Image Source: Jayesh Patil/Flickr
When it comes to environmentally damaging materials, plastic is definitely a serious offender. Between bags, bottles, food containers and packaging, the waste really piles up. And with so many single-use plastic products now a part of everyday life, the damage they cause is ever-increasing.
What exactly is the problem with plastic, you ask? Well, for starters:
- Plastic production relies heavily on a number of unsustainable resources, such as petroleum and natural gas
- Plastic products can present health risks to consumers, due to the presence of harmful chemicals such as BPAs and phthalates
- It poses a serious threat to marine wildlife, as 45,000 tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year
- Due to the fact that only 7% of plastic is actually recycled, further problems result when it ends up in landfills
- Unable to biodegrade, plastic either leeches chemicals into the soil, or releases toxic chemical fumes when incinerated
The best thing that you can do for the environment is to reduce the amount of plastic you use in the first place. Carry your own shopping bags, invest in a reusable water bottle, and say no to straws. The next step is to make sure that you properly recycle the plastic that you do end up having to throw away. Recycling plastic is a great way to alleviate much of the environmental burden caused by plastic production. Each ton of recycled plastic saves over 16 barrels of oil, and requires approximately 60% less energy to produce than virgin plastic. It also creates fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and helps to significantly reduce the amount of plastic clogging landfills and contaminating oceans.
Recycled plastic is not perfect, however, as it still requires significant amounts of water and energy for production, when compared to other resources. There is also concern that the perception of plastic as being easily recyclable will further add to the problem, as consumers feel comfortable using more, but do not dispose of products in the correct manner. Despite these disadvantages, recycled plastic has great potential as an eco-friendly resource. It helps to address a massive pre-existing waste problem, is extremely versatile, and can be infinitely recycled. Instead of contributing to the contamination of oceans and the expansion of landfills, dispose of your plastics carefully, and allow them to be transformed into fantastic eco-friendly products like these!
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