The Problems of Single Use Plastic:
We produce a large amount of plastic because it is inexpensive, durable, and useful. Take a moment to consider all the plastic you use each day: your take-out iced coffee, your shampoo bottle, and your toothbrush. Once used, the hope is that all these products can be recycled. Unfortunately, however, they often end up in the landfill. Furthermore, many plastic products are designed to be thrown out after only a single use.
If plastic waste isn’t properly disposed of or managed, it can end up in the environment and often gets carried out to the ocean. Although it is difficult to estimate, scientists believe about 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. That’s the weight of nearly 90 aircraft carriers.
How are single use plastics hurting our environment?
The Unite Nations reports that just nine percent of the world’s nine billion tons of plastic has been recycled. For the remaining majority of plastic, some of it ends up in landfills, while the rest pollutes our lands, oceans, waterways. Plastic doesn’t decompose but instead breaks into tiny pieces, called microplastics. This decomposition can take thousands of years, all the while contaminating the environment. Plastic will stick around indefinitely, adversely affecting wildlife, habitats, and especially marine ecosystems.
We humans depend upon the environment to live, and when the environment is inundated by plastic, it affects us as well. Toxic chemicals are used to manufacture plastic which pollute the environment. Via the soil and animal tissues, these chemicals then enter the human food chain and threaten public health.
The Encinitas Solution
The City of Encinitas works diligently to reduce plastic consumption at the individual and community level. This month, residents, local businesses, and City staff are encouraged to participate in Plastic Free July, a global movement that allows millions of people to take part in a solution to plastic pollution. This campaign is important to Encinitas, as plastic is the number one source of debris found at our local beaches. Our beaches are one of our most valuable resources and we hope to preserve and protect them today and into the future.
The City has demonstrated its commitment to reducing single-use plastic at the local level through the development of a three part initiative to a “Plastic Free Encinitas”. Next month, the City will also host a Zero Waste Fair with I Love a Clean San Diego for community members to get engaged and learn more. Looking ahead, the City is also committed to reducing plastic consumption and limit waste in City operations and at community events. You can track our progress on Zero Waste on the City’s Climate Dashboard
What you can do to lower your single use plastic consumption!
- Use paper or reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags, when possible
- Avoid plastic bottles and plastic straws by using metal, glass, or wooden counterparts
- Support local or state government efforts to reduce dependence on single-use plastics, for example the City’s plastics initiative
- Recycle as much as possible and make sure you learn what can and can’t be recycled! —check out the graphic from EDCO
- Buy items in bulk to reduce plastic packaging or visit a zero-packaging store, such as The Nada Shop