Some of the largest consumers of the single-use plastics that end up in our rivers and oceans are the service and retail industries. While this has an immediate effect on local wildlife, it also has a long-term effect on climate and public health. Plastics have become essential components of products and packaging because they’re durable, lightweight, and cheap. But though they offer numerous benefits, plastics originate as fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases from cradle to grave. Today, about 4-8% of annual global oil consumption is associated with plastics, according to the World Economic Forum. If this reliance on plastics persists, plastics will account for 20% of oil consumption by 2050 (Yale Climate Connections).
The public health concern is that these single use plastics break down even further, into microplastics, which later make their way into the food we eat and into our drinking water. A 2019 study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund and conducted by researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia estimated that people consume about 5 grams of plastic a week — roughly the equivalent of a credit card.
Show Us How YOU Make A Difference!
We can make a difference as individuals in regards to plastic waste build up. Show us how you and your family reduce plastic use at home! Do you use cloth grocery bags? Glass Tupperware instead of styrofoam to-go boxes? Reusable water bottles and metal straws count too! Anything you can show us of you reducing or eliminating plastic waste at home can be share by tagging us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and we will make sure to share them all right here! Don’t use social media? You can email us your photo or video too! Everyone who particpates will receive one of our “We love our River” turtle stickers and will be entered into a raffle at the end of the month. So let us see you in action #PlasticFreeHaw!
In efforts to mitigate this issue, the Haw River Assembly is partnering with local businesses to eliminate single-use plastics in their business models. Look out for our campaigns window decal and support these local businesses working to eliminate the consumption of microplastics one straw at a time!
Watch Us Work!
Plastics Research on the Haw
Your Haw Riverkeeper, Emily Sutton, is busy monitoring microplastics in the Haw River at several locations throughout the basin. This includes downstream of large municipalities like Greensboro, Burlington, Durham, Chapel Hill and Apex. Thanks to a team at UNC Chapel Hill, we will soon be able to provide you with quantitative data comparing major cities in the Haw River basin for their plastics pollution.
This campaign has been sponsored by: