Updated: Apr 6
I think it is safe to say we all understand the definition of the word.
When we hear the word pandemic we instantly think about the covid-19 situation, that our world is currently facing.
But, I want to bring light to the pandemic of plastic that our world is currently facing.
This all started in 1907 when Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland created “Bakelite”, the first real synthetic, mass-produced plastic. ” He could not have had any idea that it would now be eventually be used everywhere around the world!
So what is plastic?
Plastic is a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Because of their malleability properties, plastic can be moulded, extruded or pressed into solid objects of various shapes. This adaptability, plus a wide range of other properties, such as being light weight, durable flexible, and inexpensive to produce, has led to its widespread use and has revolutionised the health and safety industry.
Nowadays it is impossible for us to exist without the invention, because it is in so many day to day items. We use it to make bicycle helmets, child safety seats, airbags in cars, mobile phones, computers. In our houses we use it for piping, walls, flooring.
The medical profession has transformed the prosthetic industry and uses it for medical devices, not to mention how sanitation has change to due plastic items. So on one hand plastic is saving lives, helping control infection and disease and allowing us to live safely and conveniently. But, its durability comes at a cost, with its inability to bio degrade and environmental poisons.
Did you know?
That as of 2018, about 380 million tonnes of plastic is produced each year worldwide. .From the 1950s up to 2018, an estimated 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced worldwide.
And because plastic can last up to 1000 years longer than other forms of trash, we are living in a world filled with a substance that doesn’t have anywhere to go.
Excess Plastic is ending up in our oceans, overflowing our land fill, in our soil, our animals are consuming micro plastic and so are we from our tap water and the produce we consume. And although this pandemic does not pose an immediate threat like covid-19, it is evident that our wildlife and land are already suffering and it will be only a matter of time before we humans begin to suffer too.
So what’s the answer… Although, this answer is far from simple, I believe that collectively we can all start to make a change with three simple words.
Replace, Reuse, Recycle!
There are so many plastic items that we use daily. Single use water bottles, coffee lids, straws, plastic bags, cling film and and many others can all easily be replaced with alternatives.
We also need to be educated as to what items are made from plastic, because if we aren’t aware of what we are consuming, companies and brands will just keep producing new plastic.
For example many face washes use mirco plastic beads for exfoliants and 60% of our woven clothing fabric contains plastic. With an understanding of what items contain plastic, we are able to consume more wisely and support clothing brands that are sustainable and choose beauty products with natural exfoliants like salt or other alternatives and of course with sustainable packaging. We need to support our local takeaway shops that use recycled plastic or natural biodegradable bags and containers.
According to statistics, out of the estimated 6.3 billion tonnes, only 9% has been recycled and another 12% has been incinerated safely.
And this is just not enough to change the future of our environment Living in a privileged country we have a truck to pick up our trash weekly and it takes no extra time to place recyclable items in a different bin.
I truly believe if we all start to Reuse the plastic we have Replace plastic items with other alternatives and Recycle more, collectively we can start to make a change.