In fact, what happens to a lot of plastic is that it drifts from landfills and populated areas into the water ways. The documentary Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch shows you footage of their own discovery of what plastic does from netting entangling coral reefs to pieces of plastic eaten by seabirds. In the documentary, the research states that often the people that use netting for fish will leave the net in the ocean. In one instance, one sperm whale found in California in 2008 died because it ingested 22.2 kilos of plastic in its lifetime.
Because plastic is relatively low cost, "easy" to manufacture, versatile, and resistant to water, plastics are highly valued by people. According to Andrady of "Applications and societal benefits of plastics" says "packaging beverages in PET plastic rather than glass or metal is estimated to save 52% in transportation energy". While this may be the case, I am advocating for a an entire shift away from pre-packaged beverages and things altogether. Yes, that sounds like I do not want to buy anything at all, and that sounds very strange to people to imagine a world where things aren't wrapped or packaged, or that things wouldn't exist at all. That is the concern for people.
According to The World Counts, global plastic waste has created a gigantic “plastic soup” the size of Russia in the Pacific of up to 15 million square kilometers. In 10 years, this amount will double. This year alone, we will be producing 5 trillion plastic bags, equating to 160,000 every second. All of us are guilty of this plastic convenient bag. But for the last 6 years I have used cloth bags every time I go to the grocery store so I'm not using plastic grocery bags. Of course when there is an occasional plastic bag that ends up at the house, I use it for the bathroom trash (I may do a video or a post on what I do with plastic bags in the future.)
Even on my behalf, I have limited the amount of trash and waste I produce and throw away. For years I saved plastics and took them to the recycling place, but realized: this is only adding to the environmental degradation--it's fueling the fire, so to speak. I save cardboard boxes to burn later, I save glass bottles, and other things so I'm not throwing them away. I realize though that I'm surrounding myself in trash and waste as to avoid adding to it to be dumped elsewhere.
I have mentioned this before in several posts: that instead of logging trees and clear cutting forests for carbon materials like box, loose leaf paper, and many other things, we can use hemp or bamboo instead because they are low impact materials. This can be said for plastic as well, by replacing plastic with hemp fibers.
People think because bottled water exists, that somehow it's better than tap water (although I find that tap water tastes like bleach, I still drink it instead of bottled water.) But, more people are buying different beverages in plastic bottles, and of course when you give people so many options, they help these corporations get rich.
Once again, individual solutions are good, but there will need to be large scale change that requires corporations to refuse buying and using plastic while completely changing the way they package items. Or even better, these corporations realize that what they produce and sell is meaningless to life, adds to the trash and waste of the world, and realize that they only produce things to make money instead of creating everlasting change. Actually, the large corporations need to be held accountable for all the unhealthy food and beverage options and the waste that exists in the world--we cannot blame people for their own mindless gluttony because it's the rich that are exploiting that notion of people.
There are many micro and individual solutions, like Sweet, a company that takes travelers to destinations like Mexico, that they call 'gaycations' to clean up the environment and do many community service projects during their stay. I found that to be interesting and mindful, so I recommend watching the full video here for some inspiration.