If you look around your home, workplace, car, school or any shop or grocery store, you will see plastic literally everywhere!
It’s cheap, convenient, and lightweight. It holds liquids, is pretty much unbreakable, and can be molded into many shapes and sizes….
So what’s the problem with plastic? Why should we strive to become plastic free?
- Plastic lasts forever. It does not biodegrade.
- Plastic is made out of chemicals, which breakdown in the ground, in water, our bodies and in animals.
- Toxic chemicals are absorbed by plastic and become concentrated within the plastic pieces, making plastic highly toxic.
- Plastic gets eaten by animals on land and in the sea— often leading to their death.
Here are a few reasons to become plastic free! (Courtesy of Vox Feminista)
Plastic lasts forever!
Plastic is used as the container for so many products we buy and use every day. Plastic containers are much more common than glass containers because they are so lightweight and inexpensive to make. Since products are often shipped from somewhere else, the weight of the container is a big part of the cost of the product. In a world where there are multiple brands of most products and competition is high, the cheapest product often sells best.
When the product contained in plastic is a drink, a single packaged food item, a wrapper, or any other single-use item we could easily use it for just a few minutes before tossing it into the trash. A few minutes—as we pick it up on the shelf, buy it, use or consume the product, and finally toss the plastic into the trash!
When the product contained in plastic is a cosmetic, soap, shampoo, lotion, cleaning product or any other longer use item, the plastic container might stay around a month or two longer, but, in the end, it is usually tossed into the trash, too.
Of course, there are also harder grade plastics used for cars, computers, shoes, toys, and kitchen and other household items that we might use for a much longer time, but sooner or later they too will likely be worn out and thrown away.
And there is the big old plastic monster—plastic, single-use bags. We use plastic bags for our grocery bags, clothes bags, and other retail bags. We also use plastic bags for our veggies and fruits, bakery items, bulk items, and lunch snacks….we even have a very bad habit of using them to pick up after our dogs! Some of these bags we reuse a few times, but sooner or later there they go—into the trash!
The big, big, big problem with all of this is that plastic does not biodegrade, but only breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Plastic really does last forever!
Plastic cannot be remade into an organic state, and once created must stay as a synthetic substance for the rest of its life. As plastic breaks down, its chemical chain splits apart, resulting in microscopic plastic particles which can then more easily be ingested into plant, animal, and human food chains by mixing in with the soil, leeching into our food and water supplies, and contaminating oceans and their marine life.
The more plastic breaks down, the more lethal it is. It absorbs surrounding toxic chemicals like PCBs and DDT and then spreads these concentrated poisons beyond where the eye can see. Nothing is safe from plastic. We are forever changing the natural chemistry of our earth, poisoning ourselves and our oceans, by adding plastic as an ingredient.
Plastic is not “disposable”. We cannot dispose of it. Instead, it is taking over our earth’s chemistry and threatening many individuals’ and species’ chances of survival, including us humans. Isn’t this a good enough reason for each of us to strive to become more plastic free in our lifestyle?
What does it take to become plastic free, or at least reduce our use of plastics as much as we can?
It isn’t easy! Creating a lifestyle that uses less and less plastic means going against the norm of our culture. It means being creative in our use of reusable products.
Some numbers about plastic bags that will change your ways:
- Every minute, 1 million plastic bags are consumed worldwide. (EPA)
- Every 5 seconds, 60,000 plastic bags are used in the U.S. (Chris Jordan – photo documenter of our massive waste).
- Every day, 100 million plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfill. That’s enough, laid end to end, to reach China and back each day. (back2tap.com)
- In one year, 80 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide.
Some changes we can each make in our lives in order to beome more plastic free:
- Use reusable produce and bulk bags made out of hemp! (It’s our business but it’s also our lifestyle and our goal to become plastic free.)
- Buy bulk shampoo, lotions and soaps as much as possible – you can bring your own glass bottles to the store and reuse them again and again.
- Buy drinks that come in glass. Not only is this better for you, but it also is voting with your wallet for those items that are made of sustainable products that are plastic free.
- Buy bulk and fresh foods. These foods are not processed, so they are better for you anyway and are free of plastic residue.
- Buy used whenever possible. Not only does this save money, it cuts into the cultural norm of materialism.
- Bring your own “to go” glass containers – we also use them for leftovers when we eat out.