Our Plastic Planet

April 16, 2018

With Earth Day 2018 just a few days away, it seemed like a fitting time for us to highlight the problem of plastics on our planet.

Water is really important to us; two of our team members live a stone's throw from the ocean in Charleston, SC, and the rest of us work out of our main warehouse that sits just feet from the Colorado River. We wanted to use this week to increase awareness of the problem of plastics on our planet, and in particular the harm of plastics in our rivers and oceans.

Our Plastic Planet: The problem of plastics in our rivers and oceans by Revel & Co.

 

Plastic items, such as bottles, can harm coral reefs. One study looked at nearly 160 coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean and estimated that more than 11 billion (with a B) plastic items could be entangled in the coral reefs, causing damage and disease

In the US and UK alone, around 550 million plastic straws are used every single day. Many of these plastic straws end up in our water. Although over time they are broken up into smaller and smaller pieces, the plastic never disappears entirely.

Some estimates suggest that there are 269,000 metric tons and 5.25 trillion particles of plastic on the ocean’s surface.

It's hard to accurately measure the plastic waste in our oceans, because much of it is below the surface where it eventually sinks to the seabed. Estimates, however, suggest that there are as many as 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean today. To put this into perspective, this is 500 times more than the number of stars in our galaxy.

Shawn Miller has documented the problem of plastic pollution in Japan through a series of photographs showing hermit crabs that have made their home inside plastic trash.  

Up to 95% of the plastic in our oceans originally comes from land. The plastic travels from land to the oceans via rivers, particularly in runoff from large coastal cities.

This now famous photograph of a sea horse clinging to a plastic cotton swab was taken by Justin Hofman near Sumbawa Island in Indonesia and illustrates the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans and the animals that live there.

Experts estimate that unless something changes, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (calculated by weight) by the year 2050.

The plastic in our oceans often accumulate in zones of plastic that form in the five subtropical gyres. The plastic is essentially trapped within these areas due to the ocean currents, and takes at least 10 years to cycle back out, unless it is eaten by marine life or sinks to the bottom. More than 1,200 species of marine life are at risk from ingestion of or entanglement in plastic. 

The best way to tackle this issue in your own life is to stop using the five sources of single-use plastics:

  • plastic bags,
  • plastic bottles,
  • plastic take-out containers,
  • plastic take-out cups, and
  • plastic straws.

Here at REVEL & Co., we are taking steps to limit our use of plastics by phasing out as much of our plastic packaging as possible by the year 2020 and adding more environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastics.

To start, we are proud to offer our paper straws as a fantastic alternative to plastic straws. Our straws are made right here in America of paper that is biodegradable, compostable, and chlorine-free. 

In fact, we believe so much in our paper straws, that later this week we'll be announcing an exciting new program related to the sale of our straws. 


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