The Marathon Race to Cut Out Single-Use Plastics
By Ariel Williams
Did you know that roughly half a million people come to cheer on the runners in the Boston Marathon every year? For those of you – like me – who struggle without visuals… that amount of people could fill over 9,000 buses! Yipes.
This time of year usually marks the final prepping time for Boston Marathon enthusiasts. Thanks to COVID, we likely won’t be seeing our standard amount of spectators this year. Still, runners and cheerleaders alike are thrilled to hear that, as of now, the race is scheduled to come back in flame.
The annual marathon was canceled last year for the first time in 124 years. To the delight of everyone involved, it is set to come back this year for its 125th run, but this time not until October.
A fall schedule means more time to prepare and train, and also more time to think about how participation impacts our environment.
Did you know that the Boston Marathon went through roughly 62,000 disposable water bottles in 2017? While the Boston Athletic Association is making distinct efforts to decrease its carbon footprint, we can’t leave all of the work up to them – After all, we are the ones drinking the water. It’s time for us to all do our part to cut out single-use plastics!
Single-Use Plastic Bottles vs. Our One World Ocean
You know it, I know it, we all know it – we’re supposed to hydrate. Especially the sociopaths who are electing to run 26 miles for fun – can you tell I’m not a runner? But how often do we grab our favorite plastic bottle from the grocery store aisle without thinking twice?
Did you know that Americans buy close to 50 billion water bottles per year? And that over 40 billion of those are wasted?!
Let me throw some more stats at ya:
- According to the CDC, the U.S. has one of the world’s safest drinking water supplies. Nonetheless, we are still among the top consumers of bottled water per capita in the world!
- 8 million tons of plastic is added to our one world Ocean every year – you do know we only have one ocean, right?
- At the going rate, we’re estimated to have more plastic than fish in our ocean by the year 2050.
The history of the need for bottled water is intriguing. But while it had its place, our modern and readily available access to purified water rids us of our need for it. Bottled water has its place in instances of contaminated water, but is not necessary for most of us. We need to cut out single-use plastics.
Is Plastic in Our One World Ocean Really That Big of a Deal?
There are some who may see the ocean as so wide and vast that it’s really not that big of a deal if a wee bit of our trash gets lost in there. I mean, we can’t see it or experience any negative effects from it, so it’s not really that big of a deal – right?
Does Plastic in the Ocean Affect Humans?
In fact, the health of our one world Ocean very directly affects our own health. Folks in coastal fishing communities, small island nations, and in the high Arctic suffer the effects the worst. But the rest of us are right in line behind them.
Ya ready for more stats yet?
- More than 80% of marine litter is plastic
- Virtually all of us have microplastics in our systems thanks to the flow of the food chain
- Not only are the plastics ingested by marine animals causing them internal harm – the chemicals that leech out of these plastics are dangerous as well. I’m talkin about diseases and pathologies like cancers, developmental disorders, and reproductive abnormalities.
And if you’re looking for a dollar amount you can put into the benefit of giving up plastic water bottles – you could save about $1,400 per year. That is – if you drink your recommended 8 glasses per day. Drinking it from the tap by contrast would only cost you approximately 49¢ a year.
Vital for Sustaining Life
Our oceans are vital for sustaining life. They take part in releasing oxygen – which, call me crazy, I like to breathe now and then – and in absorbing carbon dioxide. In fact, 50-70% of our oxygen comes from our one world Ocean. It provides food, medicine, income, life, and culture. And when you eat contaminated, polluted food from a contaminated, polluted ocean, what do you think is going to happen?
Microplastics – tiny pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters long – make their way through the ocean and are mistaken for food by animals. In fact, an estimated 1 million birds die from plastic every year!
And the saddest news is that there is no way to remove plastic once it’s been found in an animal. There is also no wild seafood source that can guarantee that their products have no plastic in them. And it’s not just wildlife. Microplastics have now gotten into human placentas! Do I really need to say it again? We need to cut out single-use plastics!
But I Recycle My Water Bottles
I hear you. You think, “Well I recycle Ariel, so I’m not one of those heathens contributing to our ocean pollution. I’m doing my part!” Let’s talk.
How Well Is Plastic Recycled?
Brace yourself. I have some more debbie-downer news in store.
Did you know that 91% of the 350 trillion tons of the world’s manufactured plastic goes unrecycled?! That junk ends up polluting landfills and making its way into our one world Ocean. It then leads to our aforementioned health problems in wildlife and people – the folks who consume them.
So what about that 9% that is recycled?
- 14% of that is incinerated and/or goes through an energy recovery process.
- 40% ends up in landfills!
- 32% escapes the waste collection system entirely and just pollutes the earth.
But perhaps the worst news there is that plastics take an average of 100-500 years to decompose! Plastic bottles specifically? – A whopping 450 years! Plastic bottles are also among the most common plastic debris found on our coasts.
Once that plastic does degrade, it releases chemicals that further contaminate the sea.
What Can We Possibly Do To Help Our One World Oceans?
You may be thinking, “Well, sheesh Ariel. What the heck do I do now?” The good news here, my friend, is that we all can take simple, daily steps to decrease our footprint and help our ocean.
Tips for Cutting Out Single-Use Plastic at the 2021 Boston Marathon
Runners of the Boston Marathon generally don’t carry a plastic water bottle with them during the run. But they do bring hydration with them for the moment they cross the finish line and their legs give way.
And while the guidelines for spectators have yet to be established, there will no doubt be folks hanging out and cheering them on – and drinking water. So what to do?
Perhaps my most obvious response will be to ditch the single-use, throw-away, not-well-recycled-and-takes-500-years-to-degrade-even-if-they-are-recycled water bottles. YES. The most effective and doable change you can make is to cut out single-use plastics as much as possible.
Save yourself some money, buy a reusable water bottle – you can shop for one right here! Fill it up with some delicious purified water from home!
After the marathon – or before. I’m not gonna tell you how to live your life – read some more on the dangers of plastic, single-use water bottles like “How Water Bottles Came to Rule The World – And Why They May Destroy It”.
Tips for Cutting Out Single-Use Plastics Every Day
Small Steps to Make Big Waves
Don’t stop at the marathon though. We need our one world Ocean to provide clean oxygen and healthy animals every day.
Educate yourself on what we are doing to our ocean and on what you can do about it! Read more at our Ocean Blue Environmental News Blog. In fact, this article on 5 easy ways to reduce your single-use plastic is a great place to start!
Share this blog and help to spread awareness. You can also sign up for our Ocean Blue Project email newsletter at the bottom of our homepage. You’ll get transparent, relevant information delivered straight to your inbox.
Say NO to single-use plastics when you’re out at restaurants. Speak up to your favorite local joints about how environmental friendliness affects where you eat. Find an alternative to plastic grocery bags.
Donate to Ocean Blue. Our commitment is to remove one pound of plastic for every dollar donated!
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We are the problem here my friend, which means that we can be the solution.
Author Bio: Ariel is a freelance copywriter in the holistic sphere. Known as the Hippie Copywriter, Ariel loves writing with passion and voice for all things pertaining to life, love, healing, community, and our Mother Earth.