I think you know this by know. I am not a fan of plastic (or waste at all). On this blog you can read a lot about how I try to avoid plastic (and other waste too) in all sorts of ways. But I never really explained why I do this in the first place. So here it is: 8 reasons to ditch (especially single-use) plastic!
This is going to be a long post. There are so many reasons to avoid using plastic. Today I’ll share the most important arguments in the order of the supply chain of plastic. But! I do want to place a disclaimer here: not all plastic is bad. An example is medical plastic. I am often reminded to this when I donate blood. That plastic saves lives. I am not against that (obviously) and so I am not against all plastic. However, I am against most of is.
1 Plastic is Made out of Oil
And that fact has disadvantages. The first thing: oil is not renewable. One day we will run out of it. And that oil is not only needed for a single-use bag in the supermarket. Oil is also used for more important things. Machines or medical plastic to name some examples. How are we going to make a drip if we run out of oil? Also, the oil extraction proces itself is very dirty. That’s always the case. But sometimes it even goes wrong, leading to an oil spill. Entire areas are destroyed when this happens. This Dutch article by Amnesty explains an example of oil extraction in Nigeria.
2 It Takes a lot to Make Plastic
Oil is extracted, transported, made into plastic, transported again, made into a product, transported again. And this is the simple supply chain. It is a lot more complicated in details. We make all this effort to make a plastic bag to name a simple example. You then put your apples in this plastic bag, take it with you to your house and then throw away the plastic bag again. All this effort for an item we use once. It seems pointless to work for that. Can’t we use our energy better? To do things that really matter?
3 The Proces of Making Plastic is Polluting
This aligns with point 2. We make all this effort, but along with that comes pollution. We emit CO2 and pollute in the proces. And all that for the ‘convenience’ we think we gain from single-use products. However, it’s not convenient at all. We are destroying ourselves and planet for it. Climate change and pollution are the biggest issues of our time.
4 Plastic Does Not Degrade
It does not. Ever. Plastic breaks down into smaller piecer. So small that you eventually can’t see them anymore. Micro-plastics or nano-plastics. But this does not mean the plastic is gone, it’s still here. Just in a small form. And because it breaks down into small plastics it pollutes everything. Plastic is found everywhere. In our food, in animals and even in us. More and more plastic is produced every single day and so the problem gets bigger every single day. And when we burn the plastic it’s still not gone. It’s then gone into another form: air pollution. This is also why I’d always prefer paper over plastic. It is said that paper production emits more CO2 than plastic. That is true as if right now. But that proces can be improved by renewable energy and paper is a renewable resource. Plastic does not degrade and therefore the proces can’t be improved.
5 Plastic is Not Made Out of One Material
There are a lot of different sorts of plastics. A lot. With all different numbers and features. That alone makes recycling extremely hard. Most plastics can’t even be recycled at all. An example is black plastic. This can not be recycled and goes straight to landfill. And if companies do manage to recycle plastics, it always downcycles. A bottle will become a cup and then that cup will become a straw. And then it’s nothing, it can’t be made into something else. To make the exact same product again you need to add new oil. That’s one of the reasons why recycling is not the solution. The recycling proces itself also comes along with a lot of pollution (more about that later). Most plastics can’t be recycled. In The Netherlands we have a recycling guide. The first question is: is this plastic packaging or a product? If it’s a plastic product we can’t recycle it. That’s insane!
6 Plastic Does not Degrade and so it Ends up Everywhere
Plastic ends up everywhere on the planet. The best known example is the Plastic Soup. A place where plastic trash piles up because of the flow of the oceans. A lot of animals in oceans and on land choke on and eat plastics. This makes them die immediately or due to starvation in the long run. This means that lowering your plastic consumption is also a vegan thing to do. But don’t think this plastic only ends up in the environment because people intentionally throw it on the streets. It also ends up in nature unintentionally. From a garbage truck or full trash cans for example. The waste proces has a lot of flaws.
‘According to the UN 100.000 sea-mammals and 1 million sea-birds die each year because of trash in the sea’HetKanWel.Net
7 Plastic Harms Health
It’s not a coincidence that you are advised not to use a plastic bottle multiple times. The chemicals in plastic leak. The leak into that plastic bottle or into your food. It then enters your body. There is a lot of research done on this subject and it’s been shows very clearly that plastic is not healthy. It’s also been proved that micro-plastics attract toxic substances. Plastic is poison to your body. The less plastic you use, the better.
8 We Simple Do Not Need Plastic
We’re used to plastic now, but most of the time we don’t really need it. An example is your toothbrush. Every year a person throws 4 toothbrushes to landfill. We have 7 billion people on this planet, that’s a lot of toothbrushes. But switch to bamboo and you’re done. Nothing changes, we don’t need plastic, we can just compost the toothbrushes or recycle them. Plastic bag around your fruit? We don’t need it. Plastic cup for your coffee in the morning? We don’t need it. We can do so much better. We don’t need all those single-use products, we can replace them very easily with reusable alternatives. We’re stimulated to use single-use products because that gives companies more profit. They can make more products this way. If we use one product over and over again we don’t buy from them anymore. This plastic lobby is very powerful.
All in All
These are my main reasons to avoid plastic (and other waste too). I think you get my point by now. And I hope you see why we should work towards a circular economy.