It seems crazy but, scientists are predicting that by 2050 there might be more plastic than fish in the sea!
All that plastic is poisoning the planet and heralding in anew epoch in human environmental damage. Now, at Elephant Box we’re big fans of things that are environmentally friendly and made to last. We’re not so much a fan of plastics, but we know how difficult they are to avoid - I mean plastics are pretty much everywhere right?
So, join us over the next four weeks we look at how we can reduce our plastic usage, put pressure on retailers to reduce theirs and learn about some pretty cool people who are using technology to beat the plastic problem.
Let’s begin with a bit of history of plastics…
Did you know that what is widely accepted to be the first man-made plastic was created byAlexander Parks in Birmingham, UK in 1856?
He developed it to show at the Great International Exhibition in London in 1856 and, in typical Victorian fashion, named his invention after himself - calling it Parkesine (not Alexander).
Polypropylene (the stuff they make terrible office chairs out of) wasinvented in 1954. The market for this plastic is expected to grow at a rate of 5.8% per year until 2021, making the total market worth in excess ofUS$145 billion.
Since the end of the Second World War, we have produced enough plastic tocover the entire world in clingfilm. There is almost nowhere on earth that is untouched from plastics.
In fact, plastics are even in our food. Scientists from Belgium’s Ghent University recently calculated that on average eaters ofshellfish consume 11,000 plastic fragments per year. A 2016 study by scientists at Plymouth University discovered that plastic fragments are in a third of all fish caught off the coast of Britain. Shocking, but hardly surprising when you consider that since the invention of the polythene bag in the 1950’s global plastic production jumped from5 million tonnes to 311 million tonnes by 2014.
That’s the then and the now of plastics.
Why else should you break up with polythene?
The infographic below highlights some of the reasons why you should break up with plastics then we look at each section in more detail.
You can download your infographic here.
You could be poisoning yourself
Even if you couldn’t care less about the environment then you should still reduce the amount of plastic that is coming into contact with your food. Evidence suggests that plastic food containers leach a potentially harmful chemical. The chemical, called Bisphenol A, is thought to belinked with, prostate cancer, breast cancer, altered menstrual cycles and diabetes. Even if the evidence is not conclusive, just the fact that it is open for debate should be enough to persuade us to make the switch to food grade, stainless steel containers.
Plastic is even poisoning deep-sea animals
The impact of plastic pollution on marine life is horrific; overone million seabirds and 10,000 marine mammals die annually as a result. Now, it seems that, unbelievably, our plastic problem is so acute that even deep sea animals are suffering. Researchers from the universities of Oxford and Bristol found that therewere traces of plastics inside hermit crabs, squat lobsters and sea cucumbers, at depths of between 300m and 1 800m. Toxic chemicals from plastics have even been found in crustaceans living at depths of 10,000 m.
There’s more to it than recycling
Of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year onlyaround 10% is recycled. See, the price of plastic is tied to the price of oil. Depending on which way the market is fluctuating this can make it cheaper to buy virgin plastic than to recycle. The lack of a profitable market means that some of your plastic recycling gets sold to, typically less well off, countries. They’re low paid workerssift through the plastics to find pieces that are of value while the remainder gets incinerated.
Big companies won’t clean up plastics for you
Greenpeace recently mounted a campaign to raise awareness over Coca Cola’s refusal to take responsibility for their role in plastic pollution. Greenpeace found that globally Coca Cola uses less than 7% recycled content and its use of single-use plastics is actually increasing! If that wasn’t bad enough it got less than halfway towards its 2015 target to get just 25% of plastic bottles from “recycled or renewable sources”.Now it’s missed that target Coca Cola has no plans to commit to a new one!
Some mind-blowing statistics:
Over 100 billion throwaway plastic bottles every year,
That’s around 3,400 throwaway plastic bottles every second.
So while it is our responsibility to recycle company’s that use plastics need to take some responsibility too.
You’re wasting energy!
The production, transportation, and sale of the goods we buy in plastics accounts for an enormous amount of energy. The production of a single bottle of bottled water, for example, together with its transportation and sale takes 2000 times the amount of energyneeded to produce tap water. Ironically, it also takes three litres of water to produce one litre of bottled water.
So there you go. Five pretty compelling reasons to start reducing the amount of plastics in your life. Next week we will be giving you five easy steps that you can take immediately to ditch the plastic. In the meantime, why not start by making the switch from plastic to food grade, stainless steel lunchboxes? The planet and your health will thank you for it.
One last thought, think about the absurdity of it all. Somewhere in the ocean right now there is probably a container ship full of plastic ducks. Plastic ducks that will outlive all of us, along with the fish-shaped soy sauce containers that you get at sushi restaurants.
Reduce the amount of plastics in your life, swap over to ethically produced, food grade stainless steel containers today.