Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Sone Unavoidable Facts About Plastic
We all use plastics, in some form or another, in our life. It is everywhere, in our homes, and gardens, as well as most places when out and about.
Plastic takes thousands of years to break down, and it causes untold suffering in the environment, especially when it gets into the soil, rivers and seas, where it is ingested by fish and other sea creatures. Eventually finding it’s way though the food chain to us! But are you aware that plastic does not biodegrade, but photo degrades, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic pieces, contaminating soil, waterways, oceans and entering the food web when ingested by animals.
Scientists estimate each plastic item could last in the environment anywhere between 400 to 1000 years. (New Scientist) (UNEP)
Since the 1950's almost every piece of plastic that we have ever made, used and thrown away is still here on this planet in one form or another, whether its in our homes, in landfill or in the environment; and it will be here for centuries to come.
Plasticisers are a group of chemicals that are added to plastic resins during the manufacturing process. As a general rule plasticisers soften the final plastic product increasing its flexibility.
However because these plasticisers are an additive and not actually part of the plastics molecular structure its been established that traces of these chemicals can leach out when they come into contact with a product - for example food or drink.
Nearly 90% of floating marine litter is plastic.
Since the dawn of the plastic era it is estimate that 5% of all the world's post production plastic has entered the world's oceans. That is just over 100 million tons of plastic
Worldwide, at least 143 marine species are known to have become entangled in marine debris (including almost all of the world's species of sea turtles) and at least 177 marine species (including 95% of all the worlds sea birds) have eaten plastic litter. (environment.gov.au 2004) (seabirds ref, Alterra/Save the North Sea/North Pacific University of Victoria BC,Canada)
Plastic carrier bags – these have to be the worst example of an unnecessary disposable plastic product. Luckily they are also perhaps the easiest one to avoid – TAKE YOUR OWN BAG TO THE SHOP!
Plastic water bottles – now a sadly common site in our rivers and oceans. What to do? DRINK TAPWATER – it’s clean and safe and you're already paying for it! What's more it can be conveniently carried in stainless steel water bottles and flasks.
Soft drink bottles -BUY DRINKS IN CANS OR GLASS BOTTLES
Packing on vegetables in supermarkets - ALWAYS TRY AND BUY LOOSE VEG AND FRUIT. Till operators are now used to people just putting vegetables loose into their basket.
Over packaging on meat and fish items - if your supermarket has one, use the MEAT COUNTER, it usually saves the use of a polystyrene base. Even better – buy you meat from a butcher!
If you are feeling really brave RIP ALL EXCESS PACKAGING OFF your produce and bought items, once you get to the checkout. This campaign has actually worked in other European countries with many supermarkets reducing their packaging as a result.
The more people who express their dislike of disposable plastic products and packaging with their wallets the easier it will get to find alternatives.