A plastic bottle could live 10 times as long as you: The real impact of what you’re throwing out

Many Australians are aware that what you throw away has a significant impact on our environment and ecosystems. However, what some don't realise is the true cost certain types of waste have on our environment, and how easily that impact could be reduced.

Take a closer look at some of the plastics that make up a portion of the 2,100 kilograms of rubbish the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) states each Australian disposes of per year:

Plastic bags

They're convenient, and you probably get offered one most days. But with plastic bags lasting up to 1,000 years after being dumped, each bag poses the threat of killing terrestrial and marine animals through strangulation, suffocation or ingestion. The process of producing a plastic bag for use also contributes to the creation of harmful greenhouse gases.

What's really shocking is that Clean Up Australia estimates up to 50 million of these dangerous items are released into the Australian litter stream each year. If you consider how long plastic bags could last, it's easy to see how rapidly the total may be growing.

Plastic bottles

Plastic bottles can also take up to 1,000 years before they finally decompose. These are also a danger to wildlife, in particular marine animals, who often mistake plastic rubbish for food. In a study conducted by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, an average of 2.1 pieces of plastic were found inside each of the 670 fish examined.

According to Clean Up Australia, there may be up to 100,000 mammals and as many as 1 million marine animals killed per year – all due to rubbish that ends up in the sea.

Consider these tips to reduce environmental waste:

•     Reusable bags are an easy alternative to plastic bags when grocery shopping – these are usually made from recyclable and durable materials, and can be used every time you shop.
•     Investing in a stainless steel water bottle ensures you reduce consumption of mass produced and harmful plastics, as well as saving money.