In 1997, the US Academy of Sciences estimated the total input of marine litter into the oceans, worldwide, at approximately 6.4 million tons per year and that was 13 years ago when the population was smaller. More people, more plastic. 80% of marine debris is reported to be plastics, says Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste. So an estimated total of 5.2 million tons of plastic spill into our ocean each year. This averages out to be roughly 27 million lbs of plastic entering our oceans daily. BP's skimpy estimation of 210,000 gallons equals 1.4 million lbs daily. Of course, we all know that BP's estimation is askew and the number is much higher. But even if oil is spewing out 10 times faster it still doesn't equal in poundage the rate of plastic. Now I know that oil in water is an even worse mix than plastic, but plastic is entering our oceans faster than this oil spill.
According to the US Dept of Energy, only 4.6 percent of our oil consumption is used to manufacture plastic, not a big number right? The truth is it is roughly 331 million BARRELS of petroleum. That equals 13,902,000,000 gallons of oil, just in plastic in the US. Hmmmm. Imagine if we could reduce our use of plastic to the point that we don't need as many oil rigs.According to California Coastal Commission, plastic marine debris affects at least 267 species worldwide, including 86 percent of all sea turtle species, 44 percent of all sea bird species, and 43 percent of marine mammal species. Imagine these species contending with yet another petroleum pollutant - trying to swim through toxic oil.
So if we kick our plastic dependency, we just might reduce the demand for oil in yet another way. And, at the same time, protect our oceans.