Plastic can have negative effects on both human life and the environment. This raises the question of why use plastic? Plastic is generally significantly cheaper than other materials used as containers such as glass. Additionally, if you drop a glass bottle on a hard surface it will likely shatter when if you did the same thing to a plastic bottle, it would probably just bounce showing how plastic is also generally more sturdy than other types of materials as well.
Plastic and The Ocean
Plastic in our oceans can harm and/or kill many types of marine life. When plastic enters the ocean, it can sometimes look like prey to animals such as a sea turtle and when that turtle consumes that “prey” it could rupture certain organs and/or lead to other severe health issues. Plastic can also break down and release toxins and microplastics which pollute and contaminate these bodies of water.
Plastics not only harm humans and wildlife, but also destroy beautiful beaches. Beaches are not only amazing places to relax on during the summer, but they are also generally elaborate ecosystems. When mass amounts of plastic waste piles up on beaches it can ruin them for both of these uses.
Plastic and The Air
Plastic byproducts can end up in the air in a variety of different ways including incineration or breaking down in the ocean. Plastic byproducts released in the air are generally extremely toxic chemicals and according to multiple different sources have been linked to cancer and other harmful effects in humans.
Plastic also has negative effects on our air quality when it is being made. This air quality can pose a particular risk to factory workers if there is not enough ventilation and other safety measures in place. This is one of the many reasons why laws around safety for workers is important. However, according to several sources, China is the largest exporter of plastic in the world, and we do not have much say over worker safety overseas.
Plastic and Our Food
When you go to the grocery store you may notice that a lot of the food that we consume is in plastic packaging. There are a number of different reasons for this, but many of the main reasons lead back to keeping things affordable which is good for both the producer and consumer of the food. However, microplastics consisting of unhealthy chemicals from this packaging can seep into the food.
Plastics Beneficial Impacts
Although plastic can have negative impacts on the environment, it also has many positive impacts as well! One of the major positive impacts it has is its recyclability. When recycled plastic can take a wide variety of different forms. For example, a plastic bottle could end up turning into a container after being recycled.
Another benefit of plastic is that in some forms it can last for a long time. Although there is a lot of plastic that is generally single use, some forms such as containers or construction materials can be used consistently for weeks, months, or even years. There are too many other great uses of plastic and reasons to use it to list in today’s blog, but there are many other great sources to learn from!
Plastic is good for our economy in many different ways, but it also has many direct and indirect costs to our environment. With that being said, there are many ways that you can help the environment such as using glass containers to store food when possible and recycling plastic when you do use it!