Plastic is a no-good material. Yet its use facilitated the industrial progress of the whole world. First, it is versatile. We use it to make everything from parachutes to water bottles. Second, it is durable and convenient. Above all, it is everything but sustainable.
Proponents have predicted a cleaner and brighter world with plastic than before it was manufactured. But they couldn’t be more wrong. It is one of the worst things to be invented, with regards to our planet. It is a 400-million-ton-or-so industry. About 4 in 10 plastics are disposable. Most of these come from convenient packaging that we easily throw shortly after purchase.
Since the 1950s, we use and discard plastic with nary a second thought. We use it everywhere. Then spread it anywhere. We drown in our overconsumption of this artificial material.
First, this all started with a lofty goal. In the 1880s, John Wessley Hyatt invented the first plastic material “celluloid” to respond to a call for an alternative to elephant ivory. Celluloid came from cellulose, a plant-based polymer. In fact, Hyatt boasted that his invention would eliminate the need to need to plunder the Earth for scarce resources. If he could have traveled forward in time, he would have been disgusted.
Plastic became dangerous when it shifted from natural materials to oil-based. This cheapened the production process since petroleum back in the day was cheap. Chemists use oil waste gases to produce seven types of plastics.
Plastic pollution has grown exponentially to the point of endangering the whole planetary ecosystem. It is also a problem that everyone from consumers to governments should concern themselves. When you look at how plastic affects the world, you will see its “no-goodness”. Then find how you can ditch the plastic.
1 13 Reasons Why You Should Ditch The Plastic
1.1 1. Plastic lasts forever.
1.2 2. It turns fertile land into toxic wastelands.
1.3 3. Wildlife death
1.4 4. It slowly kills us humans.
1.5 5. It harms curious children.
1.6 6. It taints and endangers our waters.
1.7 7. They are fire hazards.
1.8 8. Recycling doesn’t help things.
1.9 9. It causes severe water disasters.
1.10 10. Most recyclable plastics are simply incinerated.
1.11 11. Or goes to landfill.
1.12 12. Plastic comes from fossil fuels.
1.13 13. Plastic is just a byproduct of innovation.
13 Reasons Why You Should Ditch The Plastic
1. Plastic lasts forever.
This artificial material is so durable. But this durability is a double-edged sword. It is such a long-lasting product that many scientists hypothesize that this will be the fossil of the modern world. Rather, it breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics. This process happens over a long range of time. Through this time, its chemical components pollute the environment and human lifestyle systems.
2. It turns fertile land into toxic wastelands.
Even after disposal, it leeches toxic substances into the soil and water. In fact, a third of all plastic waste ends up this way. These wastes intoxicate significant fertile land. Rather than being usable, agricultural land become toxic wastelands that yield no fruits. In China and Australia, for instance, thousands of acres of land have been classified as polluted and contaminated beyond repair. The contamination comes from disease-carrying microplastics.
The situation worsens when it rains. First, landfills bring down hazardous chemicals deeper into the ground, even into the underground water systems. Then they mix with the soil and water that they create harmful byproducts such as Bisphenol A and BPA. And they carry themselves back into human lifestyle through tap water. Double whammy for bottled water companies since they mostly source from municipal waters.
3. Wildlife death
Day after day, we see news about dead whales, birds, turtles and other animals. Sure, animal death is nothing new. It’s been happening since before humans came into the world. But the alarm comes from the nature of the deaths. Animals die more from plastic pollution than from direct human contact. They die from the toxicity of plastics thrown onto the ground and waterways.
Animals in all habitats, from fishes in oceans to cows in land, get harmed by plastic pollution. Over 700 species, including endangered ones, suffer from living with it. Some choke or asphyxiate over over abandoned nets, rings, or bottle caps. Others mistake plastics for food. And after that, get poisoned from such intake. For instance, floating plastic shopping bags are so similar to jellyfish that marine animals do not hesitate to eat them.
In news about dead animals washing up ashore, the stomach of these poor animals always filled up with so much plastic. Whales starved from tons of bags worth of plastic waste eaten at sea. Even mere contact with plastic leads to deteriorated biological functions of animals. This is some food for thought for us since humans are biologically animals, too.
4. It slowly kills us humans.
Plastic is made with chemicals such as phthalates and BPA to make up its durable structure. But they are carcinogenic and upsetting to human biological systems. These chemicals interfere with the endocrine system. They upset thyroid hormones. Both new and recycled plastic affect human users negatively. First, they lower testosterone levels in men. Second, women enter into premature girl puberty. This phenomenon destroys the reproductive system of young girls and women.
5. It harms curious children.
Most plastics are handy products. They are also very colorful. This makes them prime material for children’s toys. However, this is dangerous for children playing with them. Small plastics can be swallowed. These choke or asphyxiate curious children. The aforementioned toxic effects of plastic are exacerbated in children. Simply put, plastic harms children more because the little ones have weak and still developing body systems.
6. It taints and endangers our waters.
We are now at the cusp of an “Ocean Armageddon”. This term comes from environmental experts and policymakers. Foremost of which is the head of the United Nations Environment Programme. They refer to an alarming problem relating to plastic pollution. Marine pollution accounts for the largest amount of waste pollution on Earth. Scientists even estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Tons of plastic enter the ocean in various ways every day. We threw them offboats and ships. We flush them down the drains and toilet bowls. Or therecycling company simply scatters them away due to improper waste management. Whateverthe way we throw plastic away, these products contribute to marine pollution.
We live in an era where our planet is three-fourths full of soup. No, not the sumptuous soups at dinners. I’m talking here about plastic soups. These are oceans and bodies of waters full of plastic waste. They accumulate waste brought by sea currents to specific circles.
In fact, there is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is located northeast of Hawaii, about 1000 miles from Hawaii and California. This plastic-filled area is trapped by one of the five major subtropical gyres (systems of ocean currents) that corrals and carries marine garbage into its vortex. Some estimate the Patch to be twice the size of the American continent. But it grows and shifts with changing ocean conditions.
Worse, cleaning up these plastic soups is an arduous complex process. It involves a lot of time and community efforts. And a hella lot of interstate or international co-working agreements for it to be efficient.
7. They are fire hazards.
Plastics generally melt at a low temperature. This trait makes them fragile. They also cannot protect things in a barrier such as those needed for furnaces. Then at high pressure, they deform. Despite their durability, they are vulnerable to flames. They combust and release toxic fumer when burned. Worse, the highly flammable plastics are polystyrene, acrylics, polyethylene and nylons. These plastics make up most packaging, home and office appliances. This makes almost everything we routinely use fire hazards.
8. Recycling doesn’t help things.
Our current waste management systems cannot keep up with the growth of plastic pollution. Even if the recycling industry employs thousands worldwide, plastic waste management is still not effective. Worse, it does not negate the carbon footprint of the plastic production. Rather, it adds to its wasteful manufacturing schemes.
The recycling industry is a loudly touted but darkly controversial part of environmental advocacy. Processing waste, particularly plastic, creates poisonous fumes and carbon emissions. When plastic wastes melt down, they release VOCs (volatile organic compounds). They pose health risks to flora, fauna and humans who live near recycling processes. Worse, people who buy food with recycled plastic packaging are doubly at risk from toxic chemicals.
Then the resulting new products are mostly downcycled material. Worse, even recyclable products are not valuable all the time. Recycled plastic rarely go back into the manufacturing scheme successfully. Economists concurred that plastic is not valuable enough to make recycling work. Only a few plastic types are recyclable. Others cannot due to being composed of a mixture of polymers and chemicals.
Single-use plastics also fail in recycling. They are mostly too small or toothin to be valuable for recycling companies. They are also prone tocontamination due to waste mismanagement. Most plastic packaging come from foodproducts. So when people throw away wrappers after eating what’s inside, foodresidue dilutes the value of that plastic material. It also contaminates therest of the recyclable materials in the blue bin with harmful bacteria.
Second, plastic is often mistaken for green purchases. Some manufacturers produce “biodegradable plastics”. But this is too misleading to allow. Most biodegradable plastics do not biodegrade rapidly enough to avoid over accumulation. Worse, they confuse consumers and recycling workers alike due to their similar appearance to ordinary plastics.
So don’t be fooled into buying more stuff with the thought of recycling. Plastic is ideally recyclable but is not sustainable in reproduction. Ultimately, funding a solid waste management system is cheaper than subsidizing plastic collection and recycling.
9. It causes severe water disasters.
With climate change comes the uncontrollable and increasingly unpredictable weather systems. Hurricanes, storms and tornadoes burst into unsuspecting communities. Oceans rapidly inch over coastal towns and islands to soon engulf them into oblivion. And for urban areas, marine waste pollution kills millions from severe flooding. Floods usually begin with downpours from rain and storms. But they are exacerbated by clogged sewage systems.
People find it easy to just throw plastics over canals, drains, toilets, and waterways. These waste block cities drainage systems. The more waste there is in those areas, the higher the risk of high, long-lasting flooding. In fact, fatal Bangladeshi floods were caused by blockages in drainage systems from plastic shopping bags.
10. Most recyclable plastics are simply incinerated.
Most people do not recycle their plastic waste. Instead, they burn them together with fallen leaves in their backyards. Aside from individuals, businesses and recycling centers burn plastic. This mostly happens to contaminated or misrouted materials.
11. Or goes to landfill.
Each year, about 25 million dollars is spent in the state of California to dispose of plastic waste in landfills. This number potentially doubles or triples as China and South East Asia closes its shores from Western trash exports. Landfilling causes the brunt of terrestrial plastic pollution.
12. Plastic comes from fossil fuels.
Plastic production is not sustainable. Since the 2000s, it is the lifeline for the toxic fossil fuel industry. What makes the production process more toxic is the fact that they exist under heavily-exploited poor communities. Residents there suffer the most from pollutants in the factories and plants of plastics.
13. Plastic is just a byproduct of innovation.
Plastic should not be be all, end all of materials in the world economy. We have done well before plastic. We can create something better. Redesigning products would also show that companies and businesses can evolve to changing consumer needs.
There was paper. Then came wood. And hopefully, we will soon move on and ditch the plastic.
Why is going zero waste bad? ›
Many alternatives to plastic exist but they are in very low demand and costly to produce. For all types of waste, their Zero Waste alternative isn't cheap. The reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning or discharging into the nearby environment cost a lot of labor, time, and money.Why is plastic not good for health and environment? ›
Toxic Chemicals in Plastic
These include endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are linked to infertility, obesity, diabetes, prostate or breast cancer, among others. Other health conditions linked to additives include reproductive, growth, and cognitive impairment and neurodevelopment disorders.
About 75% of global plastics produced are thermoplastics that can be melted and molded over and over to produce new plastics, which – in theory – makes all thermoplastics recyclable. The remaining 25% of plastics are thermoset plastics that do not soften when exposed to heat, making them near-impossible to recycle.Is zero waste really zero waste? ›
Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.Does zero waste actually help? ›
Zero waste conserves resources and minimizes pollution.
Once they're used, the goods are simply dumped in a landfill or destroyed in an incinerator. In contrast, a zero waste approach conserves natural resources and reduces pollution from extraction, manufacturing and disposal.
- Kills Ocean Life. By now you've probably heard about the mass amounts of plastic polluting oceans and other waterways. ...
- Kills Terrestrial Wildlife. Plastic also harms the environment by killing land animals. ...
- Takes Up Space. ...
- Produces Chemical Pollution. ...
- Creates Microplastics.
Over decades or even centuries, much of that littered and landfilled plastic breaks down into tiny particles known as microplastics, which contaminate our food, the air, and water. They also accumulate in our bodies, potentially increasing our risk of chronic inflammation and other ills.What are dangers of plastic? ›
The harmful chemicals released from plastic products throughout their entire life cycle can pose a serious risk to humans and the environment, including when waste is not properly managed, finding its way to air, water and soils.What is the biggest problem with recycling plastic? ›
Waste management experts say the problem with plastic is that it is expensive to collect and sort. There are now thousands of different types of plastic, and none of them can be melted down together. Plastic also degrades after one or two uses. Greenpeace found the more plastic is reused the more toxic it becomes.What are the advantage and disadvantage of using plastic in your everyday life? ›
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using plastic? The benefits of plastics: the production criteria are durable, low cost, water-resistant, lower energy and heavy chemicals and are lightweight. Disadvantages of using plastics are, they pollute our environment. They pose a danger to wildlife.
Why are we not allowed to use plastics? ›
Plastic waste poses a big threat to the environment as it remains in the environment for long durations of time and does not decay, eventually turning into microplastics, which first enter our food sources and then the human body.Do zero waste people use condoms? ›
Truthfully, there is no Zero Waste way to have sex without foregoing a condom or protection altogether. All methods of contraception produce waste of some sort.Which country has zero waste lifestyle? ›
- South Korea.
Sweden's recycling system is so efficient that the country has virtually run out of rubbish, the Independent reported. The Scandinavian nation has imported rubbish from other countries for several years to keep its recycling plants running.What is the zero waste management Is it good or bad Why? ›
Zero waste refers to waste prevention as opposed to end-of-pipe waste management. It is a “whole systems” approach that aims for a massive change in the way materials flow through society, resulting in no waste. Zero waste encompasses more than eliminating waste through reducing, reusing, and recycling.What are 3 benefits of zero waste lifestyle? ›
The Benefits of a Zero-Waste Community
Saving money that can be reinvested into your community. Improving social cohesion. Creating jobs and improving the local economy.
Zero waste systems do not only promote climate resilience but support economic stability and equity as well. Zero waste has been shown to support SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), by creating up to 200 times as many jobs as disposal systems like landfilling and incineration.Can you live a zero waste life? ›
A truly zero waste lifestyle is almost impossible to maintain, but every little effort counts to make our world a bit more sustainable. Reducing waste or living plastic free can be overwhelming at first, but small steps will help build a habit.What are 10 facts about plastic? ›
- Plastic was invented in 1907. ...
- Plastic is made from fossil fuels. ...
- Scientists are trying to invent plastic made from natural materials. ...
- Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down. ...
- More than 40 percent of plastic is used just once before it is thrown away.
- Only 9% of all plastic produced is recycled.
- A whopping 2 million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide.
- Single-use plastics are illegal in some parts of the world.
- Every minute of every day a truckload of plastic is dumped into the ocean.
- 73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic.
What are 5 causes of plastic pollution? ›
- Plastic is cheap, readily available, and its use is widespread. ...
- The world's population is growing — and so is urbanisation. ...
- We have a disposable mentality when it comes to plastic. ...
- Plastic takes over 400 years to decompose. ...
- Marine shipping and fishing industries.
The most visible impacts of plastic debris are the ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. Marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fish and turtles mistake plastic waste for prey; most then die of starvation as their stomachs become filled with plastic.Is plastic a real threat? ›
Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year, from birds to fish to other marine organisms. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics. Nearly every species of seabird eats plastics. Most of the deaths to animals are caused by entanglement or starvation.How long does it take plastic to decompose? ›
That is not to say that plastics can't breakdown, they do, but it takes a long time; plastic bottles take up to 450 years to decompose in landﬁll.What causes the most plastic waste? ›
The majority of plastic pollution in the ocean is caused by littering: we buy or use disposable plastic items (food wrappings, plastic bags, razors, bottles, etc.) and do not dispose of them properly, which cause them to end up in the waterways and eventually in the ocean.What are the 10 disadvantages of plastic? ›
- Typically, plastics are created from non-renewable resources. ...
- The pollution in the world's waters is predominantly plastic. ...
- Multiple economic costs could result from plastic pollution. ...
- Unable to infinitely recycle plastic products. ...
- In order to recycle goods, we must use energy to clean plastic.
- Natural decomposition of plastic can last from 400-1000 years and few types of plastics are non-degradable as well.
- Plastic materials clog waterways, oceans, seas, lakes etc. ...
- Many animals eat plastic materials and die. ...
- Plastic is widely used in packaging.
Disadvantages of plastic are:
This can cause harm to the environment. The recycling process for plastic can be very expensive. Heavy use of plastic increases the pollution in the environment. Since most of the waste lands up in the oceans, it is quite harmful to aquatic life as well.
They Pollute the Land and Water
They lay in parks, forests, yards and float down waterways. Plastic bags are so lightweight that they can travel for miles in the wind. Often, they end up in the ocean, where they begin to pile up and cause water pollution.
Reasons to Ban Plastic Bags
Plastic bags have become a threat to the life of animals living on earth as well as in water. Chemicals released by waste plastic bags enter the soil and make it infertile. Plastic bags are having a negative impact on human health. Plastic bags lead to the drainage problem.
Do humans need plastic? ›
Plastics are in products we use every day that help keep us safe. They are in bicycle helmets, child safety seats, and automotive airbags that protect us and the cell phones that connect us. Plastics also help keep the foods we eat and serve to our families safer and fresher than ever before.Why do they sell condoms in toilets? ›
A condom machine is a vending machine for the sale of condoms. Condom machines are often placed in public toilets, subway stations, railway stations and airports as a public health measure to promote safe sex.Should I throw condoms in the toilet? ›
Bad for your plumbing and sewerage system.
Flushed condoms can build up in your toilet system, which can ultimately clog the pipes and cause a buildup of other materials.
In China, they're recycling condoms into rubber bands – Foreign Policy.What is the most wasteful country in the world? ›
As a nation, Americans generate more waste than any other nation in the world with 4.5 pounds (2.0 kg) of municipal solid waste (MSW) per person per day, fifty five percent of which is contributed as residential garbage.What country uses the most plastic? ›
1. China. Given that it's home to over 1.4 billion people – or over a sixth of the global population – it's only logical that China would be the biggest producer of plastic pollution in the world.Which country uses the least plastic? ›
Rwanda. Rwanda became the world's first 'plastic-free' nation in 2009, 10 years after it introduced a ban on all plastic bags and plastic packaging.What is the most waste in the world? ›
Food is the most common form of waste, accounting for almost 50 percent of global MSW. Millions of tons of food is wasted every year, especially fruit and vegetables.What does Japan do with their garbage? ›
Major disposal methods for waste in Japan include incineration, recycling, landfill and backfilling.What country is it illegal to waste food? ›
The French not only appreciate food, they're committed to not wasting it. In fact, it's the law.
What are the pros and cons of zero waste? ›
|helps environment||not convenient|
|saves money overall||can feel overwhelming|
|increases creativity||time consuming|
|increases self-sufficiency||takes extra discipline|
Drawbacks of composting by-products are cost for site preparation and equipment, the lengthy treatment period, targeting final use of compost product, and environmental issues such as odors and dust. Some investment in equipment and site preparation is required or recommended.Why waste management is bad? ›
These practices create serious health, safety, and environmental consequences. Poorly managed waste serves as a breeding ground for disease vectors, contributes to global climate change through methane generation, and can even promote urban violence.Is it possible to live in a zero waste society? ›
While it's impossible to create zero waste, there are many ways to reduce consumption that can benefit the planet. People in the movement prioritize recycling and reusing products and goods rather than purchasing single-use items that clog up landfills and contribute to climate change and global warming.How does zero waste affect climate change? ›
Zero Waste reduces carbon pollution in three critical ways: saving energy, reducing methane emissions from landfills, and pulling carbon out of the atmosphere by applying finished compost to our soils.Do mosquitoes like compost? ›
Harris County Mosquito Control reports compost piles should not be a breeding ground for mosquitoes if the pile is done right. This includes proper construction and turning of organic matter in the pile. If the pile floods for some reason, you may see mosquitoes in about a week, according to a department spokesperson.What would happen if everyone composted? ›
Statistics on compost and wastes
7.8 million If everyone in the United States composted, it would be equivalent to removing 7.8 million cars from the road. 2.5 timesSoil with compost added to it can hold 2.5 times more water than traditional soil, reducing the amount of water that needs to be applied.
According to a 2014 study, only 28% of Americans compost their food waste. Part of the problem is lack of access. Although most people who own homes with backyards can easily set up an outdoor composter, people who live in apartments and/or renters may not be able to do so.What are the 6 negative effects of improper waste management? ›
- Soil Contamination. ...
- Water Contamination. ...
- Extreme Weather Caused By Climate Change. ...
- Air Contamination. ...
- Harm Towards Animal and Marine Life. ...
- Human Damage.
Poor waste management - ranging from non-existing collection systems to ineffective disposal -causes air pollution, water and soil contamination. Open and unsanitary landfills contribute to contamination of drinking water and can cause infection and transmit diseases.