What’s So Bad About Plastic?

What is so wrong with plastic and why is there so much debate about this material in particular?

The Marvel of Plastic

Plastic has been around in some form since the turn of the last century. Considered a miracle material at the time. Easy and cheap to manufacture, waterproof, mouldable, corrosion-resistant, good electrical resistance, chemically inert and safe. It was quite literally, a revolution.
Medical products, clothing (Nylon & Polyester), toys, cars, computers, electrical products and packaging. Everything started to be made from plastic.
Then in the 1960’s, we started using plastic in vast quantities. Why? Well, as demand grew, manufacturing and processing costs started to decrease. And costs have continued falling, so far in fact that quite often we don’t attach any value to plastic packaging for example. Most of which, typically, is given away for free.

How Much Do We Use?

Plastic is now a trillion dollar industry. Over 300 million tonnes of plastic manufactured every year which is estimated to double over the next 20 years.

But, what is the problem with plastic?

Plastic as a material is an excellent choice for many applications. What it is not such a good choice for, is food. Why, well check out some of the reasons below. Next time you come across plastic wrapped food maybe you can make a better choice.
  1. Most plastic is with food is used only once – After that, it gets thrown in the trash. If you are lucky it will end up in a landfill where it will sit for hundreds of years decomposing slowly, leaking toxins and emitting carbon and methane. If you are not so lucky it may end up in the ocean along with the 100’s of millions of tonnes of other plastic garbage. This plastic either gets washed up on shore or breaks down in the oceans. This is then eaten by the wildlife who are getting sick or dying in vast numbers. Less than 15% of all plastic packaging is actually recycled.
  2. Plastic is Toxic – Yep, it is making you sick. All plastics contain chemicals which are necessary during the manufacturing process. These chemicals have been proven to be toxic to humans. Not only are we using these plastics to wrap our foods but we are also eating it. There is so much plastic trash in the oceans now that fish have started to eat the plastic. We, in turn, eat the fish.

What to do?

How to avoid plastic ending up in your food is becoming more and more challenging. I would guess that today it is probably impossible to completely eliminate plastic from your diet. However, there are many ways in which you can reduce your exposure. Check out the great infographic from Cafe Quill below. Also, check out this great article on how we used to live BP (Before Plastic).

I wish you well, your health and the lives of millions of animals, depends on our ability to take control of our plastic use.

Dont’ forget to check out our free Sustainable Lifestyle Toolkit.