1 Million Plastic Bottles Bought Every Minute, That's Nearly 20,000 Every Second
A new report highlights the astounding amount of plastic bottles humans go through and the environmental havoc it wreaks.
Citing figures from consumer market research company Euromonitor International, The Guardian reported that 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute—or about 20,000 per second—around the globe.
About 480 billion plastic bottles were purchased globally in 2016 but less than half gets recycled, meaning most of this waste ends up in our oceans and landfills. Even worse, the report notes that the world's increasing thirst for bottled beverages, especially in economically growing Asian countries, will bump these figures up another 20 percent, or 583.3 billion bottles, by 2021—fueling a crisis that experts believe will be as serious as climate change.
In the U.S., Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year with a dismal 23 percent recycling rate. A North American study last year found that 22 million pounds of plastic goes into the waters of the Great Lakes each year. The researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology said that Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland and Detroit are the worst contributors to plastic pollution. In Lake Michigan alone, an equivalent of 100 Olympic-sized pools full of plastic bottles get dumped into the lake every year. Like in the oceans, the plastic trash in the Great Lakes breaks down into microplastics, which are consumed by fish and other aquatic life and moves up the food chain.
A widely reported study by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation determined that by the year 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. Not only that, researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia and Imperial College London found that 99 percent of seabirds will swallow plastic by 2050.
Many people opt for bottled water because they think it's cleaner or tastes better. But Annie Leonard, the executive director of Greenpeace USA notes that's not necessarily true and is a wasteful way to spend our dollars.
"A four-year review of the bottled water industry in the U.S. and the safety standards that govern it, including independent testing of over 1,000 bottles of water found that there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap. In fact tap water is tested more frequently than bottled water," Leonard wrote. "In fact, a lot of the bottled water sold in the U.S. is just treated water from our municipal water systems; the same place our tap water comes from."
Leonard continued, "As for the plastic containers that bottled water comes in, plastic's made from oil and there's nothing good about drilling that stuff up."
She's right. Besides choking fish and seabirds, the production of plastic bottles requires an enormous amount of resources. The Pacific Institute estimates that the production of bottles for American consumption requires the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, that the bottling process produces more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, and that it takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
It's clear that the world needs to give up this wasteful and environmentally damaging addiction. If you'd like to cut down on your plastic footprint, read this.
By Kate Murphy
No matter the time of year, there's always a point in each season when my skin decides to cause me issues. While these skin issues can vary, I find the most common issues to be dryness, acne and redness.
David Woodfall / The Image Bank / Getty Images
By Sam Nickerson
Now, correspondence obtained by the LA Times revealed just how deeply involved industry lobbyists and a controversial, industry-funded toxicologist were in drafting the federal agency's proposal to scrap its current, protective approach to regulating toxin exposure.
February 22 is the birthday of conservationist and beloved TV personality "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who would have been 57 years old today.
Irwin's life was tragically cut short when the barb from a stingray went through his chest while he was filming in 2006, but his legacy of loving and protecting wildlife lives on, most recently in a Google Doodle today honoring his birthday.
By Dan Nosowitz
That video showed the extrusion of a bubblegum-pink substance oozing into a coiled pile, something between Play-Doh, sausage and soft-serve strawberry ice cream. Branded "pink slime"—the name came from an email sent by a USDA microbiologist in 2002—this stuff was actually beef, destined for supermarkets and fast-food burgers.
'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges Billions to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged a quarter of $1 trillion budget over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.