“Did You Know?” will be a monthly feature that shares information on various topics that affect our Common Home, such as plastics, aerosols, water, compost, etc. This feature will address and offer a challenge pertaining to the following Laudato Si’ Goals:

  1. Response to the cry of the Earth
  2. Adoption of a simple lifestyle
  3. Ecological education
  4. Community engagement and participatory action


  • The rate of plastic waste recycling in the United States fell to between 5%-6% in 2021 as some countries stopped accepting U.S. waste exports and as plastic waste generation surged to new highs. Per capita plastic waste went from 60 pounds per year in 1980 to 218 pounds in 2018 – a 263% total increase.
  • Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earthfour times.
  • Every day 48,000,000 pounds of waste plastic enter oceans. Ingestion of plastic kills an estimated 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
  • Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable that can extend the life of products ranging up to 400 years to break down.
  • Today, single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced annually.
  • Only 9% of all plastic produced is recycled.
  • An estimated 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s — that’s equivalent to the weight of more than 800,000 Eiffel Towers.
  • A whopping 2 million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide. The average time that a plastic bag is used is just 12 minutes.
  • One million plastic bottles are bought every minute and only one out of four is actually recycled.
  • A 2019 study found that we could be ingesting about 5 grams of plastic a week in drinking water—that’s the weight of a nickel. People who drink bottled water are exposed to much more than those who drink tap, since their water is stored in plastic.

CHALLENGE: Check out the Plastic Free Toolkit (greenamerica.org/plastic-free-toolkit) and choose a new way for reducing the amount of plastic you use.

Information sourced from the National Geographic Society, Global Citizen, Green America,  Better Alternatives Now, and Reuters.