Plastics do not biodegrade in the environment, but rather break down into smaller pieces. Oftentimes plastic ends up breaking down into what is known as microplastics, which are particles with a diameter of 5 mm or less. Microplastics pose a threat because of their small size, specifically because they small enough to enter organisms by way of drinking water and food sources. Microplastics have breached the food chain and have even made their way into our bodies.
Loose plastics can easily make their way into the oceans. We have probably all seen the images of animals ensnared by plastics that have made their way out to sea. It is critical that we do whatever is in our power to keep plastic from making its way into the oceans.
Another compelling reason is that plastics are made out of oil, which is a non-renewable resource. Oil is a vital substance and we rely on it for a number reasons, and for that reason we should not expend it on unnecessary items like making disposable lids for coffee.
If you’d like to know more, take a look at this TED Talk on what really happens when we throw plastic away.