Why exactly is plastic harmful?

Oil-based plastics are over a century old.  Their production increased significantly after World War II. The use of plastic improved things such as the medical sector, space travel, life-saving helmets, cars and more.

However, we are now learning of the havoc that plastic is creating and the impacts it has on our environment. There has been a dramatic increase in the production, particularly in the last 2 decades, which has overpowered our ability to deal with the environmental impacts. According to National Geographic, half of the world plastics have been made in the last 15 years.

Here is how fossil fuel-based plastics harm the earth.

Plastic was invented by mistake!

Plastic, one of the most useful inventions in the world, was in fact invented by accident!

Plastic had initially been made from natural materials till when Leo Hendrik Baekeland, in 1907, made the first synthetic plastic by mistake. His original goal to replace shellac with a cheaper material as shellac is very expensive. Instead of creating shellac-like material, he created plastic.

After World War I, the world realized the importance of petroleum and natural gas even more. This situation lead to worse consequences for the production of plastic and eventually for the environment. As a result fossil fuel-based plastic production saw its dramatic increase.

Why have plastics become so dangerous for our planet?

Plastics are low-cost and durable, and the level of plastic production is extremely high. Currently the world produces 300 million tonnes of plastic per year and 50% of all single-use plastics are thrown away after their usage. Consequently, it is not a surprise that the plastic pollution has reached nearly uncontrollable stage. 

So, the actual danger is not only plastic itself, but also the mismanaged plastic wastes. Only 9% of the world plastics can be recycled currently. This is because plastic is not biodegradable, and requires 400 years to disintegrate. 

How plastic pollution destroys the environment

Plastic waste is distributed all over the environment through so many variable factors. Those factors could be trade routes, coastline geography, wind, ocean currents, urban life and more.The worst part is plastic stays around in the environment for hundreds of yearss and threatens wildlife as well as  spreading toxins.

However, that is not all it. Plastics accelerate global warming and climate change. The report made in 2019 called “Plastic and Climate”, showed that 850 million tons of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere resulted by production and burning of plastic. It is also predicted that annual emissions will grow to 1.34 billion tons by 2030. By the year 2050, 56 billion tons, and by 2100, 260 billion tons of CO2 emissions have also been predicted.

Plastic waste damages oceans, land, the wildlife and humanity

Estimations showed that yearly around 12 million tons of plastic goes to oceans. If it continues at this rate, there would be more plastic than fishin the world by 2050. According to one study, there are approximately more than 5 trillion plastic pieces floating at sea which weighs as much as 270k tons. Plastic also changes the natural chemical structure of ocean water.

Plastic breaks down into micro-plastics which contain many toxic elements. Micro-plastic has been found in over 100 aquatic species such as fish, mussels, shrimps etc. which are an inseparable part of our eating habits. Animals unfortunately mistake the microplastics as food, ingesting large amounts of plastic in their diets According to National Geographic, almost every species of seabird eats plastics.

However, on land, it is even worse. The chemicals in plastic intoxicate groundwater which eventually harms animals and the human race too. As well as land-based animals such as zebras, lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes and other large mammals. Many are suffering from the impact of plastic on their body. 

Coming to humans, we are part of natural food circulation. Consumption of meat or fish from  polluted water could cause an increase in cancer, immune disorders, birth defects.

What can be done by us?

This crisis is the result of humanity, and we are many years away from solving the problem entirely. We humans are playing a key role in the process of decreasing plastics and its adverse consequences. Many little things can be done by us to slow down and eventually end the process of destruction. We should participate individually to:

  1. Choosing to forgo straws, avoiding single-use plastic items such as plastic bottles 

  2. Using reusable shopping bags over single use

  3. Eliminating the use of single use plastic cutlery

  4. Make your voice heard! If you think companies can be more careful about this situation, we as a whole can change their actions. We can choose more sustainable alternatives, which in the end will change the whole industry.

We should take responsibility to do our best to change the status quo.

How we at Kleiderly aim to help reduce plastic pollution?

The material we have developed is a great alternative to plastic. For more information, check out our website!

Sources:

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/plastic-bad-environment-why-ocean-pollution-how-much-single-use-facts-recycling-a8309311.html

https://www.marineinsight.com/environment/11-threats-to-marine-environment-you-must-know/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/plastic-pollution/

https://www.ciel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Plastic-and-Climate-FINAL-2019.pdf

https://www.eunomia.co.uk/reports-tools/plastics-in-the-marine-environment/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4262196/

https://www.marineinsight.com/environment/11-threats-to-marine-environment-you-must-know/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_pollution#Effects_on_the_environment

https://www.mnn.com/leaderboard/stories/10-accidental-inventions-that-changed-the-world

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