Plastic can make our lives incredibly easy. This material can be molded into virtually every shape, it is highly versatile, disposable, and won’t break if we drop it. There is a reason that plastic was considered a “wonder” material when it first became commercially popular in the mid-20th-century. But since this initial moment of wonder and convenience, the true inconvenience of disposable plastic products has come to light.
Today there are currently 270,000 tons of plastic floating on the surface of the ocean. Not only has this enormous mound of plastic trash created the unsightly monstrosity that is the Pacific Garbage Patch, but it also directly threatens over 700 marine species who are in danger of being suffocated or poisoned by marine debris.
There is no questioning that we have far more plastic on this planet than is good for either us or the many other creatures with whom we share the world – and yet, millions of plastic products continue to be made every single day.
To draw attention to our outrageous plastic addition, Czech artist Veronika Richterová has created a series of gorgeous sculptures made out of used water bottles. Naming her series, “A Tribute to PET Bottles,” Richterová’s creations are sure to shock and inspire you.
Richterová’s has collected thousands of plastic bottles over the past 11 years to create some of her magnificent sculptures. While these butterflies are beautiful, we must not forget that they symbolize plastic floating in the wind.
In the United States alone, over 1,500 plastic water bottles are consumed every second.
It would be wonderful if every one of these bottles became art, like these sculptures, but the reality is that 91 percent end up unrecycled in landfills.
If you fill a plastic bottle up one-fourth of the way with water, that’s how much petroleum was needed to create that bottle.
As plastic breaks down, it leaches petroleum-based chemicals and endocrine disrupting toxins into the environment.
A recent study from the U.S. Geological Survey found that fish exposed to plastic chemicals suffered reproductive abnormalities for up to three generations.
It can take hundreds of years for plastic to breakdown. When it does, it simply breaks into tiny particles that can be spread via wind channels.
Toxins from plastics are also harmful to humans.
Bisphenol-A, or BPA, is found in many common plastic goods. This particular chemical has been linked to infertility, cancers and even obesity.
Sadly, while we like to think that plastic simply “goes away” when we throw it in the trash, one way or another it comes back to haunt us. Too bad these ways aren’t as pretty as these flowers.
What You Can Do
Being conscious of your personal plastic use is the first step to reducing the amount of plastic waste on the planet. While it might seem insignificant for one person to change their habits, considering the fact that the average person uses around 200 plastic produce bags (not even the big plastic bags) a year, every little bit you do makes a difference.
Veronika Richterová sculptures are beautiful, but we can’t possibly turn every piece of plastic we throw out into something as magnificent.
To learn more about how you can cut plastic out of the picture, check out this post.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
All image source: Veronika Richterová