June 5th is World Environment Day and World Oceans Day follows closely after, on June 8th. The theme of both global celebrations is beating plastic pollution — one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Plastic has been around for only about 50-70 years, but it has found it’s way into our clothing, kitchen and food products, storage solutions, and so much more. The problem is that most plastic isn’t biodegradable (one single plastic bottle can take 450 or more years to decompose!), which is why there’s so much plastic waste in landfills and in our oceans today. For marine life, this results in life-threatening dangers, from getting caught in debris to mistaking plastic fragments for food. For people, the result is plastics in our water supply and in the foods we eat (such as fish, sea salt, even beer)— potentially harming our health. On the positive side, changes are being made to combat the problem. Many countries have banned, limited or taxed the use of plastic bags. More recently, multiple cities around the world have started banning plastic straws. There’s plenty you can do, too:
• Bring your own reusable shopping bags to the supermarket.
• Use reusable bottles and cups; bring your own travel mug to get coffee.
• Replace plastic wrap with reusable covers or a non-plastic wrap, such as beeswax food storage wrap.
• Keep your own silverware in your desk drawer at work.
• Pick up any plastic you see the next time you go for a walk on the beach.
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