NAPOLI, CAMPANIA, ITALY - 2018/10/30: A beach in Naples covered with plastic waste and debris brought by the storm of recent days. The bad weather that struck Naples has caused a lot of damage and inconvenience also on the beaches. (Photo by Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB /LightRocket via Getty Images)

Britain's Royal Statistical Society has announced its 2018 Statistic of the Year—but there's little reason to celebrate.

The society called attention to the growing problem that plastic presents to the environment with this sobering figure: 90.5% of plastic has never been recycled.

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XI'AN, CHINA - 2018/05/30: A girl drinks a Starbucks coffee with a plastic straw. Starbucks announced on July 9th that it would ban the use of plastic straws in its 28 thousand stores before 2020. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A new effort to reduce pollution has been trending on a national scale. Recently, companies like Starbucks have announced policies intended to reduce the production and use of plastic straws. While the full effect of this policy won't be felt until 2020, Starbucks estimates that the move will eliminate more than 1 billion straws globally, most of which currently end up in landfills.

Last year, a video showing a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck up its nose went viral. In the aftermath, campaigns like #StopSucking—an effort to free oceans from plastic waste—have gained notable traction. In addition to Starbucks, many local municipalities and communities are likely to follow suit with their own bans. According to CNN, American Airlines will be eliminating plastic straws on its flights, in favor of stir sticks.

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An employee of the Polihon Communal Enterprise picks out plastic bottles at a municipal solid waste (MSW) sorting line launched near Rybne village, Kosiv district, Ivano-Frankivsk Region, western Ukraine, June 12, 2018. Ukrinform. (Photo credit should read Yurii Rylchuk / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

We all want to leave a legacy. Whether that takes the form of creative works, breakthrough discoveries, children, or other actions, we all want a way to show we were here. For nearly all of us, though, that legacy will be a literal ton of plastic garbage. Every disposable cup, straw, food wrapper, plastic bag, toy and bottle we use adds up to a lot of trash—9 billion tons of it and counting. The vast majority is still here, and will still be here thousands of years after we are gone. It is our most lasting legacy.

It is a problem of monumental proportions, and a solution is urgently needed. Perhaps science has discovered one. At a recycling plant in Japan in 2016, researchers discovered a microbe that has evolved to eat plastic.

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Young girl blows glitter into the air. (Getty Images)

Scientists have acknowledged what parents of young children have known for decades: glitter is an environmental hazard.

If glitter seems to live on for years after a single ill-considered craft project, it’s not your imagination: Modern glitter made from foil and plastics not only sticks to everything due to static electricity, it does not disintegrate and eventually ends up in the world’s oceans.

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While extracting samples from a Pakistani landfill site outside of Islamabad, researchers discovered a soil fungus that feeds on plastic.

It is no surprise that landfills around the world contain tons upon tons of plastic. When combined with the oceans’ contents, the number reaches into the billions of tons — and humans continue to produce plastic in factories daily, despite efforts at recycling and creating reusable substances.

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Credit: Source

[DIGEST: The Guardian, ScienceAlert, Christian Science Monitor]

When an aerial survey organized by Ocean Cleanup flew over the Pacific Ocean between California and the Hawaiian Islands, the crew was shocked by what they saw. While they’d expected to see some trash – scientists have known for years about rotating gyres of garbage swirling at different spots in the Pacific, pulled there by ocean currents – the quantity was much higher than they’d anticipated. In 2.5 hours, they counted over 1,000 pieces of garbage.  

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