June 14

From the soda straw you used last night at your favorite restaurant to the cute charm that popped out of a gumball machine when you were seven years old, they all still exist.

In fact, every piece of plastic created since plastic’s invention in 1856 is still around in some form.  (Okay, unless the plastic item was burned to ashes somewhere.  But you get the idea.)

A plastic container, like a water bottle, buried in a landfill can take a million of years to degrade.  That’s not a typo.  A million years.

Look around you right now.  All of the plastic you see (even the keys on your keyboard) may well be around a million years from now.  Perhaps long after our species has migrated into the vast reaches of the cosmos.  (Weird to think that my toothbrush may be orbiting the sun on a big empty rock eons from now.)

Compounding matters is that plastic is made from petroleum.  The manufacturing of plastic accounts for about 5% of the total U.S. petroleum consumption.  That’s a good chunk of our country’s energy resources.

No, I’m not suggesting that we boycott plastics.  I like sipping a cool drink with a straw as much as anyone.  But, for me, I’m going to give a little extra thought before I casually reach for another plastic water bottle after a run.

Image credit:  PhysOrg.com and Wikimedia Commons