Did You Know: Quick Facts About Plastic

Did You Know: Quick Facts About Plastic

A group of women on a deserted beach, carry supplies for a beach clean up

Plastic is a miracle product. It's cheap to produce, durable, extremely versatile...EXCEPT it does not go away. Every piece of plastic ever made still exists- and will outlive all of us.

Plastic is made to last forever, but it is most often used to make products meant to be used for minutes or even seconds, and then discarded. 

It's everywhere in the world. Literally everywhere. Plastic is found in the water, in the air, in the soil, in wildlife, in animal agriculture, and even inside of us. 

Not only is plastic an environmental hazard, it is also a human hazard that affects all of us, especially marginalized, vulnerable, and low-income communities around the world. Plastic pollution is a social justice issue

Plastic is cheap and versatile. 

Plastic is made from chemicals derived from fossil fuels. It’s cheap to produce and can be molded into many different products with the addition of different polymers. Plastic is made to last “forever.” We treat plastics as single use, disposable items. Every plastic item every produced still exists.

Only 9% of plastic is recycled.

That’s it. Discarded plastic doesn’t “break down,” it breaks apart into micro- and nano- plastics that contaminate waterways, foodways, and us. These particles can take hundreds or thousands of years to decompose, releasing harmful chemicals as they do. Plastic is rarely recycled because it is an intensive process- and burning it is cheaper and easier.

Furthermore, oil companies launched massive campaigns promoting recycling in the 1990s while knowing that recycling was not sustainable and not a long-term, viable solution to the waste problem

Recycling is NOT a silver bullet solution to the pollution problem. We- as a species- must end our relationship with plastic. 

Microplastics are found everywhere.

Literally, from the top of Mt. Everest to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, microplastics are found everywhere in the planet, including in the human body (lungs, blood, heart, breast milk, placenta, feces). 

It is not fully understood how plastic chemicals impact the human body, although some studies show that long-term plastic exposure can affect endocrine function

Ocean plastic may be harming the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon. Wildlife can become entangled in plastic and die, die from ingesting plastic, and/or experience a shorter lifespan because of consuming plastic

It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

What is a circular economy?

A circular economy is one where products are reused or re-imagined to extend their life and keep them out of landfills. Upcycling, Buy Nothing groups, and thrifting are examples of a circular economy.

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