Because of COVID, there’s been reports of smog clearing in China and increased wildlife sightings in Canada. It seemed like the pause on production would give the environment a well-deserved break. However, the fight against single-use plastics has halted and the oceans are suffering for it.
Ocean pollution on the rise
Sea turtles are mistaking masks for jellyfish, sea birds mistaking coloured gloves for fish, and whales are dying with hundreds of pounds worth of plastic inside their stomachs.
This is not a surprise; each day, marine life ingests part of the 8 million tons of plastic dumped into the ocean every year. With 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves being produced every month, there's a huge concern that many of them will end up in earth’s already over-polluted oceans (which they already have).
What does this mean for us?
Plastic breaks down in the ocean, creating microplastics. Fish eat these microplastics. When we humans eat these polluted fish, our bodies become polluted as well. With over 70% of the oxygen we breath being produced by marine life, just think of the damage being done to our air. And with plastic taking 400 years to break down, we're going to be breathing in this mess for centuries.
Though the majority of plastic pollution is caused by just a few companies, it always feels like it's up to the little folks to change the world. Though the actions of one person may seem small, reducing your plastic consumption can make a huge impact. For example, buying one pack of HopePodz can save three plastic bottles from the landfill – and that's just one option out of the hundreds of ways to reduce your plastic use.
6 Easy Ways to Reduce Pandemic Plastic
1. Wear a reusable mask. Wearing a mask for protect is extremely important, but single-use masks are showing up in parks, oceans, and animal stomachs! A reusable, washable mask is safe and turtle friendly.
2. Skip the single-use gloves. Gloves are great in hospitals, but not the grocery store. Washing your hands frequently is a much better and safer solution than gloves, which provide a false sense of security.
3. Pack your groceries at your car. If your local grocery store doesn't allow reusable bags, just keep them in the truck and bring your cart to your car after paying. You'll get out of the store faster and feel less pressured to pack quickly!
4. Return to (or continue to use) sustainable alternatives to plastic. Start by supporting local and buy a reusable mask from a small boutique or etsy shop.
5. Fight with your wallet. Research the environmental impacts of a company before your support them; if the consumer isn't buying, then they aren't making money.
6. Finally – if you can only do single-use, dispose of your garbage responsibly. Please throw your single-use masks, gloves, and plastics where they belong: into the trash, not onto the ground!
Written by: Morgan Tessier
Morgan is the Director of Operations here at We Are Planet Hope. She is passionate about reducing her environmental footprint anyway she can - one bottle at a time.