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Plastic became popular in the 50s for its indestructibility, which is why it now poses an overwhelming problem: estimates for the time it takes plastic to biodegrade range from 450 years to never. Instead of biodegrading, most plastic breaks into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. Smaller doesn’t mean less threatening. These microplastics now show up in our food, in our water and in our air. The smaller they are, the more likely they are to break biological barriers and cause significant tissue damage.

Single use plastics symbolize the peak of throwaway culture, and the environment is paying the price. Items we use for minutes will outlive us by centuries, choking our oceans and waterways by the billions. This unrelenting waste impacts more than 1,200 wildlife species through entanglement or ingestion, often fatally. It leaks toxic chemicals into our soil and water, infiltrates animal tissue, and eventually enters our food chain. And it’s only getting worse. If we fail to make direct change, there could be more plastics in our oceans than fish within three decades.

Plastic can threaten our health not just in the form of pollution, but in its entire lifecycle. From the extraction of fossil fuels, to consumer use, to disposal, plastic poses distinct toxic risks to the people it touches. Numerous forms of cancer, birth defects, sensory issues, diabetes and more have been associated with the different stages in plastic’s lifecycle. And it’s not going anywhere: two-thirds of plastic ever produced remains in the environment.

Share this badge on Instagram and pledge to #QuitSingleUse for 24 hours


We’ve been cleaning trash from waterways for nine years, but picking it up is no longer enough; it’s time we begin addressing ocean pollution further upstream. Over the next year, United By Blue is committing to #QuitSingleUse plastic. By World Oceans Day 2020, we will be working to eliminate the following plastics from our business:

  • Individual poly bags
  • Master poly bags
  • Swift tags
  • Bubble bags
  • Trim bags
  • Fabric/BisonShield rolls
  • Binder sleeves
  • Plastic shrink wrap
  • Plastic tape

Plastic is everywhere, and it can be extremely difficult to stay away from. We stir our happy hour drinks with the single use straws they come with, reach for overpriced single use water bottles when we’re thirsty at the airport, and carry our dinner ingredients home in bundles of single use grocery bags. But with a little extra care, every single one of these items can be avoided as a whole or replaced with a reusable alternative. Here are some tips: