Where Does Our Plastic Go?

Photo by istockphoto

     Look at this image and think about what you are seeing. 

     It is quite clear that the majority of the items in this photo are made from plastic. Now, many people ask, “what is the point of getting rid of plastic? It is cheap, useful, and its harmful effects do not affect me personally.” 

     This is a popular question when the benefit of plastic is questioned; it is easy to use, the online consumer likes it because it protects their packages, and so on. However, there are multiple arguments that can be made against it, which is that plastic actually does affect people. It may not be affecting them personally at the moment, but it is hurting future generations from having a healthy ecosystem. 

     Why? Plastic users may ask, and the answer is: Landfills.

     Plastic is constantly getting tossed and the general consumer does not think about it once it has left their door. But where does that plastic go? It does not just disappear once it is thrown in the dumpster and taken away by the garbage disposal trucks. No, it is taken to a landfill where it will take 400-500 years to decompose. This may not seem like an issue because the area is contained and far away from populations. And yet, “plastic production has exploded over the last half-century, growing from 16.5 million tons in 1964 to 343 million tons in 2014; it is projected to double by 2036,” (Cho). Plastic production is growing at a much faster rate than the Earth can get rid of it. If this rate is not stopped, future generations will have a lot more plastic to deal with than we have currently, and it is already a problem.

     One of the best ways to solve this problem is to recycle correctly; double check your garbage bins and make sure there is a recyclable bin option. Only 9% of plastic is recycled, and this is due to both human error and the factories creating the plastic. There has to a joint effort in order to avoid the amount of plastics we are currently seeing in our landfills.