Plastic. We’re addicted to it
Look around you. Go on, we’ll wait. Regardless of where you are, it’s guaranteed that there are at least twenty products in your environment that are made from plastic. Why? Plastic has made modern life seem more convenient but our addiction to plastic, particularly single-use plastic products, is costing us our planet.
Just think. Plastic straws, grocery bags, disposable utensils, cigarette butts, water bottles, coffee lids, foam take-away containers – all meant to be used once and then discarded or hopefully recycled. This all sounds normal, right?
That straw in your iced coffee this morning and the plastic bag you used for take-out lunch today are two small plastic products that you think couldn’t harm a fly. Plus, you made sure to place them in garbage bins, so what’s the big deal? Well, if you add those two plastic products to the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that the world has produced over six decades, you begin to realize that this is not a simple matter of one straw or one ‘Lil plastic bag’.
While plastic has many valuable uses, our ever-growing consumption and addiction to plastic have forced manufacturers to exponentially increase their output, particularly of single-use products. Don’t believe us? From the 1950s to the 70s, only a small, manageable amount of plastic was produced. By the 1990s, the demand for plastic drastically increased and plastic production and waste more than tripled. In the early 2000s, our output of plastic waste rose more in one decade than it had in the past 40 years. Today, we produce approximately 300 million tons of plastic waste each year.
Our addiction to single-use plastics has come with a steep environmental price – one that may outlive us unless we start making different choices about using plastics. While many persons and companies have started the very important conversation about our burgeoning plastic use, many are still unaware that our plastic dependence is slowly but surely killing marine life, choking wildlife and severely affecting our health.
Are single-use plastics really that bad?
A recent study published in the journal Science Advances shows that the world has produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic over the past six decades. Of that number, 6.3 billion metric tons is plastic waste as we hurriedly move away from durable, sustainable products to single-use products under the guise of modernity and convenience. Only a mere nine per cent of this is recycled. The vast majority – 79 per cent ends up in our landfills, waterways and oceans – Earth’s life support and number one source for protein for over a billion people.
Plastic does not biodegrade. It simply breaks down into smaller pieces of – you guessed it – just more plastic. This is called microplastic and it is a huge problem for our environment.
Wildlife that eats plastics can thank us for punctured organs or fatal intestinal blockages. Marine life bears the tremendous strain of living in oceans chocked full of our plastic waste. Approximately 8 million pieces of plastic eek into our ocean daily. As such, beached whales have been discovered with stomachs full of plastic waste and recently, a team of scientists discovered a new species that was so polluted with plastic that they dubbed it ‘Eurythenes plasticus’ or simply ‘Plastic’.
Can this get any worse? Glad you asked.
Research shows that microplastics can be transferred from seafood and wildlife to humans when eaten. But should you think that not eating seafood or wildlife will save you from microplastic consumption, here’s a troubling fact. You are eating plastic dust each time you sit for a meal. A 2018 study published in Environmental Pollution revealed that you could be eating more than 100 tiny plastic particles with every meal. The scientists concluded that the average person swallows up to 68,415 potentially dangerous plastic fibres per year while eating.
Our constant exposure to microplastics may cause a host of illnesses and medical conditions like hormonal imbalances, infertility and cancer. BPA, a chemical that has been used in producing plastics since the 1960s can affect thyroid function, cause miscarriages, increase blood pressure, irritate your bowels and promote Alzheimer’s disease.
Microplastics have also been discovered in a majority of the world’s tap water. The five great lakes that provide 21 per cent of the world’s supply of surface freshwater houses approximately 22 million pounds of plastic, according to estimates calculated by the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Researchers are very concerned that if the current use-and-refuse trend continues, we will be drowning in approximately 12 billion metric tons of plastic by 2050 and our oceans could have more plastic than fish!
But take heart. Plastic waste can be reduced significantly
All of us can make simple, easy choices to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics, preventing the pile-up of trash that’s harming marine life, wildlife and humans. Here are some ways you can lessen your dependence and use of plastic in your daily life.
- Stop using plastic straws. If you need to use a straw, buy a reusable bamboo, stainless steel or glass straw. Take it with you when you dine out.
- Use a reusable grocery bag. Simply wash to keep them clean.
- Buy boxes instead of bottles. Environmentally-friendly brands often package their products in cardboard. Support these companies.
- Avoid purchasing frozen foods. The packaging is mostly plastic.
- Use reusable bottles for your beverages.
- Make fresh-squeezed juice or have fruits rather than buy fruit juice in plastic containers.
- Use razors with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.
Companies turning off the tap on single-use plastic
A growing number of conscientious consumers, like you, are demanding that companies reduce their use of throwaway plastic. Many companies like Volvo, Unilever and McDonald’s have pledged to ensure that plastic packaging used in manufacturing is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
At Sapphire Green Earth, we are also committed to offering not just safe products but those that are made ethically and in a sustainable way. We carry an exclusive line of natural, biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free everyday products, as an alternative to chemically-based toxic goods. From manufacturing to packaging, we are constantly working to bring you the most people, animal and earth-friendly products available.
Like you, we know that single-use plastic has done more harm than good to our environment, and as such we are pleased to offer a range of products, from the Meliora All-purpose home cleaner and laundry powder to the dish soap for hand washing, which are not only natural, biodegradable and eco-friendly, but packaged completely plastic-free. We also offer refills for many of our products and package-free options, where possible, to reduce our impact and help you lessen yours on the environment.
It can get better if we work together
The plastic we have accumulated is here to stay – for an extremely long time – but we can make things right for ourselves and the planet we call home by not adding more plastic waste to the existing pile. Let’s change our relationship with plastic. Recycle more of the plastic products you currently have, invest in plastic alternatives and reduce your sources of waste today.