I think you know this by know. I am not a fan of plastics (or waste at all). On this blog you can read a lot about how I try to avoid plastics (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) plastics!
This is going to be a long post. There are so many reasons to avoid using plastics. Today I’ll share the most important arguments in the order of the supply chain of plastics. But! I do want to place a disclaimer here: not all plastics are bad. An example is medical plastics. I am often reminded to this when I donate blood. Those plastics save lives. I am not against that (obviously) and so I am not against all plastics. However, I am against most of is. Here are 8 reasons to ditch plastics.
1 Plastics are 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 plastics 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 the default situation. 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 Plastics
Oil is extracted, transported, made into plastics, 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 Plastics 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 Plastics Do Not Degrade
They do not. Ever. Plastics break 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 plastics are gone, they’re still here. Just in a small form. And because they break down into small plastics they pollute everything. Plastics are found everywhere. In our food, in animals and even in us. More and more plastics are produced every single day and so the problem gets bigger every single day.
And when we burn the plastics they’re still not gone. They have then been transformed into another form: air pollution. This is also why I’d always prefer paper over plastics. It is said that paper production emits more CO2 than plastics production. That is true as if right now. But that proces can be improved by renewable energy and paper is a renewable resource. Plastics do not degrade and therefore the proces can’t be improved.
5 Plastics are 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 are black plastics. 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 Plastics Ends up Everywhere
Plastics 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 these plastics only ends up in the environment because people intentionally throw them on the streets. They also end up in nature unintentionally. From a garbage truck or 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 Plastics Harm our Health
It’s not a coincidence that you are advised not to use a plastic bottle multiple times. The chemicals in plastics leak. They 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 plastics are not healthy. It’s also been proved that micro-plastics attract toxic substances. Plastics are poison to your body. The less plastics you use, the better.
8 We usually Do Not Need Plastics
We’re used to plastics 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 toothbrushes, we can just compost the bamboo 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.
There are so many ways in which 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
Those were 8 reasons to ditch plastics (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.