Global plastic production has recorded about a twofold increase with every passing decade in the recent times.
Plastic has become an undeniable part of our daily lives, but an enormous of this durable product is used just once, and often briefly. After which it lands in our rubbish bins and takes hundreds of years to degrade!
So, what is it about plastic that makes it harmful to our planet as well as our lives?
How is Plastic Made?
Did you know that the unnaturally produced plastic that you use today was once produced via natural resources? As surprising it may sound, it is true that the earliest forms of plastic were made from the sap of gum trees, dating back to some 3500 years ago!
Synthetic plastics including celluloid and Bakelite came to the fore in the 19th and 20th centuries, and since then plastic has become unstoppable in its wide use and production.
Most of the plastic used today depends largely upon fossil fuels (crude oil & natural gas) as its primary resource. The man-made plastic that you use today is essentially made of polymer – a composition that gives plastic its natural tendency to mould and shape under any influence of pressure or heat.
Refineries transform crude oil into ethane and natural gas into propane which is then further refined into the versions of ethylene and propylene, which become polymers termed as “resins”.
These “resins” then go through a further process of melting, cooling, and chopping, to form “nurdles” – a term used for plastic pellets in its pre-production stage. “Nurdles” are used by plastic manufacturers to produce various kinds of plastic goods that take hundreds of years to decompose on their own.
What is the (potential) Solution?
The most harmful plastics that need to be avoided are “Single-use plastics” like grocery bags, cans, straws, product packets, etc. These are often not reusable, and end up polluting our environment and natural habitats.
Every single effort you can make towards avoiding the use of these plastics by replacing them with other solutions is valuable in the fight to save our planet from turning into a poisonous pile of plastic waste.
Another step that could help reduce the hazard of plastic accumulation globally is by returning to the production of plastics using natural resources.
Natural resources like the rubber tree offer sustainable yet biodegradable materials (like latex) for various plastic products. Therefore, the more mindful you become in the use of plastic, the more sustainable our lives will become on this planet!
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