Plastic Pollution Facts


According to National Geographic, ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year. One way to stop the tide on plastic pollution is to reduce using disposable, single-use plastics.

We Have a Plastics Problem

  • Plastics make up almost 90 percent of trash in the oceans.

  • More than 40 percent of plastic is used just once, then tossed.

  • 18 billion pounds of plastic trash flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions. That is the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash sitting on every foot of coastline around the world.

  • Plastics break down into smaller and smaller pieces but remain in our environment for hundreds of years or longer.

Plastic Bags

  • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.

  • The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year, but only one percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling.

  • Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes before ending up in the trash.

  • More than 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.

Skip the Straw

  • A straw is used for an average of 10 minutes before ending up in the trash.

  • Approximately 600 straws are used per person, per year.

  • 500 million straws are used in the U.S. every day.

  • Every year, consumers in the U.S. use enough straws to wrap around the earth 2.5 times.

Plastic Water Bottles

  • Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, enough to circle the Earth five times!

  • Every person in the U.S. purchases an average of 13 bottles per month.

  • Less than a third of all plastic bottles are recycled.

  • By using a reusable water bottle, you could save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually.


  • Expanded polystyrene foam products, including foodware, break into small pieces that float and ultimately end up littering our oceans and beaches.

  • Animals can mistake Styrofoam for food or nesting materials, causing them harm.

  • Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups every year.

Learn More

This information was compiled from sources including: