Here is something we should not be proud of, as a nation: According to a new study recently released in Science Advances, the United States produces five times more plastic pollution than previously thought, a fact that effectively makes us the largest creator of plastic waste across the globe.
The study specifically analyzed data from 2016—the most recent available—to find that, in that year, "the United States generated the largest amount of plastic waste of any country in the world (42 million metric tons)." To put things in perspective: the study notes that, in 2016, the U.S. accounted for 4% of the global population but generated 17% of all plastic waste.
The research went a step further. In fact, in the past, plastic waste that was exported from the U.S. for recycling or disposal was not included in the data—hence the conclusion that U.S.-consumed plastic currently polluting our environment is actually much larger than first believed. Following the U.S. on the list are the United Kingdom, South Korea and Germany.
The good news is that we can improve our behavior: although states like New Jersey and New York have already imposed plastic bag bans, folks from all over the country should vow to use the least amount of the product as possible. You can start doing your part by simply bringing some tote bags to the supermarket, perhaps, therefore avoiding the use of the plastic bags to you provided in store. As a general statement, the less plastic we use in our day-to-day lives, the less pollution we're likely to create.
So let's try to be better together for the sake of the world as a whole.
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