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The Rising Wall of Plastic

The Rising Wall of Plastic

If we don't want to get knocked over by a wall of our own waste, we have to stop packing plastic

The standouts for sheer stupidity are bottled water, shopping bags (including the thicker ones) and micro plastics.  Australians use of more than 5 billion plastic shopping bags each year and spend more than $500 million on bottled water.

The broader Deposit Scheme & Single use Plastic Bag Ban, & China's ban on importing plastic garbage will help shrink this, but there's still plenty of bottles and bags left that we really don't need. 

A shopping bag is lucky to get 5 minutes of use, but then takes hundreds of years to break down, travelling far and wide as they float and blow with the wind - ending up in the stomachs, beaks and feet of land and sea animals. Most animals with shopping bags in their bellies will die - and while their bodies decompose, the plastic bag will survive to go on and find another belly and kill again. 

If you think none of this matters to you because you don't find be chunks of plastic in your fish dinner, consider that when the small particles from partially photo-degraded plastic bags get into the water, they are ingested by filter feeding marine animals. Biotoxins like PCBs that are in the particles are then passed up the food chain through the fish that ingest them, to humans. 

Next time you reach for a bottle of water at the supermarket or purchase a bulk lot of bottles shrink wrapped in even more plastic and put it into a plastic shopping bag, spare a thought for the fish in the sea. Eighty percent of the ocean's rubbish is some kind of plastic. 

It is almost technically impossible to buy a organic wild fish because so many fish have at least one piece of plastic inside their stomachs. 

Plastic bags and bottle water are so easy to replace with simple sensible alternatives. Buy reusable bags and a metal water bottle. If you really want filtered water, purchase a water purifier or filter jug.

Every bottle you refuse counts. One becomes two and three and ten thousand, then a million. And a million more.

*According to the Australian Academy of Science, Australians use about 1.3 million tons of plastic each year and the list of personal plastic statistics is long - bags, cups, cutlery, plates, bottles, jars, containers and lids. 

Photo: Shutterstock
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