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The problem with plastics


The problem with plastics

The word plastic originally meant “pliable and easily shaped” and it was only recently that the word was used for the polymer material we know it as today. The first synthetic plastic, which was made from completely man-made materials was created over 100 years ago and swiftly became the go-to for today’s day-to-day objects such as toys, crisp packets and drinks bottles.

Fact: It is estimated that the UK uses five million tonnes of plastic every year, with half of that being in the form of packaging.

Whilst it’s very evident that plastic is everywhere and it has become the ‘norm’ to see it used for so many items, there are risks associated with this and we need to do as much as we can to limit our plastic pollution.

Why plastics are bad

Although plastics are so diversible, the big problem with this material is that most of it is not biodegradable. Unlike food and paper, plastic does not rot and breakdown naturally; therefore, it stays in the environment for up to 500 years and risks releasing toxins into the ground. Shockingly, approximately 50% of plastics are made to be used for single-use disposable applications, including packaging, agricultural films and takeaway food containers and disposable razors.

A few things we can do

1. Take reusable carrier bags with you shopping
2. Reuse takeaway containers
3. Buy laundry detergent in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bottles
4. Ask your grocer to take back the plastic packaging from your food
5. Use a razor with replaceable blades
6. Use plastic-free toiletries
7. Give up plastic water bottles
8. Recycle as much as possible
9. Buy fresh bread rather than in plastic packaging
10. Have milk delivered by the milk-man in glass bottles

Trash Island

Have you heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Not many people are aware of this collection of litter, specifically plastic in the North Pacific Ocean. The patch covers 1.6 million square kilometers with a concentration of 10–100 kg per square kilometer and within that is 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic.

To be able to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it has been agreed that we need to be limiting or eliminating our use of disposable plastics as much as possible as well as increasing our use of biodegradable resources.