Why plastic is such a problem?

When plastic was first developed (in a recognisable form) in 1907 it became an instant success taking over from many natural materials such as glass, metal, wood and ceramic. Due to the unique qualities of the various forms of plastic it has found beneficial use in a wide variety of fields including the medical profession. However as production increased of the cheap to manufacture material other uses, combined with clever marketing found a whole new market in which to make money - the disposable lifestyle.

In developed countries the message was pushed from the big companies making these cheap plastic goods that we could all have an easier life. We can grab water on the go, conveniently packaged in plastic bottles, we don't have to waste time washing household and bathroom essentials, just throw them away and buy new, and most of what we buy could even be wrapped twice, once in it's own plastic (even fruit and veg) before being carried home in yet another plastic bag! It sounds crazy when we put it like that and it probably would have sounded crazy to suggest this before the introduction of plastic, yet somehow advertising and convenience took over and creating the problem we are now trying desperately to solve.

It is reported that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the 1950's and yet only 9% of this has thought to be recycled. It is estimated 79% of the remaining plastic is still in landfills or the environment. It is a sad fact 12 million tonnes a year end up in the ocean. By 2050 calculations show there will be more plastic in the seas than fish.

image credit - adventuretravelnews

We can choose not to buy one of the 500 billion single-use plastic drinks bottles produced annually, that is an easy and obvious choice. However sometimes we are using hidden plastic without even knowing. Most women's sanitary products are 90% plastic with a single pack of sanitary towels having the equivalent amount to five plastic bags! Cleaning up the oceans isn't the solution, stopping the manufacture of the plastic is.