What’s The Problem With Plastic?
Plastic is an incredible material – it can be used to save lives, is lightweight & durable and it’s cheap to produce. The reason it’s now the biggest threat facing our oceans, and our own health, is what we’re using this plastic for. By taking a material which can last forever, and creating “throwaway” or single-use items, we’re creating a legacy of trash that will outlast us and many future generations. Here are some of the main issues with plastic:
Using Fossil Fuels
Most plastics are made from fossil fuels. Currently about 4-10% of global oil & gas goes to making plastic, and plastic production is increasing.
Up to 12.7 million tonnes is ending up in the ocean every year (this is the equivalent weight of around 250 elephants every hour). It can entangle animals or be eaten and cause injury or starvation.
Plastic in the environment never goes away, it just fragments into smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces have been found inside tiny creatures at the bottom of the deep sea and frozen into the Antarctic sea ice. We have no way to clean them out of the ocean.
Poisoning the Food Chain
Plastic is made with a range of chemicals, and also acts as a sponge for other pollutants while it floats around at sea. When it’s eaten by fish, coral, whales or seabirds it introduces those harmful chemicals into those animals and the food chain.
Impacting Human Health
The toxic chemicals used in plastic are now found in humans & have been linked to issues like cancer, endocrine disruption and birth defects.
So, what’s the solution? Better design. Creating a circular economy, in which products are designed to be re-used rather than thrown away. Avoiding single-use items, and the businesses who are producing them. Making changes in our own lives, and supporting companies, policies & governments who are making a positive difference.
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Thanks to Alice Forrest our Guest blogger and Plastic Free expert