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Thinking Outside The Plastic Bottle
Nov 08, 2021
The impact of plastic bottles on marine life and the future of humanity
In this blog post, we're sharing the environmental impact of plastic bottles and what you can do to reduce your plastic waste production.
Our oceans are overflowing with rubbish. Increasing amounts of waste are causing mountains of waste to congregate and float upon the Ocean’s surface. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world's largest accumulation of plastic waste. Located between Hawaii and California, the patch weighs the equivalent to around 500 jumbo jets! A startling statistic that reflects just how massive an issue ocean pollution is.
And one of the most significant contributors to this patch and other rubbish floating in the ocean? Plastic water bottles.
How much of an impact do plastic bottles have on plastic pollution?
Water is a crucial component of our everyday lives. We need H2O to survive, to maintain our energy, and to help us feel our best. And many of us don't see the harm in picking up a plastic water bottle whilst completing our daily errands. Isn't staying hydrated a good thing? Whilst we're all advocates for the goodness of water, how we currently transport and source our water in modern life is having a significant environmental impact. Did you know 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year in the UK alone?! Every time we purchase a bottle of water, we're adding to this statistic.
Can plastic water bottles be recycled?
Although recycling is better than throwing plastic in our general rubbish, it's not a solution to our overconsumption. Recycling plastic water bottles is a complex process that demands high levels of energy and natural resources. Furthermore, if a water bottle is contaminated, it can no longer be recycled and is sent to landfill as a result. We might throw our plastic bottles in the recycling, thinking we're doing our bit for the planet, only for them to end up in piles of general waste at the end of its lifespan.
Plastic’s impact on the environment
When our unrecyclable bottles arrive at landfills, they usually continue life in two ways. Either they burn under the hot sun, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, or they get blown into the ocean.
Plastic is created using petroleum, meaning it can't safely return to the Earth. Instead, when plastic particles break down over time, they release toxic fumes, contributing to global warming. Whether in the sea or on land, there is no environmentally friendly way to dispose of plastic bottles.
How does plastic pollute the ocean?
If plastic arrives in the ocean, it poses a serious threat to marine life. Once our plastic bottle enters the ocean, it's subject to rough waters and powerful tides. As a result of these harsh conditions, plastic breaks down into smaller microplastics. These microplastics float around in the ocean, continuing to break down into even smaller pieces. Alternatively, plastic gathers together, forming garbage patches like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. As this rubbish floats on the ocean's surface, it releases fumes and continues to break down.
The impact of plastic on ocean life
The ocean is home to an array of species. From fish to turtles, seabirds and ocean mammals, there are millions of beautifully unique creatures native to the ocean— some we don't even know about!
These wonderful creatures suffer at the hands of plastic pollution. Many will ingest microplastics, causing death or disease. Some animals become entangled in rubbish, resulting in suffocation and drowning. Studies conducted on deceased sea life show disturbing amounts of rubbish in their stomachs. And it looks as though ocean pollution isn’t going to slow down. It’s estimated that if we continue relying on plastic products, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050!
Increasing levels of ocean waste cause rising sea levels, increasing greenhouse gases and damaged ecosystems.
How plastic pollution changes the life of humanity
Decreasing marine life and increasing plastic in our oceans has a global impact.
Rising sea levels
As sea levels continue to rise, our cities and towns are at risk. Over the past year, flooding has caused immense damage to the homes and livelihoods of everyday people. If sea levels continue to rise, further devastation will take place across the nation.
Increasing greenhouse gases
Plastic has an extremely high carbon footprint. Not only does it require chemical fumes to create, but plastic also releases carbon emissions for the rest of its existence. Every time we use a plastic bottle, we're increasing our carbon footprint and contributing to global warming.
Ecosystems are the systems by which all living creatures survive. Healthy ecosystems provide clean air and water, healthy soil, food, raw materials, and regulate the climate. Without functioning ecosystems, all living creatures are at risk. Increasing death and illness among animals decreases biodiversity, weakening our ecosystems and limiting the supply of natural resources.
As an alternative to plastic bottles
We don't have to say goodbye to healthy drinking habits to save the planet. Trade in your single-use plastic water bottle for a reusable alternative. Rather than purchasing a new bottle of water every day, fill yours up at home. Not only does this help save the planet, but it benefits your wallet too!
Plastic bottles are killing innocent marine life. Not only is continuing to contribute to plastic waste inhumane, but it also has a broader global impact. Failing to cut down on our rubbish production and plastic usage will cause irreversible damage to the environment.
If we want to protect ocean life and save the planet, we need to say goodbye to single-use plastic bottles.