If we keep the current trend, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. Wow! I know plastic is fantastic but this does not sound good. And really, there is no smart reasons for it. Just a bunch of stupid ones. Check it out! We are going to talk about dinosaurs, six packs, vacuum cleaners and much more. But before we start, this video was created in support of Team Seas who is raising 30 million dollars to remove 30 million pounds of plastic and trash from the ocean. More info in the description below and at the end of this video.
Ok, reason #1: We produce A LOT of plastics! Between 1964 and 2014, plastics production was multiplied by twenty, reaching 311 million tonnes in 2014. At this rate, production in 2050 will be over 1 billion tonnes. A good share of this is packaging: around 25%. Which brings us to…
Reason #2: We use a lot of plastic packaging only once. 62% of trash collected in international coastal clean-up operations is plastic packaging and these four plastic items make up almost half of all ocean trash: plastic bags (14%), plastic bottles (12%), plastic food containers and cutlery (9%) and wrappers (9% as well). Fishing gear and cigarette buts represent a large portion too.
Reason #3: We make stuff that we can’t and don’t recycle. Despite the misleading arrows on the plastic type, only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling. 40% goes to landfill and 32% leaks and a good chunk of this goes into rivers, beaches and eventually the ocean. These 10 rivers alone carry more than 90% of the plastic waste that ends up in the oceans.
At least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean each year – which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. It is estimated that there is about 150 million tonnes of plastic waste in the ocean today.
Reason #4: Nature does not recognize plastic and takes hundreds of years to break it down so the plastic kills marine life and gets transported to offshore plastic accumulation zones, you know, like the dust balls in your house that always end up behind the same door. The biggest, (the great pacific garbage patch) is 3 times the size of France! You can see it at scale on this drawing.
Reason #5: Most of the plastic we make comes from a non-renewable resource (some of it being old dinosaur bones) that is running out and pollutes our atmosphere as we extract and process it. About 6% of the world’s oil production is used for plastic, half as a raw material and half to fuel the plastic making processes.
Reason #6: Because these plastics have many benefits (they are light for transportation, they extend the shelf life of food which is very important in some parts of the world), we have designed many of our systems around them so we are dependent on them and it is really hard to stop. There is also significant resistance in the business communities to shifting the business models because some companies make so much money out of this failing system.
Ok, so we are killing our oceans with lots of stuff made from non-renewable resources that we use only once… When you put it like that it sounds really stupid but if we are able to fly a helicopter on mars, I am sure we are smarter than this! So here is how we can fix it:
- We need to reduce the leaks so we control where our plastics are going;
- We need to find ways to provide the same services without the plastic products and when this is not possible, make plastics that nature can break down with natural and renewable resources and sustainable energy; (see my video on circular economy for more information on this)
- We need to create a plastics economy to reuse the plastics, recycle them and keep them in a closed loop;
- And we can all refuse single-use packaging every day at the coffee shop, the grocery store, restaurants, etc.
But we also need to clean up this mess and this is where you and Team Seas come in. A bunch of Youtube creators came together to raise 30 million dollars to remove 30 million pounds of plastic and trash from the ocean. Yes, this is one pound of trash cleaned up for each dollar raised. They are working with the most trusted non-profit clean-up organizations on the planet such as Ocean Conservancy and The Ocean Cleanup to make this happen. Check out TeamSeas.org and the links in the description below to support this awesome initiative.
Thank you to all the patrons who support me to create videos so everybody can learn about sustainability for free on Youtube and thanks for watching.