The title is bold. It’s also a scary outcome. Today we are looking into the effects plastic is having on our planet, our animals and our friends and family.
We’re already fighting the good fight!
At Hydrate Bottles, a big part of our drive is to rid the world of ‘one use’ products. Naturally, plastic water bottles are included in our plight and you know where you can find the perfect alternative!
Why do we use plastic?
It’s cheap, sterile and convenient. As plastic made its way to full popularity over the last century or so, the problems associated with mass usage have become clearly visible.
And those problems are….?
Saturation of our environment, harming animals and the ability plastic has of finding its way into our bodies. To name a few.
What exactly is plastic made from?
Long repeating molecule groups known as polymers. You may have to dig deep into your high school biology lessons here but we will break it down for you here. Polymers actually exist in nature such as cell walls, silk, hair, DNA and more. As with many things in this world, polymers can also be man made. Synthetic polymers are the product of rearranging crude oil components. You should already be able to see the vast difference between a natural style of plastic and one that’s potentially enhanced by chemicals?
Is synthetic plastic cheaper to produce?
Absolutely. It’s also lightweight and extremely durable meaning it can be moulded into any shape. Synthetic plastic can be produced in vast amounts, with little effort and small costs.
Once upon a time, plastic was a revolutionary material;
That’s right, plastic was originally used for mechanical parts, PVC for plumbing, electric gears and cases.
Chapter 2019 however offers a twist in the plot;
Today, almost everything that isn’t fully plastic is part plastic. Clothes, phones, computers, furniture, appliances, houses and cars are just a few examples. We go one step further however with coffee cups, plastic bags, straws and more. And what do we do once we’ve drank a coffee? It goes straight in the bin.
Plastic appears then goes away. Doesn’t it….?
Unfortunately not, no. Plastics that aren’t able to be recycled can take anywhere between 500 and 1,000 years to break down. And this is the material we have chosen to create throw away items. 40% of plastics are used for packaging – it’s a scary statistic. All hail Morrisons, who have brought in the brown paper carrier bag.
So how much plastic do we throw away?
Are you ready for these stats? In the United Kingdom alone, 275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year. On average, a family will throw away 40kg of plastic per year that could be recycled. Since 1907, it is suggested that 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic are waste. With the use of plastic in Europe increasing by 4% year on year, something needs to be done.
Where does plastic waste go?
It’s extremely sad to think that just a small portion of the 6.3 billion metric tonnes has been recycled. Whilst some has been burned, the remainder is right here, on our planet, causing more harm than good. Potentially 8 million tonnes per year ends up in the ocean. The effects on marine life is astonishing and as of yet, not looking set to slow. In 2015, 90% of seabirds had ingested some form of plastic.
In 2018, a sperm whale washed up in Spain. The whale had consumed 32 kilos of plastic bags, nets and a drum. This is a pure tragedy and should not be occurring, least of all in 2019.
The Part Played by Micro Plastics
Micro plastics are pieces smaller than five millimetres, often used in cosmetics or toothpaste. Most however, result from floating waste that’s continuously exposed to UV rays before crumbling into smaller pieces. These tiny pieces are easy to swallow when mistaken for food by marine life. Animals are being harmed by chemicals added to plastic and this is raising huge concerns among scientists.
Micro plastics impact human life also
It’s not something you hear a great deal about but there is evidence that transparent, plastic water bottles, when made from a specific chemical combination can interfere with our hormonal system. Worst case, certain elements may cause cancer.
Think about this…..
If micro plastics are toxic and under the sea plankton eats these, what would happen next? Small fish will feed on the plankton. Oysters, crabs and predatory fish then take their turns as each meal works its way up the food chain. Many of these marine creatures do in fact end up on our plate. Are we therefore at risk?
Where have micro plastics been found?
In honey, in sea salt, beer, household dust and more. This needs to stop and at the very least be DRAMATICALLY reduced.
So let’s just ban plastics, yes?
Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. Plastic pollution is not the only environmental challenge we face. Some of the substitutes we’d use for plastic have a higher ecological impact in other ways, making this is a difficult challenge to face.
Here’s an example:
According to a recent study by the Danish government, making a single-use plastic bag requires so little energy and produces far lower carbon dioxide emissions compared to a reusable cotton bag that you would need to use your cotton bags 7,100 times before it would have a smaller impact on the environment than the plastic bag.
So how can we begin to solve the plastic problem?
Let’s use the above example as a starting point. If the masses switched from using plastic bags to cotton or paper, the problem becomes less overall. If we switch from plastic straws to stainless steel straws (again, in the masses), we are helping to decrease the levels of waste that ends in the ocean. Reduction begins with a single person and ends with the majority. We know it can be done, especially with the advancements in technology such as social media. If a forever use water bottle is seen as popular, everyone will want one.
And on a wider scale;
Politicians in Europe and the USA need to address this issue and invest in infrastructure for developing countries. This is just as important as the work we can do together by investing in prolonged use items.
If plastic pollution is not addressed from a global -perspective, it will never be solved. Starting from just us, we can make a difference and this will cause politicians to be forced to stand up and take notice of what’s happening. They will have to make the change. Your actions have an impact. What you do matters. Refuse disposable plastics. Convince your friends and family to do the same. Pressure companies and politicians to take the necessary steps to keep our oceans clean and our food safe. We are.
Together, we can beat plastic pollution.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”