Plastic pollution is a growing topic of concern around the world. Is our planet’s addiction to plastic bottles as dangerous as climate change? The short answer is yes. Scientists are making the harmful effects of plastic water bottles on humans and the environment clear.

People worldwide are using over one million plastic bottles every minute!  Furthermore, many experts believe that by the end of the decade the use of plastic bottles will continue to skyrocket.  They predict the production of plastic bottles will top half a trillion each year. What if we put all of the plastic drinking bottles end to end? Believe it or not,  they would create a line that would be halfway to the sun!

The increase in urbanization creates a higher demand for plastic bottles. In short, urbanization is a population shift from rural to urban areas. Our culture’s need for bottled beverages has people buying about 20,000 plastic bottles every second.  Additionally, our on-the-go lifestyle will only drive the need for plastic bottles higher. The biggest areas where urbanization is happening are in China and the Asia Pacific region. These regions are partly responsible for the increased demand for plastic bottles. The recent increase is due to the growing concerns with living a healthier life and concerns about the quality of the groundwater.


Highly recyclable material is used to make the majority of plastic bottles. Polyethylene terephthalate or Pet for short is what plastic bottles are made of.

So, if highly recyclable materials are used to make plastic bottles, why are they such a major source of pollution?

Plastic bottles are a major pollution source because the efforts to collect and recycle them are failing.  Manufacturers are producing plastic bottles so quickly it’s hard to keep up with the ever-growing usage across the globe.

What about recycling?  Is that the solution to our increasing plastic danger?

Unfortunately, only 7% of the bottles turned in actually become new plastic bottles.

So where did the rest of these plastic bottles end up?

The majority of plastic bottles end up in landfills or in our oceans. According to research done by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, somewhere between 5 to 13 million tons of plastic finds its way into our oceans each year. After these plastic bottles break down sea birds, fish, and other organisms eat them. In fact, many experts are already reporting that microplastic pollution has found its way into our food chain.


Microplastics are tiny particles and fragments of plastic that are no bigger than 5mm. The majority of microplastic pollution comes from the particles created when plastic garbage begins to degrade in our oceans.  Since microplastics are so small, they are difficult to filter out and affect many sea life organisms. Then when we consume seafood these plastics affect us. Scientists at Ghent University estimated that people who eat seafood end up ingesting more than 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic each year.

A study by Plymouth University found that one-third of the UK’s caught fish (including cod, haddock, mackerel, and shellfish) had plastic found in their digestion system. Therefore the European Food Safety Authority called for urgent research on microplastic pollution. The researchers found that there is an increasing concern for human health and food safety.  They pointed out the “potential for microplastic pollution in edible tissues of commercial fish” is increasing.

It’s impossible for plastics to usefully incorporate themselves into the food chain.  Sealife eats the toxins contained in plastics and that seafood ends up on our plates. Hugo Tagholm stated that “the plastic pollution crisis rivals the threat of climate change as it pollutes every natural system and an increasing number of organisms on planet Earth.”


The effects of eating microplastics, which are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters in size, on human health are not yet fully understood. However, studies have suggested that ingestion of microplastics could potentially cause harm to the body. When microplastics are ingested, they can accumulate in the digestive tract and make their way into other organs such as the liver or kidneys. This accumulation can lead to inflammation and damage to these organs over time.

Additionally, microplastics have been found to contain harmful chemicals such as BPA and phthalates which can leach into the body when consumed. These chemicals have been linked to a range of health problems including reproductive issues and cancer.

Plastic pollution pretty much affects all living organisms, but it affects ocean life the most. For example, sea life can mistake the plastic garbage for food and end up eating it causing digestive issues. Additionally, they may also eat microplastics from some of their other food sources. Ocean life can become entangled in plastic bags, rings, and other garbage.  Once something is entangled it can die because it won’t be able to breathe. Ocean life can also get an infection from the plastic pollution becoming embedded into its body.


Reducing plastic bottle pollution requires a collective effort from individuals, businesses, and governments. Here are some steps that can be taken to help reduce plastic bottle pollution:

Use reusable water bottles: Instead of buying single-use plastic bottles, switch to a reusable water bottle made of stainless steel or glass.

Refill stations: Encourage businesses and public places to install refill stations for people to fill their reusable water bottles.

Recycling: Make sure to properly recycle plastic bottles and encourage others around you to do the same.

Reduce packaging waste: Choose products with minimal packaging whenever possible.

Support companies with sustainable practices: Support companies that use recycled materials in their products and packaging or have implemented eco-friendly practices in their operations.

Government policies: Governments can implement policies such as taxes on single-use plastics or incentives for businesses that use eco-friendly alternatives.

Education and awareness campaigns: Educate people about the harmful effects of plastic bottle pollution and encourage them to take action to reduce it through social media campaigns or community events.

In conclusion, the solution to plastic bottle pollution is complex.

How can you help to reduce your use of plastic bottles?

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