20 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
Earth Day is here! It's your turn to help end plastic pollution and make your mark on helping the planet.
Plastic was only invented in 1907, barely 100 years ago, but this material has quickly become one of the most damaging materials on earth. Plastic can ruin ecosystems and is even damaging to your health. Here are some quick stats on the dangers:
Environmental Effects of Plastic
- Only 9% of plastics have been recycled, 12% have been incinerated and 79% has ended up in landfills and the environment (source).
- 9.1 BILLION US tons of plastic has been produced. Without changing our habits, an additional 13.2 billion tons will be produced by 2050 (source).
- Packaging makes up 54% of plastics thrown away (source).
- Between California and Hawaii lies the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is an area made up of an estimated 87,000 tons worth of trash and is 3 times the size of France. In 2015, this was measured to be 99.9% plastic.
- in 2010, 8 million metric tons of plastic ended up in the ocean.
- According to a study by Plymouth University, 1/3 of fish caught in the UK contained plastic (source).
- By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans (source).
- It is estimated that there are 51 trillion microplastic particles in the oceans, this is more than 500 times the amount of stars in the galaxy.
- Being tangled in plastic kills more than 100,000 sea turtles and birds per year (source).
Health Effects of Plastic
Despite widespread use, plastic is damaging to human health as well.
Where is it? Primarily found in water bottles or other uses requiring hard plastics. Over time or heated up, the BPA chemical can leach out of containers and into food we consume.
What are the effects? (source) Increase in breast and prostate cancers, decreased sperm quality, infertility, miscarriages, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and neurological problems.
In a 2005 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health, BPA was in 93% of urine samples tested.
Where is it? Primarily found in food packaging, plastic wrap, toiletry containers, pacifiers, shower curtains, cosmetics
What are the effects? (source) Cancer, birth defects, genetic changes, skin diseases, deafness, vision failure.
Phthalates (DEHP, DINP, and others)
Where is it? Softened vinyl products including vinyl clothing, shoes, toys, food wrap, surgical gloves, breathing tubes
What are the effects? (source) Endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive effects.
What You Can Change in Your Daily Life
- Switch to toothbrushes with bamboo handles.
- Say no to straws. When out to eat, tell the staff not to bring straws to your table.
- Use a reusable water bottle.
- Bring reusable bags shopping instead of the plastic bags provided.
- Use stainless steel or glass containers for food storage.
- Bring your own mug to coffee shops.
- Take note of packaging in the grocery store. Cardboard recycles and degrades much easier than plastic. Have the choice between pasta in a bag versus a box? Choose the box.
- Save glass jars from pasta sauces and other uses for future food storage instead of using disposable plastic bags and plastic wrap.
- Be conscious of your personal products packaged in plastic and switch to bar soaps and hair care in aluminum.
Ideas to Celebrate Earth Day
- Calculate your plastic consumption using this easy calculator
- Plant a tree
- Plant a garden
- Switch your bills to e-delivery to save paper
- Pledge to eat one less meal with meat each week
- Don't use your car for one day
- Unplug electronics you aren't using
- Switch to earth friendly cleaning products
- Purchase reusable grocery bags
- Volunteer with a local organization
- Fix leaky faucets
- Hang a bird feeder
- Finish leftovers in your fridge to prevent food waste
- Visit the local farmer's market
- Drink your beer on tap
- Stop using paper plates and plastic cutlery
- Swap your lightbulbs for eco friendly CFLs or LEDs
- Organize a local event to teach about sustainable living
- Visit a school to teach about recycling
- Take a hike