You've probably noticed through these last 29 days that one major key to living zero waste is to avoid plastic when possible. But why? What's so bad about plastic?
Plastic is not biodegradable.
All of these plastic items that make our lives so much more convenient will almost always end up clogging up a landfill or make its way into a body of water. Plastic is a synthetic material that was produced in a lab by man. Nature doesn't know what to do with it. Over time, the plastic will eventually photo-degrade causing it to break down into tiny pieces that causes even more environmental issues. There's just no good way to make it go away.
Most of your plastic isn't getting recycled.
All of that plastic you put curbside for pick up more than likely is getting pitched. You know those little numbers on the bottom of your plastic containers? 1s and 2s are usually the ones that get recycled, 3-7 will definitely end up in a landfill. The big majority of those plastics get sent overseas to be processed which causes an even bigger carbon footprint because of the transportation and processing pollution that is made as a result. 16 freighter ships will produce as much sulfur as the entire worlds' fleet of cars in a year! This makes recycling plastic even less environmental. Yes, those items will be given a new life once, but after that, their quality degrades destining them to, you guessed it, the landfill. What makes glass and metal any better? They have continuous recycling cycles meaning that once they are recycled once, they can be recycled again and again and again and again.... Wood, of course, can be composted. Plastic recycling was actually started by the beverage and packaging industry. This was out of fear of possible bans and regulations being put on their precious commodities given the massive amount of plastic waste entering the landfills at such a rapid rate. Sadly, plastic recycling hasn't slowed this down.
Plastic creation is extremely wasteful.
Producing a 16 oz. PET bottle generates more than 100 times the toxic emissions to air and water than making the same size bottle out of glass. That's not surprising considering plastic is made from oil or natural gas. That same 16 oz. bottle is 3/4 oil. You know, that precious substance that people have lost their lives over? That sounds responsible, right?
Plastic is damaging to our health.
Some plastics contain a substance called BPA or bisphenol-A. It's an endocrine disruptor that mimics female estrogen which in itself has been linked to cancerous tumors, birth defects, and developmental issues. Why would we want to risk manipulating our own chemical makeup by using plastic? I honestly don't trust the stuff. With the constant rise in these issues and illnesses in people, I question whether or not the overuse of plastic is somehow involved.
The longevity of plastic is shorter than its counterparts.
Plastic material was designed to last forever, yet the plastic items in our households seem to break, wear out, even melt sooner than wood or metal items. How many family heirlooms that you have are plastic? Probably not many. Their usefulness is short lived.
Please, don't think that I view all plastics equally as bad. I don't. They have been essential in our overall progression as a society. Plastic has made many things possible that never were before. I just feel that we've taken advantage of its cheapness and let our need to consume and our need for convenience turn plastics into a burden to us and our planet. It's not the answer to everything like marketing makes. We need to be more responsible and get ourselves out of this plastic dependency.
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