Plastic Pollution: The U.S’s Timeless Troublesome Legacy

Plastic Pollution: The U.S’s Timeless Troublesome Legacy

In the US, we create over 42 million metric tons of plastic pollution each year — more than every country in the European Union combined. This raises two important questions:

  • How did we get to that number?
  • What can we do about it?


Let’s look at some contributing factors of plastic pollution in the U.S. and how we can create a cleaner country and a healthier world. 

Food and Packaging Is a Leading Plastic Pollution Contributor

According to the EPA, food and plastic packaging accounts for 45% of America’s landfill usage. Some of it never makes its way into landfills and instead litters our streets, soil, and waterways. In an analysis of litter done by Vox in 2014, they found 100 million plastic bags among that litter. They also state that prior to a plastic bag ban in California, single-use plastic bags accounted for 8% of litter in creeks around San Jose and 15% of trash floating in Monterrey Bay. 

These may be very specific locations, but it’s not hard to imagine that being true for communities across the country. 

How Plastic Pollution Threatens American Communities

Bags and other forms of plastic pollution aren’t just eyesores. They’re downright dangerous to our health and the health of increasingly-threatened ecosystems. 

Typically, plastic takes thousands of years to decay. During that time, they leech harmful chemicals into soil and water. Some of the more common chemicals found in plastic, such as BPA and phthalates, have been linked to: 

  • Cancer
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Fertility issues
  • Developmental problems
  • Obesity
  • Asthma


The threat doesn’t end there, though. As larger pieces of plastic pollution break down, they can become microplastics — pieces of plastic less than .2-inches long. Along with leaching chemicals into soil, microplastics do the same to any organism that ingests them while also damaging their internal organs.

Scientists are also finding microplastics in the blood cells of fish. With this worrying discovery, researchers investigated where else microplastics infiltrate. The answer is virtually everywhere: packaged sea salt, beer and both tap and bottled water. Recently, scientists even found microplastics embedded in human lung tissue.  

Plastic pollution isn’t the only source of microplastics in America. It also comes from clothes fibers, construction materials, beauty products and other commercial products.

What Do We Do About Plastic Pollution in the U.S?

From plastic bags choking sea life in Florida to microplastics embedding themselves in our internal organs, there are plenty of reasons to take swift action against plastic pollution, but what exactly do we do? With less than 9% of America’s plastic being recycled, is there an alternative that could actually work?

The answer is to eliminate plastic from our daily lives as much as possible. Eight states have already banned single-use plastic bags, but for the rest of the U.S. to get onboard, single-use plastics need to be replaced with something as convenient yet less harmful.  

Dirtbags Bioplastics is equipped to meet that demand. With compostable bags made from cornstarch, our products don’t leach chemicals into soil and can actually nourish it. Many of our bags are also reusable for up to three months. They’re temperature- and liquid-resistant and can hold an average load of groceries.

Don’t let plastic pollution take an unyielding grip on your community. Learn about the sustainability of biodegradable bags and make the switch today.

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