In 2018, the European Union proposed a ban on the top 10 plastic items most commonly found on beaches and in waterways around the world. This drastic action could significantly reduce the availability of modern consumers' favorite single-use items — such as cotton ear swabs and picnic forks — and pave the way for more research in creating environmentally sustainable products and materials. According to a 2017 report from Seas at Risk, "46 billion bottles, 36 billion straws, 16 billion coffee cups and two billion plastic takeout containers are consumed annually in the European Union," and when you see the internet-viral photos of floating garbage islands and mounds of plastic straws, you can probably believe it. Reportedly, only 14% of global plastic is currently recycled, and plastic is particularly harmful as it takes more than 400 years to degrade.
As powerful as passing a measure like this is, however, there remains the question of all the other hazardous materials — plastic and otherwise — that pollute the Earth at an astonishing rate. Why stop at beach litter; why not tackle the plethora of other unsustainable products currently in overuse on the market? What single-use, disposable items could you live without? Which ones should be banned?