Do you ever notice the pile of trash that is left over when you're done with your take-out meal? Our "throw-away" lifestyle creates tons of waste from single-use products that we use for just a few minutes. The lifecycle environmental impacts on the planet from all this single-use stuff are enormous.
For example: the average useful life of a "to-go" paper coffee cup, with the lid, the sleeve, the stir stick, and even the tray to hold it is 12 minutes! American consumers use 130 billion paper cups per year for coffee. That disposable coffee- cup habit uses 27 billion gallons of water, consumes 25 million trees, and generates 31 billion pounds of CO2.
There is something you can do about it: Pledge to reduce your reliance on single-use disposable products and packaging. Take the pledge here!
The impacts of disposables on the marine environment are big. The throwaway lifestyle is a huge contributor to the growing problem of plastics in inland and ocean waters. Our study of Bay Area street litter near highly impacted creeks and storm drains found 67% of the litter was take-out food and beverage packaging. Much of that trash is plastic that ends up in nearby waterways. Research shows that there is 100 times more plastic in the ocean today than 10 years ago, and 80% of all ocean plastic pollution originates on land as street litter, garbage blown out of landfills, or illegally dumped trash. Recent estimates indicate that 1.3 million pounds of trash enters San Francisco Bay from urban runoff every year. You might not be throwing your garbage on the street, but the trash that you generate can escape the landfill or an open dumpster or overflowing garbage can on city streets. We ALL contribute to the problem.