Why is plastic harmful?
One reason that plastic is worryingly dangerous is that it literally never goes away. It is made to last forever and cannot biodegrade – yet many things made of plastic are disposed of after one one use!
Another thing to note is the danger that plastic poses to wildlife – they can become entangled in it or mistake it for food. There are currently over 50 million pieces of plastic in the ocean – and it poses a threat to at least 700 types of marine species. It’s not only sea life that’s affected though, plastic also causes harm to birds and land mammals.
It may surprise you to learn that plastic not only affects animals, but is also a danger to human health. Toxic chemicals from plastic get into our bloodstream, and have been linked to many serious health conditions such as cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues, insulin resistance, and impaired immunity.
Plastic also poses a threat because millions of tonnes of it are disposed of every year, and only around 8% is recycled. The rest ends up in landfill sights or is discarded as litter.
Some facts about recycling plastic:
Not all plastic is recyclable. Plastic straws, bags, and coffee cups are among types of plastic that cannot be recycled – and even if it has the ‘recyclable’ symbol, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will actually get recycled. Also, any plastic that has food residue left on it cannot be recycled – so even if it may seem annoying, it’s very important to wash your plastic before you throw it into the recycling bin.
Recycling plastic affects the quality. The same piece of plastic can only be recycled 2 or 3 times, because each time the quality decreases to the point where it can no longer be used. Additionally, each time plastic is ‘recycled’, it has to be mixed with a virgin material to improve the quality – meaning that when something claims to be made from recycled plastic, that isn’t 100% accurate.
In contrast, glass and metal can be recycled indefinitely without losing any quality, so where possible these are much more environmentally friendly options.