Plastic World (Infographic)

Full infographic on plastic below.

Plastic — can you imagine a day without it? It has come to be a component of nearly everything we buy and use, it seems. On the one hand, plastic has made things possible that might not have been possible. On the other hand, there are a few major problems (at least) with its widespread use:

  1. It lasts longer than we can adequately comprehend.
  2. It causes harm to countless animals and fish that try to consume it or get entangled in it.
  3. Much of it contains hormone-disrupting chemicals that negatively affect humans.

With such a ubiquitous material, there are also a ton of interesting, useful, and perhaps even horrifying facts related to it. Someone recently shared a stunning and thorough infographic on plastic with me that I thought Green Living Ideas readers would enjoy. Aside from the facts about plastic’s tremendous volume, the huge plastic garbage patches in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, plastic bag mountains on land, and the problems all of these things create, though, I love that this infographic is proactive and tells us how we can considerably cut our use of plastic. Before sharing the infographic, I’ll just pull those out so that you are sure not to miss them:

  1. Use reusable bags, not plastic or paper.
  2. Drop the bottled water.
  3. Don’t use single-use plastic packaging (buy in bulk when you can).
  4. Leave the sandwich bags on the shelf and use reusable sandwich boxes instead.
  5. Go the classy route and use silverware, not plastic-ware.
  6. Let the ’90s go — go digital… no more CDs, plastic CD cases, and so on.
  7. Use a refillable dispenser for your soap and cleaning supplies.
  8. Use a nice “to-go” mug instead of cups made of plastic or styrofoam (don’t even want to go into that issue).
  9. Try to buy products that don’t contain hard-to-recycle plastics (when you need to buy something, that is).
  10. Better yet, find products not made of plastic at all (again, when you absolutely have to buy something).

Great tips. Don’t think I could have come up with a better list.

Here’s the full infographic (enjoy):

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Zach is the director of and, sites covering global warming causes and effects, endangered plant and animal news, ways to green your life, solar and wind power news, and much more.

  • Lee Dobbins

    Great visuals on something a lot of people don’t think enough about including myself. The tips are great, I know I am guilty of not paying enough attention to my use of plastic so I will be watching that and keeping those tips in mind. I thought the article was important so I “curated” this to my blog!

    • Karen Lee

      Thanks for sharing! More people are aware, the better!

    • zach

      Thanks! I think we could ALL be a little more attentive 😀

  • Heather O’Hara Levesque

    This is a really informative infographic on the damage we are causing ourselves and our world with all the plastic we are producing. The idea of a ban or tax on disposable plastic bags is a good one for a start. Some places I shop at offer a discount for bringing BYOB ( Another great idea! Thanks for posting.

    • Karen Lee

      Thanks for your comment. There are many stores now that give you credit for bringing your own bag. So everyone should.

  • Free Range Mama

    Good article. I am going to share it on my facebook page. Thanks! By the way, I dare you to get into the disposable coffee cup issue LOL! It’s a good one.

    • zach


    • Karen Lee

      I hear ya about disposable coffee cups. I tried to refill my travel mug once and the Barista refused. She said it was against the company’s policy! They rather spend money on buying cups than selling me just the coffee in my own cup??? I didn’t buy their coffee and walked out.

  • David / PlanetThoughts

    Fortunately, I have been following these tips for a couple of years now. I use a French press for coffee (no paper filter), and if buying a hot drink outside, use my own sealed mug. Cloth shopping bags are in my car trunk and have been used for the last four years and are still going strong. Bottled water is an abomination, and if I buy a drink outside it is generally Snapple (now only metal and glass), and I carry the bottle to recycle it. And, no plastic tableware (and I avoid using straws for water at restaurants — thirty or forty years ago these were never offered at restaurants!).

    Not trying to boast… but showing that with modest effort we can greatly cut the use of plastics. And it interesting that once I started doing the above, it felt really disturbing to consider going back to my earlier behaviors even once. That is, staying in the plastic habit dulls one’s perception of the harm one is doing, and changing those habits makes a person more aware. It feels good to take these simple steps to make things even slightly better.

    • Karen Lee

      It starts out with little things. And yes, it feels great to take simple steps and then turn them into life long habits of greater things. Thanks for your inspirational comment!

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  • http://Web Uncle B

    Oil – source of the offending plastics is in short supply, scarce and soon to be bought out by the enormous Asian market. China knows of this impending scarcity, and they have a solution! Thorium fueled LFTR reactors that produce no humanocidal plutonium, little waste, waste is benign, safe after only 3 hundred years storage.(Google this, don’t take my word) They intend to use the electricity thus produced, to power bullet-train networks, and their associated, electric powered human infrastructures, and daisy chain these Pan-Eurasia.In this oil free utopia they expect to produce better, cheaper, products than any other nation for world markets, as well as sustainable living conditions for their population controlled people. This is but one of many ‘freedom from oil’ thrusts. China already has a safer, cheaper, reactor up and operating! Google Tsinghua University, China, pebble bed gas reactors – Yes they can! and did exceed American designed Fuckoshima styled reactors! A long time ago! More? Google Thorium fueled CANDU reactors! China has them now! Up and running! Humanocidal Plutonium free nuclear power! Today ! in China! Imagine the impact on the Chinese economy, cheap, clean, plutonium free, waste free, electric power, from cheap and plentiful, easy to mine, easy to process, Thorium, for their huge working forces! America has fallen behind, stuck on stupid, a nuclear industry paralyzed by “legacy inertia”, still building bomb making, humanocidal, plutonium creating plutonium creating proven by Fuckoshima, disastrous reactors – lost in the 60’s, still singing those songs, driving those cars? Very sad indeed.
    Can America’s “rubber wheel, gasoline burning, McMansion in the ‘burbs, 4 lanes to the factory door” paradigm compete with China’s new Thorium, bullet train vision? You be the judge.
    Will plastics play a role? Consider this: China recycles everything, even humanure, out of economic pressure. Small bits of wire, tin-foil, even every small bit of plastic has a cash value in China. These are the people who eat “everything with its back to the sun”. They will recycle and re-manufacture, and reuse even the smallest scraps of material, especially plastic, especially as oil, plastic’s main source grows scare. Even the great ocean deposits of plastic may be mined one day!
    North Americans suffer from surpluses, giving them the illusion they can afford to waste. World economics dare dictating otherwise to the folks living the “American Dream” aren’t they! In a short time, the Off-grid, “hidden nation” within a nation will become the wealthiest survivors in America, the more powerful and secretive operators behind the scenes, and life will change drastically for the Uber-Rich who now hold the current Middle Class hostage. Plastic might remain as a highly valued recycled, re-used commodity and may even be given its rightful respect, not tossed just because we can! America’s come-uppance is on the horizons! Approaching fast! Unstoppable! Grow a garden, till the soil, find unpolluted waters, save seeds, learn humanuring (Google free book on net), composting, gardening, pickling, Sauerkrauting, food drying, survival skills, aquaponics, just in case, just in case the ruling Uber-Rich get even more greedy, corrupt, extractive, and force semi-slavery upon the land! Remember: as it is, they pay no taxes! What other secrets about them have yet to come to light? Beware!
    Plastic: save all you can! one day, worth more than the U.S.dollar! Plastic the ultimately storable form of oil!Leave your children great piles of plastic ‘garbage’ they will so thank you for it, and it does not spoil in storage! Gold at $1770.00 /oz. this morning! What value on plastic?