What’s the problem with plastics?

Plastic is a great invention but it comes with a serious downside. Plastic has made it convenient and easy to protect food, it has made it very cheap to create new things.

Nothing ever comes for free though. There’s a hidden cost that’s been piling up as we have found ever more inventive ways of using this material.  Plastic has infiltrated every part of our life – to a point where it has become a real challenge to avoid.

The problem with plastic is that it doesn’t break down. It stays around. It will eventually go into smaller pieces but it keeps being plastic – it doesn’t break down into natural elements. Instead the plastic break down into something tiny bits called nurdles or mermaid’s tears. It definitely is something worth shedding a tear for, as it causes problems everywhere it appears.

Small pieces turn up everywhere. Some pieces are so small they are eaten by tiny plankton in the sea. They then enter the food chain and concentrate on each step up the ladder. This can become deadly poisonous, because plastic absorb toxins such as PCB and heavy metals.  It then becomes dangerous for humans and animals further up the food chain.

If we don’t change our ways immediately, then there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. (In-depth explanation by the Ellen MacArthur foundation here).

But we can of course do it differently. We can start with bringing a drinks bottle everywhere instead of buying bottled water, saying goodbye to plastic bags, refusing plastic straws and single use items, getting food not wrapped in plastic, but there are also less visible plastic sources.

About 30% of all clothes worldwide are produced from polyester. Polyester is a plastic fibre that falls off when it’s worn and especially when washed. In a wash, so many fibres come out and enter waterways that it’s considerd one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the West.

Plastic Free July is the first step in realising how integrated plastic is in our lives. Try and investigate where your things come from and what they’re made of. Then find solutions.

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