Plastic is Everywhere, Here's Why it Shouldn't Be
You've probably seen the video of the turtle with a straw in its nose or the picture of a sea bird with plastic in its stomach.
That's because plastics are everywhere nowadays. They are in our clothing, our food, our packaging, our oceans, and even our air. In fact, every minute the equivalent of one garbage truck full of plastic is dumped into the ocean. The UN estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the ocean. Plastics never fully decompose. They break down into smaller and smaller pieces to become microplastics. These microplastics are now in our food supply and air.
Plastics can have a serious impact on human health. Many chemicals are added to plastics to provide them with certain qualities like flexibility or color, and these are susceptible to leaking out. Chemicals found in hard plastic containers, food packaging films, plastic toys, and shower curtains are recognized hormone disrupters and are suspected to cause reproductive and nervous system disorders, cancers, obesity, and diabetes. Vinyl chloride and styrene, which are used in food packaging, clothing, and toys, are suspected carcinogens. Heavy metals that are added to plastics and used as stabilizers and for color are linked to neurological disorders, including lowered IQ and behavioral issues, along with cancers. It is not safe to have these chemicals in items that we use every day.
Not only do plastics have detrimental impacts on our health, but they are also extremely harmful to our environment. Plastic is produced through a process called fracking and is made of natural gas, which pollutes the air and releases greenhouse gasses. Plastic production is harmful to our environment and health, from natural gas and oil extraction to transportation and disposal.
Many people believe that recycling is the answer to the plastic waste problem. However, only nine percent of all of the plastic ever created has been recycled, and only two percent is effectively recycled. Recycling is an extremely inefficient way to deal with this major issue. Another way that plastics are dealt with is by incineration. 12% of all plastics ever created have been incinerated. Burning the plastic releases toxic emissions including known carcinogens.
The best way to deal with the plastic crisis is to cut it off at the source. It can be difficult to know where to start. You can try to support more sustainable, small businesses rather than large corporations that use tons of plastic packaging, like Amazon and Coca-Cola. You can also support candidates that share your values and ideas and try to move towards a zero waste lifestyle.
Check out my next post to learn more about how you can limit your plastic use and transition to a zero waste lifestyle.