Sobering photos show what a week’s worth of plastic looks like for typical families around the world

Plastic is out of control.

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Plastic is out of control.
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Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Humans produce an estimated 300 million tons of plastic every year.
  • But plastic is increasingly being recognized as one of the biggest threats to the environment.
  • Reuters sent photographers around the world to document what a week’s worth of plastic looks like for average families.

The use of plastic has exploded in the last half century, so much that we produce an estimated 300 million tons of the stuff every year.

But plastic is increasingly being recognized as one of the biggest threats to the environment – it takes so long to decompose that much of our plastic waste ends up in oceans, rivers, beaches, and other natural habitats.

How much plastic are we really using at a household level? Reuters sought to answer that question by sending photographers around the world to document a week’s worth of plastic waste generated by a typical family.

The photos are a sobering reminder of how ubiquitous plastic is in our everyday lives, from the packaging our food comes in to the shopping bags we use to carry it home.

Read on to see how much plastic a typical family generates in a week:


Brandy and Anthony Wilbur from Wenham, Massachusetts, said they are trying to cut back buying products with plastic packaging. “We’re aware and try our best to reduce our use of plastics, but it’s hard,” Brandy said.

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Reuters/Brian Snyder

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Here’s all the plastic they consumed during a week in May. “When shopping, I do try to buy products with minimal packaging, but that’s challenging too, everything is packaged,” Brandy said.

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Reuters/Brian Snyder

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Roshani Shrestha, a mother from Kathmandu, Nepal, said it’s hard to avoid plastic bags where she lives. “We would use alternatives to plastic since it helps the environment, but it is not possible, since most of the products come either in plastic wrap or some other forms of plastic,” she said.

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Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar

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Here’s the plastic waste her family generated in a week.

Plastic is out of control.

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Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar

Source: Reuters


Alexander Raduenz of Berlin, Germany, said he, his wife, and two daughters are trying to lower their carbon footprint as much as possible.

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Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

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“We are pretty much aware of the impact plastic has on our environment,” said Alexander. “If alternatives to plastic are available, we are using them instead.”

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Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

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Natalia Lyritsis said she wishes there was more environmental awareness in her native Greece.

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Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

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“We recycle plastic, paper, glass, et cetera, and try to buy products made from recycled materials,” she said. “We try to have as many plants as possible on our balcony.”

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Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

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Eri Sato of Yokohama, Japan had a grimmer outlook: “I think there’s no escaping plastic waste. I see it on the streets, in the mountains, underwater. It’s literally everywhere,” she said.

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Reuters/Kim Kyung Hoon

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Here’s the plastic her family used in a week.

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Reuters/Kim Kyung Hoon

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On the other end of the spectrum, Lauren Singer from Brooklyn has managed to keep her use of plastic to an extreme minimum. She’s the founder of Package Free Shop, which sells products with no plastic packaging, and started the blog Trash is for Tossers.

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Reuters/Mike Segar

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This is all the non-recyclable and non-compostable plastic waste Singer generated over a five-year period — amazingly, it fits inside a 16-ounce Mason jar.

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Reuters/Mike Segar

Source: Reuters