We encounter plastic almost everywhere, every day. While it has made many of our most used items easier to produce and more affordable for consumers, it has had major effects on the environment. Luckily, more ways are being developed to utilize these materials and keep them out of landfills.
The features that make plastic so versatile and useful also make it bad for the environment. It is long lasting, it takes about 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose fully, and the chemicals added to make it more useful, like BPA and phthalates, are poisonous to the environment and humans.
According to the EPA, plastics are 13% of the solid waste stream, compared to less than 1% in 1960. This adds up to 32 million tons of plastics, with only 9% of that recycled. Recycling 1 ton of plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a 2-person home for a full year, so not only does recycling diminish the impacts on landfills but also conserves energy.
So what can we do? Of course, recycling your plastic waste is the top priority. Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles per hour and less than 35% of homes and 10% of businesses recycle. If these levels were increased to 75% for the entire US it would be equal to eliminating 50 million cars from the road each year, while also providing 1.5 million new jobs.
In addition to recycling, you can choose reusable water bottles over plastic bottles. Choose a BPA-free bottle that is made from recycled materials and you’ll be protecting yourself and the environment. Recycled plastics are also gaining use as building materials, including our outdoor furniture collections. The material used in these pieces is exceptionally durable and weather resistant, and it’s entirely made from recycled HDPE. Recycled plastics have also gained popularity in textiles, like carpets and clothing like the filling in jackets.
By recycling, reusing, and repurposing the plastics that are already produced we can limit the impact of plastic production and plastic waste on the environment. So pitch the plastic, fill up your water bottle, and start your more sustainable lifestyle now.