Plastic can take thousands of years to decompose, and plastic pollution has become a significant issue worldwide. The world now produces more than 380 million tons of plastic every year, which end up as pollutants, finding their way into the natural environment and our oceans. Consider this: all the plastic produced since its discovery in 1852 is still present somewhere on the planet. All the while, more and more plastic is being produced. This speaks to the weight of the issue that is plastic pollution in our world!
Today, Optimum will be sharing seven insane facts about plastic pollution that will have you desperate to find ways to reduce your dependence on plastic. While countries all around the world are banning the use of plastic, and the call for single-use plastics is more pronounced than ever before, there is still so much more to be done. But to combat the issue of plastic pollution, we must first educate ourselves. Keep reading for seven facts about plastic pollution you may not have known previously!
1. Around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide since the 1950s.
According to a recent report from The Guardian, an estimated 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. To put this insane fact about plastic pollution into perspective, that’s the equivalent to the weight of more than 800,000 Eiffel Towers. To make matters even direr, only an estimated 9% of the plastic produced has been recycled.
2. 73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic.
According to National Geographic, a whopping 73% of all beach litter is plastic. The plastic pollution found on our planet’s beaches consists of bottles, bottle caps, filters from cigarette butts, grocery bags, food wrappers, and polystyrene containers, the report states.
3. About 2 million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide.
While it may seem like a nearly unbelievable number, according to Ecowatch, somewhere between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. Narrowing our view to a smaller area, New Yorkers alone use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags in a year. This statistic is reported by the New York City Department of Environmental Conservation. It offers just a tiny look at how much plastic is used on the planet in a single year. Luckily, in a much-needed call to action, the city is pursuing a ban on plastic grocery bags.
4. Plastic pollution kills more than 1.1 million seabirds and animals every year.
In a study conducted by the University of Queensland in Australia, data collected since the 1980s was used to find that green sea turtles now ingest twice the amount of plastic they did just 25 years ago. This is a horrifying fact when you consider that, according to the United Nations, the ingestion of plastic kills an estimated 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals in a single year.
Additionally, more than 90% of all birds and fish on the planet are estimated to have plastic particles in their stomachs. Because plastic breaks up into very tiny pieces in the sea, they are often consumed by fish and other sea animals. Thanks to the increase in plastic pollution, 700 species of marine life are now facing extinction, according to a report by Plymouth University.
5. World plastic production has doubled over the last 50 years.
While it’s fortunate that there are increasing numbers of organizations and countries that are banning both the use and production of plastic, leading plastic manufacturers are now planning to increase overall production by nearly a third over the next five years.
To put into perspective just how much world plastic production has increased over the last 50 years, consider that in 1974 global plastic consumption per year was roughly 4.4 pounds per capita. Today, this has risen to a whopping 95 pounds, with the number set to increase significantly.
6. More than 50% of sea turtles have consumed plastic debris.
If you’ve ever heard the famous environmental line, “save the sea turtles,” this next fact is going to prove that they’re now in more danger than ever before. According to an estimate by the University of Queensland, more than 50% of all sea turtles have consumed plastic debris. This contributes to more than 100,000 sea turtles dying from plastic production in any given year.
7. There is more microplastic present on Earth than there are stars in the Milky Way.
Finally, it is estimated that if plastic production keeps up at the current rate, the amount of plastic on Earth is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by the year 2050. While 2050 may seem like a long way off, you should also know that as it stands currently, there is more microplastic (tiny pieces of plastic) in our oceans than there are stars in the entirety of the Milky Way. To support how terrifying this fact is, astronomers estimate that there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way.
Do Your Part to End Plastic Pollution with Optimum!
While the facts about plastic pollution presented here may seem bleak, we hope that you’ll view them as evidence of the fact that ending plastic pollution is now more critical than ever. Doing your part for the environment starts with small daily practices that add to a massive difference over time. Looking for a way to minimize your use of plastic? Consider purchasing an Optimum bottleless water system!
At Optimum, we’re passionate about doing more for the environment. That’s why we specialize in bottleless water systems that not only enhance the taste of your water and ensure your drinking water is free of toxins and chemicals, but also eliminate the need for disposable plastic water bottles. Never again will you have to purchase disposable plastic water bottles when you have an Optimum system. Plastic water bottles have a significant impact on the environment, and Optimum is here to help you reduce your carbon footprint! Check out our selection of bottleless water systems today and do your part to end plastic pollution.