04 May Commonly Used Plastics Amongst Teenagers & Easy Alternatives
Guest blog by Gemma Bagchi (15 years old)
Nowadays, most people are aware about the degradation of the environment. We try to reduce our use of plastic bags or buy hydro flasks instead of plastic water bottles. Despite this, most of us don’t quite comprehend the extent of plastic waste today. 300 million tons. This is the current estimate of plastic produced worldwide every year, with 8 million tons escaping into the ocean annually.
So, what is plastic?
Plastic is the term commonly used to describe a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials. They are made from polymers, which are long molecules built around chains of carbon atoms, typically with hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur and nitrogen filling in the spaces. The more you become aware of plastic, the more you begin to realise that it can be found in everything: cars, toys, computers, televisions, food packaging, chewing gum, clothing, coffee cups, cigarette butts… the list goes on and on. Plastic can take any shape and form.
What are some of the most commonly used plastics amongst teenagers and college students?
First of all, plastic straws! The US alone estimates an average of 500 million straws are consumed daily. In the UK, researchers say that around 8.5 billion straws are used each year. These plastic traps usually end up in the ocean where they disintegrate into microplastics and are eaten by marine life. Plastic straws cannot be recycled and do not biodegrade. This means that every single plastic straw that an individual uses for a single, quick drink and then throws away still exists and indirectly causes harm to many endangered animals such as turtles.
Secondly, plastic party cups and coffee cups are also very common amongst Gen Z and a key source of damage to the environment. Plastic party cups are handed out at most social events including house parties, festivals and concerts. The world uses half a trillion every year which includes a total of 16 billion disposable coffee cups. That’s over 70 disposable cups for every single person on the planet.
Finally, plastic bottles… The numbers related to plastic bottles will astound you! In 2018, around a million plastic bottles were bought every minute around the world. Since then the number has jumped 20%! Sales of plastic bottles are surging and now the world consumes around 500 billion a year. As you may have guessed, plastic bottles are not biodegradable and will stay on our planet until the end of day, constantly putting at risk animals, plants and ecosystems.
What are some easy solutions to reduce your use of plastic?
You can begin by stopping your use of plastic straws, plastic party cups, plastic coffee cups and plastic bottles. They are easy to replace with reusable items. One of my favourite plastic-free coffee cups is the Reusable Bamboo Coffee Cup. With every sip you take, you can pat yourself on the back, knowing that you are helping the ecosystem.
Just as easily, you can replace plastic bottles with a metal or glass water bottle. I highly recommend this pistachio Triple Insulated bottle. If you love drinking with a straw, no need to stop, although you do need to switch to metal straws. The Stainless Steel Straws set is very portable, stylish and most importantly eco-friendly.
Our insane use of plastic is out of control and it harms the environment as well as millions of animals every year. There are countless other things you can do or stop doing to reduce your plastic use. We all need to participate if we are to be successful in exterminating plastic once and for all.