The Plastic Crisis: A Polluted Planet

Plastic is all around us. In fact, without it the world as we know it wouldn't exist. We need plastic for a huge range of products, from aviation through to medical equipment. So, what's our problem with it?

It might be surprising to hear, but we don't have a hatred of plastic. It was developed to save the planet, not ruin it. Here are a few examples:
  • Plastic bags were made to stop deforestation caused by paper bag manufacturing.
  • PET and HDPE are common plastics that can be easily recycled via our household recycling collections.
  • It survives extreme conditions and lasts a long time.
  • It's often lighter than alternative materials, saving transport costs and resources.
  • It reduces food waste by preserving food for far longer than if left unpackaged.
  • Plastics protect against contamination of food and provide a barrier against microbes, moisture and UV rays.
The arguments for plastic on the surface seem very convincing. However, as always there's two sides to every story:
  • Single use plastic bags aren't made to last and once used they add to the plastic pollution crisis. Reusable fabric bags are better for the environment and a great alternative, as long as you keep reusing them.
  • Plastic can generally only be recycled between one and three times. Often, virgin plastic is added to recycled plastic to make it stronger.
  • Plastic takes hundreds of years to biodegrade: what do we do with all this rubbish once the product is broken beyond repair and decaying into tiny pieces that cause injury or death to animals?

Alternatives are available to combat the last three points:

  • Innovative new packaging such as mushroom packaging is also lightweight and breaks down into natural elements far quicker.
  • Shopping for local, fresh and seasonal produce means food doesn't need to last as long before being consumed and we don't necessarily need packaging. When we have more than we can eat at home, we can just freeze it.
  • For medicine and specialist applications, conventional plastic could be replaced with silicone or bio-plastic which at least isn't an oil derivative.

One of the more obvious problems with plastic is the disposal of it. This wonder material that lasts for so long and has so many uses, is suddenly a serious problem. In fact, there's no way to properly dispose of plastic - yet. You can either:

  1. Burn it, producing a multitude of fumes that are shockingly dangerous for the environment and human health.
  2. Bury it which leaches chemicals into the earth, contaminating the area.
  3. Dump it in the ocean and make it that little bit more polluted beyond repair.
  4. Ship it off overseas and make it a developing country's problem.

The best thing to do as consumers is to reduce our plastic use. By using alternative products and shopping for unpackaged goods we can reduce consumption massively.

There is another problem that plastic has, at least in part, caused: single use is ingrained in our society, whether it be products or packaging. That's a topic for next time, let's focus on some positives for the rest of this post!

Fortunately, hope is on the horizon. There are now a multitude of new plastics being researched and developed that will safely biodegrade in water and companies are competing in a race against time to be the next multi-billion company that develops the winning material. Even more exciting, both a species of caterpillars and bacteria have been discovered which can digest and break down plastic! As a short-term fix these solutions are good, but as consumers we need to reduce the plastic we use right now.

We are years off any solutions, and whilst the future looks bright we can't use that as an excuse to ignore the pollution we are creating every day. Most importantly, none of these solutions in the long run address our underlying issue of single-use or our over-consumption of natural resources well beyond the sustainable threshold. 

By shopping at Tecorra, you can make plastic-free that little bit easier. Nearly all our products are entirely plastic-free. When they're not we tell you and all our products are shipped in plastic-free packaging, including the tape.

Ditch the unnecessary plastic. Save our planet! Browse our store here.

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