Why is plastic so bad?
Plastic, Plastic, Plastic, it's everywhere. What is plastic? How does plastic harm our planet? How long does plastic last? What plastic can be recycled? How can we fix this plastic crisis? We will go above and beyond and answer these questions asked in-depth as possible. Today plastic is everywhere and the world is only just waking up today realizing it’s not a good thing. It’s almost like we are so surrounded by plastic in our everyday lives that we hardly notice it. Plastic is in the vicheles we drive, the planes we fly in and even the clothes we wear. Did you know in today’s world cars and planes are made up of about 50% plastic? Also today with our clothing the materials preferred are polyester and nylon which are both plastics. Plastic is everywhere in today’s world and we need to reduce producing this deadly material before it’s too late and our future world suffers for eternity.
What is Plastic?
The term ‘’plastic’’ is derived from the Greek word ''plastikos'', meaning fit for molding. This refers to the material’s malleability, or plasticity during manufacture, which allows it to be cast, pressed, or extruded into a variety of shapes - such as films, fibers, plates, tubes, bottles, boxes, and much more.
At the end of the day, some of us might ask, what even is plastic? Well, let’s dive into the technical side of things for you and give you a breakdown. Plastic is a term commonly used to describe a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that are used in a huge and growing range of applications. Plastics are made from natural materials such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt, and crude oil through a polymerization or polycondensation process. Most people don’t even realize that we use plastic products to make our lives easier, cleaner, safer and more enjoyable. You’ll find plastic in clothes you wear, the house you live in, the car you drive, the toys you use to play with, the televisions you watch, the computers you use, and even the DVD’s you watch, it’s everywhere spreading like wildfire and it’s only going to get worse if we don’t do our part. Around the world, we depend on plastic and now we are drowning in it. Although within saying this we are extremely uneducated on how plastic damages our planet and that’s why this article was born to give you a little more insight on the plastic pollution issue we face today.
Plastic is everywhere
Plastic pollution is found everywhere, from the tip of the north down to the bottom of the south of our globe. Plastic waste clogs in our street drains and cities, Plastic is littered around campgrounds and national parks and it's actually evening piling up on Mount Everest. In 2017, plastics generation was 35.4 million tons in the United States. It also believed in the united states that 100 billion plastic bags are used yearly.
Today the more serious problem we face is that plastic is continually being dumped in the world’s oceans at a rapid rate. Between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic, that's right... not pieces of plastic, tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, according to figures published in the journal Science in 2015 causing plastic pollution. Plastic debris can enter the ocean as large, identifiable items or as microplastics - pieces under five millimeters in length.
People have found mountains of plastic waste in our oceans, it’s sickening, right? Yes, we think so too. Now if these statistics don’t make your jaw drop in disgust as it does to ours then we will fill you in a little more. Plastic waste is found in the guts of more than 90% of the world's sea birds, in the stomachs of more than half of the world’s sea turtles and today pieces of plastic are now even choking our whales. Ready to throw up yet? Well, we are not done yet. At the rate in which plastic is entering our oceans on the planet, it’s predicted by 2050 the mass of plastic in the world’s oceans will exceed the mass of all the fish that live there. Let’s make this clear to you, plastic does not biodegrade, nor are they digestible. What does this mean for our future? That our ocean will be covered in plastic, and our marine life? Wel... that’s a different story if we keep continuing to produce plastic at the current rate we are there will be no such thing as marine life. Ready to make a change in your plastic use yet? We will take that as a yes.
Most plastics last forever
Did you know about 1992 rubber duckie escape? Well In 1992, a shipping crate containing 28,000 plastic bath toys was lost at sea when it fell overboard on its way from Hong Kong to the United States. During this incident we learned a few things, plastics survive even the harshest conditions, such as floating around in a marine environment under blistering, unrelenting sunshine or frozen into Arctic ice for years before finally floating away and landing on some faraway shore. For this reason, plastics will probably outlast humanity itself. Especially plastic bags, they are the worse. Plastic bags and water bottles will never biodegrade. Isn’t this a scary thought? Tons of plastic outlasting humanity? Well, the time to make a change to your plastic use is now to ensure our future generations don’t suffer from plastic waste around the world.
What plastic can be recycled?
So by tomorrow, you’ll most likely find yourself in the kitchen staring into the distance, scratching your head, thinking what plastics can be recycled and how can I make a difference to plastic pollution? Well currently, only nine percent of the world’s plastic is recycled - a problem because most plastics are not biodegradable and typically take more than 400 years to degrade. And at the end of the day plastic waste never fully degrades, rather it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that are eventually ingested by marine life.
Just to make you more self-aware of plastic pollution, single-use plastics are the worst kinds of plastic, that include plastic bags, food packaging, and straws. Most of the plastic waste produced is used in packaging - which accounts for more than 40 percent of non-fiber plastic, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances. That's a huge amount of plastic if you ask us. However, nearly all solid plastic, such as plastic water bottles, are capable of being recycled to avoid plastic waste.
How can we fix this?
In conclusion, let’s get to the bottom of this. You’ve learned about what plastic is and why it’s so bad for our environment, now it’s time to come up with a solution so you can do your part and not be guilty to be apart of the plastic waste crisis. Today we haven’t come up with a complete solution to plastic pollution but we can tell you small changes can make a big difference. That’s right, small changes make a big difference, especially when it comes to plastic pollution. It’s one of those things, it’s easy not to do.. but it’s also extremely easy to do. We advise you to be respected to mother nature and our beautiful planet as our kids, kids will get the opportunity to live here one day and we sure hope by then that our planet isn't covered in plastic waste. We suggest reducing the amount of plastic you use by choosing to forgo straws, as many restaurants have begun to do, this is a small difference that lessens the plastic waste and protects our marine life around the world. We also suggest switching to reusable bags when shopping, this will also make a difference as single-use plastic bags play the main role in this problem. With plastic bottles, we recommend replacing them for a stainless steel bottle. Plastic bottles will most likely never biodegrade Furthermore, we suggest you know the proper way to recycle common plastics as this is crucial and it’ll keep plastics from the ocean. Another potential solution that was recently found by accident, relies on a mutant enzyme that is capable of breaking down plastic bottles. Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists accidentally discovered the enzyme - which could recycle plastic for reuse as plastic and fundamentally reduce the amount of plastic in the environment, according to the study’s author, University of Portsmouth professor John McGeehan. If each person dedicated their attention to the plastic issue, the detrimental effects of plastic on the world could be lessened.
Well there you have it, you now understand why plastic is so bad and harmful to planet Earth and yet we continue to produce a million tons of plastic around the world each year. Reading an article and gaining knowledge from it is one thing, although taking action and making a difference is a whole different story. We encourage you to be the hero, the role model in your family, the leader in your circle of friends by educating them on how tons of plastic are damaging our planet and ways they can reduce their plastic use. At the end of the day, you would feel pretty good right by spreading this knowledge knowing you could have the potential to save thousands of turtles, seabirds, whales and make a huge difference to our marine animals? We think so too and we know you’re more than capable of doing so. Make a difference to the world and make that change today so we can lift our heads high knowing we are making the world a better place.