The Environmental Effects of Plastic Waste

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 17:15:39 PM America/Los_Angeles

From pens, to pee pads, to food containers, our fast-paced lives are facilitated by single use items made from plastic. While this has made things convenient for humans, it’s had a devastating effect on the planet. You’ve likely seen photos of plastic waste lining the beaches of what would otherwise be a tropical paradise. This is the direct and unfortunate result of decades of mass plastic consumption. Continue reading to learn more about what it is, how it’s become so prevalent, and some of the negative environmental effects of plastic waste.

Photo by Brian Yurasits

What is plastic waste?

Plastic waste, sometimes called plastic pollution, has increased exponentially in the past decades. Any discarded plastic that remains in our environment and adversely affects animals, the earth, or humans is considered plastic waste. Much of the plastic waste problem comes from single use plastics, but it can also come from larger items such as computers, appliances, and other household goods.

Why is plastic so popular? 

Plastic is a lightweight and relatively cheap material that’s versatile, which makes it ideal for manufacturing. Plastic is durable, moisture resistant, and degrades slowly, so it’s become a popular choice for commonly used items. However, the very qualities that have drawn us to plastic also means it stays in our environment without breaking down after it’s been discarded. 

What is wrong with plastic?

Plastic waste can directly impact humans by contaminating water. Roughly 1-8 million tons of plastic ends up in water--some of which are the main supply of water for communities and wildlife. Even if you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world that doesn’t have to struggle with this problem, that doesn’t mean you get away scot-free. There have been numerous news stories about food recalls due to plastic waste problems including plastics contamination, microplastics from biodegradable plastic in rain, and so on. These stories demonstrate that plastic waste is a real problem, no matter where you live. 

As litter, plastic waste ends up on our beaches, playgrounds, and highways. If the unsightliness of litter isn’t enough to convince you of the negative environmental effects of plastic waste, consider how plastic contributes to climate change. The more plastic we consume, the more factories have to produce, emitting greenhouse gasses that negatively impact climate change. 

Reducing the amount of plastic waste we produce will not only help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution, it prevents our landfills from being further overwhelmed. It can even save you money as reusable items minimize purchasing! Reconsider your use of plastics to make a small but lasting personal, local, and global impact. 


Bark Potty, an eco-friendly alternative to plastic pee pads, partners with 1% for the Planet to donate 1% of our sales to One Tree Planted. 1% for the Planet is a network of businesses that have committed to taking responsibility for the environmental impacts of their various industries. 1% for the Planet encourages businesses to practice corporate responsibility by facilitating donations to grassroots environmental organizations such as One Tree Planted. Each Bark Potty purchase you make further supports our collective efforts to reduce the ecological footprint that humans have left on the environment!