We are surrounded by plastic everywhere. In the past decade, plastic production increased significantly, which is why around half of the total plastic present in the world today was made in the last 15 years. Do you know why is plastic bad for the environment when it helps us on so many levels?
While plastic has helped in many advancements in this world, it is only good in the short run. In the long run, most of the plastic ends up in landfills, so it causes pollution and many other issues.
Why has plastic become a global problem?
Polymers make the base of plastic, which was first created in 1862. Before that time, most things were made using natural materials like cloth, wood, and metals. However, the advent of plastic brought a revolution that changed many lives. Making things was easier than ever with plastic, and there was no need to worry about keeping things.
Because plastic products are disposable, one can simply use them and throw them away in the garbage. It was not a problem back then but became a problem because of increasing plastic waste in landfills and oceans. Today everyone uses plastic in abundance. You can look around yourself, and most things will have plastic in one form or another.
Things get even worse when you think about your shopping routine and the drinks in plastic bottles. According to researchers, 300 million tons of waste every year only comes from plastic. The single-use plastic containers mainly contribute to these figures. Almost every part of the world uses plastic in one way or another, and that’s why it has not become a global problem.
9 Reasons why is plastic bad for the environment
There are tons of reasons that explain why is plastic bad for the environment. Here we have shortlisted the top 9 reasons. So, let’s explore why is plastic bad for the environment and how less plastic is fantastic.
1. Lightweight plastic products spread pollution quicker
All the waste produced by mankind on this planet either goes down the drain into the oceans, or we throw it in the landfills. The waste produced from natural things like food leftovers decomposes over time. However, things are different with plastic. Most plastic products are extremely lightweight. These mostly include single-use products, including the following:
- Shopping bags
- Water bottles
- Plastic containers, etc.
These can easily spread with water and air. So, the plastic spreads far distances whether we throw it in the ocean or the landfills.
2. Plastic waste is fatal for wildlife and marine life
While plastic makes our life so convenient in the shorter run, it is fatal for wildlife and marine life. Several cases report turtles, fishes, and other animals dying because of our plastic waste. Plastic is also eaten by different animals and birds who confuse it as their food.
When all these creatures eat plastic and cannot digest it, they either die or contain the toxins from plastic in their meat. When we eat that meat, those toxins are passed on to us.
3. Unlike other materials, plastic does not decompose quickly
Natural waste takes a few weeks or months to decompose, and the best example here is of composting. On the other hand, plastic waste can take from 20 to 500 years, depending on its type. Some common things from our daily life and the time they take to decompose naturally are listed below:
- A plastic bag takes 20 years
- A plastic straw takes 200 years
- A disposable plastic water bottle takes 450 years
- A plastic cup takes 450 years
- A toothbrush talks 500 years
As durable, it will last as waste for generations to see and suffer.
4. Some types of plastic add toxins to edible things
Most people do not know, but plastic containers have chemicals that can leach into your foods. Most of us have plastic containers for food, and if we heat food in a plastic container in the microwave, it can transfer toxic chemicals (BPA) into our food.
Although all chemicals and toxins are not equally harmful, some can cause serious health problems when exposed to a certain level. It is not only about microwaving as heating that plastic by any other means can do the same.
5. The planet now has a high carbon footprint because of plastic
Plastic harms the planet because it leaves a high carbon footprint. Things start from the production of plastic, but the real issue lies when plastic is made and consumed. When plastic is added to waste, it can stay there for 20-500 years. It increases the carbon footprint on the planet in several ways, including the following:
All of these are related to carbon dioxide, and they cause pollution in the environment on different levels.
6. The plastic production process harms the environment as well
One of the worst effects of plastic is that its production contributes to climate change. When plastic is made, petroleum products are consumed. Their consumption releases greenhouse gases into the environment. In fact, 8% of the total petroleum oil made worldwide is used for making plastic products.
Additionally, it takes 22 gallons of water to make only 1 pound of plastic, so it also uses a lot of water. Consider how much of the natural resources we will start saving if we stop making plastic.
7. Plastic is everywhere, and it seems like we cannot live without it
The best reason among many why is plastic bad for the environment is that we are addicted to using plastic. As the day begins, we brush our teeth with a plastic toothbrush. Then we eat our food in plastic containers and drink our beverages with plastic straws.
Most of the things we buy we get in plastic bags. Most of the appliances and utensils we use have a lot of plastic in them. Switching to natural products has become necessary, but it does not seem easy because plastic makes our lives extremely easy for the time being.
8. Single-use or Disposable plastic makes things even worse
Today most plastic products are marketed as reusable. However, the truth is that most of the plastic we use is single-use or disposable. You can take the example of the straws and shopping bags that we use in abundance.
1 Million disposable water bottles are sold worldwide every minute, and all of them add to the waste on the planet. Adding plastic bags, straws, and other things makes the situation even worse.
9. Plastic is bad for the plants as well
Plastics in the soil can change its chemistry. Plastic can bring chances of a higher evaporation rate, which makes the soil dry out quickly. Similarly, it can accumulate toxic substances which will replace the beneficial ones. Even biodegradable plastics are not good at all.
When plants do not get enough water and do not get the right minerals from the soil, they cannot function normally. Plants getting toxic chemicals from soil can also result in unhealthy yields. Thus, plastic also damages plants.
While these were the top 9 reasons plastic is bad for the environment, there are several other reasons to stop using plastic daily. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of comfort in using plastic, but it is not good for the environment at all. Additionally, our coming generations may suffer greatly because of our plastic usage.
Benefits of reducing plastic usage
Knowing the benefits of reducing plastic usage is essential to understanding why is plastic bad for the environment. So, here are the top 5 benefits of reducing plastic usage you need to know.
1. Less pollution and greenhouse gases production
When plastic is produced, many greenhouse gases are released into the air. The production will also be reduced with the low demand for plastic because of reduced usage. It will ultimately lessen greenhouse gas production along with pollution. Water and soil will also become purer this way.
2. Less waste on the planet with better management
One of the best benefits of reducing plastic usage is that there will be less waste on the planet. It is because most of the organic waste will decompose quicker. It means that there will be less waste on the planet which also means easier management and more recycling options.
3. Conservation of several natural resources
The production of plastic and its products uses petroleum products, water, and a lot of other natural resources. Reduced usage means less production requirement. Thus, we can save those resources.
4. Safer food means better health
With less plastic usage, we will not have to worry about BPA. Similarly, plastic waste will reduce, resulting in healthier plants and animals, which can become our healthy food.
5. Save money in different ways
Whenever you buy something that comes in plastic packing, you are paying for the packing as well. Buying things in bulk or skipping products with plastic packing will save money for you.
So, these 5 ways make the best benefits of reducing plastic usage.
12 Effective ways less plastic is fantastic
The following are the 12 most effective ways to reduce your plastic consumption.
1. Whenever you go shopping, use reusable bags
Whether we go for clothes shopping or grocery shopping, most places and even small businesses and shops give plastic bags for free. There have been changes in the past few years, but some places still use plastic bags. So, when you go shopping next time, take your reusable bag. Skipping 10 bags a day means 300 bags a month and 3650 bags a year.
2. Always double-check everything you are buying about single-use plastic
When you buy stuff, if single-use plastic is involved, you need to skip that thing. Rather, go for something from the new section or one that uses natural packing. Buying fruits and vegetables this way will help you significantly reduce your plastic footprint. Water bottles and food containers can also be easily switched.
3. Cook your food from scratch instead of going for packed products
You need to do the same with cooking products. Instead of using vegetables and spices that come in plastic containers, you can choose fresh ones. The same goes for meat and fish. Just look for the options where you can switch to non-plastic products. You will reduce plastic consumption and also enjoy tastier food.
4. Your beauty products may contribute to a lot of plastic waste; reduce them strategically
Every woman lives to use makeup, and those beauty products add a lot to plastic waste. The first thing you can change is the one you mostly throw away. These are wipes, blenders, polymer pads, and q-tips. Replace all of them with washable or natural products. Doing so makes a huge difference.
5. When buying clothes, go for natural materials
Today a lot of clothes have plastic in them in different ways. Fibers like lycra and polyester have plastic. So, when those clothes end up in waste, they add to the plastic contents. Next time you buy clothes, make sure to buy only natural fibers like cotton, wool, and linen.
6. Stop using plastic straws no matter what
Drinking right away from the glass of your drink will hurt nobody. You can drink this way or opt for plastic/metallic straws. Boycott straws because these cause most of the pollution on our planet. Straws and thin, and many aquatic animals die from eating these.
7. Go for bath bars instead of liquid options
Bath products in the liquid form mostly come in single-use plastic containers. Shampoo, shower gel, soap, and many similar things add a lot to plastic waste. You can switch to bars, and you will make a huge difference. Less plastic bottles for liquid stuff means less waste.
8. Use eco-friendly solutions when packing stuff
When packing to move or ship, people use bubble wraps. No doubt it keeps things safe from scratches and hits, but it isn’t good for the environment. Today, there are better alternatives available that are mainly made with paper. Use newspaper for wrapping stuff instead of plastic wrap. So, you can switch to those and reduce your plastic waste.
9. Use refillable goods to reduce plastic waste
Local shops offer refillable products. You must look for options and buy things in your reusable containers. Another thing you can do is buy things like cooking oil in bulk and then refill your small container with that every time you need it. You will significantly reduce your plastic waste this way.
10. Go for glass or metallic containers instead of plastic ones
Looking to buy containers or utensils for your kitchen? Consider buying glass ones or metallic ones. You may not find many features and options similar to the plastic ones. Still, it is necessary to make this switch to save the planet. Glass and metallic containers come with their perks regarding recyclability and durability.
11. Avoid beauty products with microbeads
Beauty products like facewash and such things have microbeads of plastic in them. When you use these products and wash them away, those beads ultimately end up in the oceans. The only way to end this problem is by skipping any product with those microbeads in it, as plenty of alternatives are available.
12. Go for natural chewing gums to stop plastic waste
Most of the chewing gums available today have plastics in them. So, do your research and try to buy as less as possible. If you have one, you must throw it away with plastic waste. However, the best option still is to go for organic and natural chewing gums.
Bring the change by spreading the good word
One can reduce plastic usage in their life, but it will not be enough. The whole planet must bring change because less plastic is fantastic. There is no better way to bring change by starting with yourself and inspire others. Wearing this Less Plastic is Fantastic t-shirt can do an amazing job of spreading the word.
You can wear it yourself and gift it to others as it helps the planet. The best part about this t-shirt is that you can buy it in 23 colors and sizes, from small to 5XL. Additionally, there are 12 different styles you can buy this shirt in. So, it will be a way to spread the word while staying in style.
Order Black T-shirt: Less plastic is FANTASTIC
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We have become so dependent on plastic in the past few decades that we cannot even imagine living without it. The habit of using disposable things seems to ease our life but using plastic comes with drastic effects in the long term for our planet and the life on it. We hope that now you know why is plastic bad for the environment and how you play your part in reducing plastic usage.
Reducing plastic waste and moving towards more natural options is the only way we can save our planet now.