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.
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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