Plastic and Us
Personally I can't believe the impact plastic has on our lives and our planet. Plastic is a revolutional material which has solved many problems but has also created many more resulting in us suffocating our planet.
So what is plastic??
Plastic is long chains of synthetic poly-mas linked together to create a very durable, light weight, easily pliable material which can be molded into any shape. We use plastic in packaging, phones, appliances, clothing, cars, building material, computers and houses. This is just to name a few areas where we use plastic.
We as a species have produced 8,3 BILLION metric tons of plastic since 1907. Just in 2016 we produced 335 MILLION metric tons of plastic. We are rapidly raising the quantity of plastic production every year. With this vast increase so also will plastic waste increase at the same rate. We have created 1,3 BILLION metric tons of plastic waste since 1907 which if all put in one place can form a cube of 1,9km by 1,9km by 1,9km.
So how have we been dealing with our plastic waste? In short, we haven't! 9% is recycled, 12% is burned and the remaining 79% is not dealt with accordingly and ends up in our oceans and land fills. 8 MILLION metric tons of plastic waste ends up in the oceans every year. Many animals starve because of consuming undigestable plastic left lying around. 90% of all sea birds have eaten plastic and most likely have perished or become very ill because of it.
Apart from all this we have another much bigger problem on our hands because of plastic. Microplastic! Microplastic is little bits of plastic smaller the 5mm. Microplastic comes from plastic in ocean being broken down into smaller pieces from UV radiation. This massively affects our oceans and sea creatures to the amount of 51 TRILLION particles. These particles are consumed by sea creatures which also often consumed by us and in turn enter into our bodies. Other ways we consume these microplastics is through cosmetics and toothpaste. Microplastics have not been proven to be toxic yet as this is a fairly new discovery however toxic or not I don't want it in my body, I don't know about you?
So what do we do about our plastic problem?
Our problem with plastic is very complicated so a solution is not straight forward. The production of plastic has a very small impact on our environment compared to alternate solutions. One plastic bag has far less impact on the environment compared to say its cotton substitute. The production of 7100 plastic bags have the same environmental impact as one cotton bag. Plastic packaging for meat and other food stuffs is by far the most effective way to keep it fresh avoiding it having to thrown out.
The best we can try to do is to avoid using disposable plastics and educating friends and family on the causes of plastic waste and better ways to manage it through recycling. We also need our governments to assist with funding and improving infrastructures in the poorer countries so they are better at dealing with their plastic waste. This is a global problem so we need to look at it globally.
So I encourage you today to become more plastic wise. Think about where your plastic is going and be sure to recycle.