One of the biggest environmental challenges we face today is our use and abuse of plastic. A material that has found itself being implemented somehow, some way, in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. From water bottles, to grocery bags, packaging and appliances; the list goes on and on and on. The only problem with plastic, is that is has a devastating effect on the environment and our health. For one, plastic takes hundreds of years to break down- sometimes more depending on the plastic. According to an article on Post Consumers, “Different kinds of plastic can degrade at different times, but the average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years. It can even take some bottles 1000 years to biodegrade! That’s a long time for even the smallest bottle. 90% of bottles aren’t even recycled. Makes you think twice about that water or soda, right? Bottles made with Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE) will never biodegrade.” Not to mention that the small portion of plastic that does reach recycling factories, give off more pollution than if you weren’t to recycle at all. Also, EnvironmentalHealthNews.Org tells us that “Next year, more than 300 million tons will be produced worldwide. The amount of plastic manufactured in the first ten years of this century will approach the total produced in the entire last century, according to the report.” Makes one wonder, where does all of this plastic go? Well, the answer is probably one you already know, but just like to forget about because it’s not immediately affecting you or your lifestyle. All this plastic is going into landfills, the oceans, and being littered everywhere in the world. There are trash/plastic islands that are floating around the oceans the size of Texas, killing most marine life it crosses paths with. Not to mention polluting the water along the way.
Which brings me to my next point, the chemicals used in making all plastics are usually very harmful if ingested or absorbed. Environmental Health News gives us a condensed list of the negative effects of this:
“Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.
• Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife.
• Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, disrupting habitats.
• Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater.
• Around 4 percent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics, and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process.”
One of the main components found in most plastic is BPA, or Bisphenol-A, an endocrine system disruptor. This leaks out of the plastic (say your water bottle) and enters your system, disrupting your endocrine system and causing hormonal changes which can cause illness and disease. ” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 93 percent of people had detectable levels of BPA in their urine” Environmental Health News also informs us. BPA is also lined in almost all canned foods. The process of manufacturing, using and recycling plastics releases so many chemicals into the environment and our bodies, and destroys our environment along the way. I personally feel very strongly about environmental issues such as these because we have nothing if we don’t have our earth. We need the earth, not the other way around. I go out of my way to use glass water bottles, or new plant-based plastics that health food stores are implementing for smoothies and other packaging necessities. They are coming up with all sorts of wonderful alternatives to plastic, it’s just a matter of implementing them.
Also, this is a bit of a side note but hemp is the most robust, natural durable fiber on the face of the earth. It can be used as fuel, clothes, cars, homes, PLASTIC, virtually anything. Hemp is the future. (Just for those of you who aren’t educated in this area, hemp has no THC (psychoactive) component and is not marijuana. It is a different species of cannabis plant, and is completely legal.