Poisoning the planet 101: plastic

It seems to be that nowadays; most people are concerned about helping the environment. People talk about reducing fossil fuel use by driving cleaner cars, turning off the lights when not in use, and relying more on clean energy sources.
While all of these things are beneficial to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, we still rely heavily on plastic, a petrol byproduct.
Most of those that see plastic in a negative light do so because of the long time it takes for plastic to decompose; 500 years to start decomposing, depending on composition and thickness, and another 30 to 50 to finish doing so.
What most people don’t realize is that plastic’s production is just as bad as its decomposition.
The pollution that plastic creates is present at both ends of its existence, from creation to decomposition.
Plastic is made from the combination of carbon and several other substances, and the main raw material from plastic production is petroleum.
The manufacturing process burns fossil fuels to refine them for plastic use, releasing vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
The production of plastic used in bottled water in the United Sates alone takes up about 17 million barrels of oil yearly.
In the past two decades, plastic use in the United States has skyrocketed, mostly due to the surge in popularity of bottled water and plastic containers.
In 1976, Americans drank only about 1.6 gallons of bottled water a year; in 2006 that number was 28.3 gallons a year.
The last decade saw more plastic produced than all of the twentieth century.
The United States is by far the largest consumer of bottled water, and all that this does is contaminate the environment and empty our pockets.
It is suggested that we drink eight glasses of water a day; it would cost 49 cents a year in tap water to drink that amount, but over $1,400 if it is bottled water.
Most people drink bottled water as a better option to tap water, which has a high amount of chlorine and chemicals.
A cheaper and more ecological option is having a water filter at home, which is a one-time cost for long-term gain, and reduces plastic use.
An even cheaper and more efficient option is placing a filter on the faucet of the kitchen sink.
When we drink form these bottles we forget that plastic is a toxic substance; the most common chemical that seeps into our water is BPA.
In the United States, 93 percent of the population aged six and up has tested positive for BPA in their body.
Plastic’s destructive attributes also affect the aquatic ecosystem.
Every year, we use 500 million plastic bags.
Millions of those find their way in to the ocean.
These bags drift to the open ocean, where they get stuck in the blowholes of dolphins and whales, envelop and kill fish, and are eaten by sea turtles, killing them. Bottles that wash into the ocean are also a prevalent problem.
They will decompose quickly, but they will then release toxins into the water that will get eaten by plankton and small fish.
A recent outbreak of tumors in sea turtles has been linked to pesticide runoff and the toxins from plastic in the water.
Our heavy reliance on plastic is harming us and our environment now and will inevitably do even more damage for generations to come.