By Farah Stack
It’s December and the holiday season is already upon us!
Over the next month, an array of different holidays and celebrations will be happening around the world. It is the most joyous time of year with family, friends, presents, food, and festive activities, but it is also one of the most wasteful times of year when our pointless plastic packaging piles up.
An estimated 125,000 tons of plastic packaging and 277,000 miles of wrapping paper is discarded every holiday season in the U.S. That’s enough wrapping paper to go around the world 11 times!
From the colorful, festive wrapping paper to the plastic wrapping around toys, lights, and ornaments, we want to make ending single-use plastics and plastic packaging our gift to ourselves and the planet this year!
What’s the problem with plastic packaging?
Plastic packaging is extremely wasteful and has harmful impacts on Earth’s ecosystems. These ecosystems are extremely important because they clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients, and provide us with 90% of our food. Humans could simply not live without these ecosystem services, and especially not without healthy ones. A clean, healthy, and non-polluted ecosystem ensures the health of humans too.
A wrapper around our favorite holiday treats or a plastic bag to carry our new clothes in may seem harmless, but all come with a great environmental price (and one that we’ll be paying off for millennia). Single-use plastics and packaging may be convenient to wrap our presents, but our reliance on plastics is harming us more than it is helping us.
Worldwide, we produce 300 million tons of plastic each year, half of which is for single-use items. That’s equivalent to the weight of the entire human population!
Most plastics that are advertised as recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable don’t end up where they are supposed to like in industrial recycling and composting facilities. Instead, our Christmas wrapping paper of the glittery packaging around our new presents ends up in the environment. These plastics can break down into smaller pieces or microplastics, which are found throughout our oceans, soils, farm fields, the food we eat, and even in our own bodies.
In our oceans alone, there is estimated to be about 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic and 460,000 pieces in every square mile of ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tonnes. In the U.S. and Europe, one estimate suggests that 107,000 to 730,000 tons of microplastics are dumped into our agricultural soils!
Conventional plastics take thousands of years to break down. Toxic chemicals can leach out of the plastic and into the food and beverages we eat as well as into our skin and body. Some of these chemicals have been linked to health problems such as metabolic disorders and reduced fertility.
Plastics that contain chemicals like PVC (polyvinyl chloride), are linked to cancer. BPA (bisphenol A) & BPS (bisphenol S) are toxic chemicals commonly found in day-to-day plastics we use like food and beverage can lings, tupperware, bottles, and other consumer products. BPA and BPS are endocrine disruptors that have adverse effects on human health and can cause breast cancer and infertility.
Reducing plastic use is the most effective means of avoiding the accumulation of plastic waste and the harmful impacts linked to plastic products. This holiday season, and every day of the year, we want to encourage everyone to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible!
Any one person can harness the power of creativity as a catalyst for change to address the plastic pollution crisis. There is no better gift to others and yourself this season than going plastic free and keeping our planet healthy.
May your holiday season be merry, plastic-free, and bright!
About Pulp Pantry
Pulp Pantry turns overlooked resources like upcycled vegetable juice pulp into wholesome everyday snacks that make it convenient and delicious to eat more servings of vegetables and fiber. Pair them with dips, top them on your salad, or dig in as an afternoon snack. A delicious, satisfying, crunchy, nutritious snack for every day (hello extra veggies, and fiber).
With 4 to 5g fiber & prebiotics in each serving, Pulp Chips the best go-to snack to satisfy cravings and hunger.
- National Environmental Education Foundation: https://www.neefusa.org/nature/water/join-fight-reduce-plastic-pollution
- National Resource Defense Council: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/single-use-plastics-101
- Condor Ferries: https://www.condorferries.co.uk/plastic-in-the-ocean-statistics
- Environmental Health News: https://www.ehn.org/plastic-in-farm-soil-and-food-2647384684.html
- Harvard Health: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/is-plastic-a-threat-to-your-health
- Safer Chemicals Healthy Families: https://saferchemicals.org/get-the-facts/toxic-chemicals/bpa-bps/