Plastics Impact on the Environment is Dire

In Empowerment, Environment by Joan Shields, RNLeave a Comment

Joan Shields, RN
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Plastic never goes away. It’s been finding its way into oceans and  beaches. In the Los Angeles area , 10 metric tons of plastic fragments — like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles — are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day. Today billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling waterways making up about 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces. 40%! Plastics pollution has a direct and deadly effect on wildlife. Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting plastic or getting entangled in it. Endangered wildlife like Hawaiian monk seals and Pacific loggerhead sea turtles are among nearly 300 species that eat and get caught in plastic litter. The EPA recently declined to address plastic pollution under the Clean Water Act. It vows to “monitor health & environmental impacts & to develop national data on the costs of ocean litter to local, state & national governments.” Really? How long will that take while Big oil/Energy companies continue to destroy what’s left of the earth?

Plastic bags are produced from polymers derived from petroleum.
The amount of petroleum used to make ONE plastic bag would drive a car 12 yards or just over 10 meters. The manufacturing and recycling of plastic is adding large quantities of dioxins into the soil and waters surrounding these factory plants. Much of the world’s plastics are recycled in China. Cargo shipping containers are sent to China where they wait to see if their contents will be accepted for processing. China initiated a'”Green Fence” policy limiting the plastics they will recycle. This was started as a measure to decrease the huge smog/pollution China has a result of manufacturing and recycling the plastics. If not accepted these cargo ships are dumping the plastics in the ocean.


  • 270,000 TONS of plastic are floating on the ocean’s surface.
  • Millions more sit on the sea floor.
  • Plastic threatens over 700 species with extinction.
  • Plastic Bottles: US uses 15 million barrels of oil, each year, to create plastic bottles.
  • Globally,the world uses a trillion plastic bags a year. That’s 10 million bags every 5 minutes.


  • Chevron Phillips Chemicals Plastics
  • Shell Global
  • Marathon Oil
  • Gulf Oil
  • Exxon Mobil Chemical
  • BP Plastics
  • Bayer Material Science
  • Conoco Plastics
  • EVCO Plastics
  • Citgo Petroleum
  • KOCH INDUSTRIES: For-the-record. Koch Industries is not a major oil producer. Koch-owned businesses trade, transport, refine and process fossil fuels, moving them across the world to manufacture plastics.
“The amount of petroleum used to make ONE plastic bag would drive a car 12 yards or just over 10 meters.”


Use cloth bags instead of plastic for every shopping purchase. This includes buying from the bulk bins(Bring your own paper bag and reuse) When buying produce, buy loose, not packaged. Bring your own utensils to avoid grocers/deli’s/take-out plastic utensil. When dining out, request “no straw” when ordering a drink. Never buy bottled water, instead, bring your own reusable container/bottle. When purchasing drinks find ones that are sold in glass. Avoid the plastic, take-out containers. You can ask the store manager to consider paper containers like Chines take-out.

When buying soap, look for bars of soap sold in cardboard. The same goes for laundry and dishwasher detergents. Avoid make-up sold in plastic. Request the company to use glass. Some companies, like LUSH use plastic but encourage customers to return the empty plastic container to be reused.

Avoid adding plastic to the recycle bin. Find clever ways to reuse the plastic containers. these containers are great for storing hair care supplies, office supplies, sewing kits, children’s toys/crayons, arts & crafts, dried foods (like the ones from the bulk bins)

New Parents will do well to avoid plastic bottles and sippy cups. Glass bottles are a safer, cleaner choice. Plastic sippy cups can be replaced with stainless steel ones. Disposable diapers have plastics and can be replaced by cloth ones.

Host an Accessory-Trade Party: Invite friends/family to bring their top 10 items for trade. Sunglasses, Belts, Pocketbooks etc and all can share/trade with each other. It helps cut down on plastic used to manufacture these items while giving everyone a fresh new look for the season.

Stop purchasing plastic storage bags, storage containers like those sold by Rubbermaid, Ziploc, Tupperware, Glad, Hefty etc. Replace plastic storage containers with glass. Save glass jars and their lids from foods like peanut butter, jams, red roasted peppers, olives. Thrift shops, garage sales etc are great places to find covered glass dishes. Avoid plastic wrap and cling. Use cloth or linen napkins to cover foods in the fridge. Replace tall kitchen plastic garbage bags with paper and cardboard. Instead, use discarded laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent cardboard boxes for garbage.

TIP: put a reminder on your garbage pail and recycling bin: AVOID PLASTIC.

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