We produce around 335 million metric tons of plastic a year. And about half of that plastic is for single-use products, like water bottles. But it’s not just plastic water bottles and bags littering the landscape, though we have plenty of that. Every year, 8 million tons of plastic wash into our oceans, harming wildlife and natural ecosystems. And tiny pieces of plastics, or microplastics, are found in the oceans, soil, and even the rainwater. It’s no surprise that they are also contaminating our food and drinking water.
The following infographic from ClimaDoor explores the extent and impacts of the plastics with which humans have polluted the Earth. It also shows what kind of waste is showing up and some of the different species that it affects — from our rivers and mountains to our beaches and oceans.
Although the thought of cleaning up our plastic-covered Earth is daunting, we can stop adding to the existing mess. Replace single-use plastics with reusable items. Learn which plastics your local recycling provider accepts, and avoid purchasing plastic items that you can’t recycle. And let companies know that you expect their products and packaging to be sustainable.
This article was originally published on February 13, 2020.