Plastics (various plastic material types) are usually polymers with high molecular mass and very often also contain other different chemical substances. Nowadays, they are most commonly synthetic, derived from petrochemicals; however, an increasing number of variants are made from renewable or biodegradable materials like polylactic acid, corn, celluloses and even cotton!
Plastic is one of those materials that helped humanity to develop various solutions to many problems, but inevitably this creates new problems on the way! Through the ages we have crafted methods to reuse and/or recycle this material but we still generate much more waste on an ever-growing expanding scale.
Due to cultural differences, interpersonal and social reasons, and lack of proper knowledge and desire for recycling we manage to amass great volumes of waste on a level that is nearing the brink of catastrophe with each passing minute.
We as humans rely heavily on using different plastic products on a daily basis, some of which are for long-term usage but others are quite quickly disposed of on a mass scale and proportion.
This has led to a lot of plastic in our oceans, soil and general environment.
The first mentioned group of products could include household and domestic electrical appliances, accessories and objects of regular need as well as prolonged duration of their exploitation. Although when their functionality or modernity is surpassed we usually get rid of them and buy more up-to-date models or units. Very often, the new versions of these are much more eco-friendly/recycled due to advances in technology and science, but would still become waste if not properly recycled.
The latter mentioned group could be the so wide spread one-time or single-use products such as plastic packets, packages, food containers and straws which expire right after their wholesomeness is compromised. Another group that has the ability to be reused for some limited time are plastic bags, cups, plates and containers. Many countries have taken active policy measures against single-use items and today in some places around the world such plastic products are even banned!
The effects of plastic that has ended up as waste in nature are devastating towards both animals (predominantly avian and marine wildlife, but a great number of land creatures are affected negatively as well) and plant species alike.
Many people may not realize or simply don’t care, but plastic pollution is absolutely huge and is getting worse and worse. If we don’t resort more to recycling and biodegradable materials, soon our future will look like this:
Today we would like to introduce to you some of the most important plastic pollution facts that will change your views and stimulate you to consider the problematic reality of the situation we have at hand, as well as offer some important tips and guidelines on how you can contribute to help resolve the crisis responsibly, by becoming more informed and greener in the process.
We are going to separate this article in a few different sections according to the type and category of impact it has on us, animals, the environment and planet as whole. We are also going to especially focus on some of the main quickly disposed items and their possible harm. At the end we are going to suggest some good practices, bring some up-to-date knowledge on the topic and hopefully motivate you to get involved and reduce the negative effects of plastic as best as we can!
To reach any solution we should first know what we are dealing with in the equation:
So let’s begin with the most disturbing plastic pollution facts that will change your views on how bad exactly plastic is:
1. Plastics are classified by their chemical structure, some important groups to mention include: acrylics, polyesters, silicones, polyurethanes, biodegradable and thermoplastics!
2. The different types are used in the production of different items and objects from straws to much more complex structures and items.
3. Each group has a different length of their half-life (period of decay for any material calculated at its half). Sometimes this number exceeds 1000 years, meaning that every piece of plastic ever made is still around us in some shape or form.
4. Historically, plastics have possibly started as organic polymers in as early as 1600 B.C.
5. Throughout the centuries their usage has increased in popularity, application and practicality.
6. When the Industrial revolution came to be the implications were already numerous and supported the progress of at least a few different major industries, but still at this stage mostly organic materials were used in the production process!
7. The discovery of the first synthetic types of plastics happened after World War I due to improvements in chemistry.
8. Since the 1950s, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced around the world and this number increases constantly at an enormous rate! Roughly 91 percent of it doesn’t get recycled!
9. In today’s reality the plastic manufacturing industry is one the biggest around the world with trillions of US Dollars of worth in sales. (The industry amounted a bit over 320 million tons of plastic for just 2015 alone!)
10. If we continue at the same ever-increasing rate by the year 2050 there are probably going to be somewhere around 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills all around the world.
11. Plastic is so widely spread due to its important properties and numerous possible applications, at one point it was (and possibly still is) one of the leading components in innovation and scientific progress. Materials such as Bakelite, rubber and nylon have revolutionized our world and have had a major impact on our social structure and culture!
Nonetheless, it is not the undeniable applications of plastic that are crucial here; it is our plastic production and management that are leading us to all the negative effects and current or upcoming problems!
Plastic being one of the most widely spread accessible material is all around us in our cities, homes, personal belongings, everyday products and food packaging. And in contrast to its practicality and usability it also has some dangerous properties such as: highly flammable, poisonous, contains toxic chemicals etc.. It should not be consumed, chewed and given to young children without supervision!
12. At every stage of its lifecycle (Extraction – Decay), plastic poses a serious threat to our health in various ways!
13. Plastic is everywhere around us in different shape and size (from atoms and molecules to whole spaces and structures!).
14. Plastic affects our lives immensely and in so many different ways that is almost impossible to not have any damage done to our health by it. It’s in total contrary to a balanced organic way of living.
15. Plastic could be responsible or strongly be involved in the development of many health issues for people through inhalation, ingestion and even skin contact!
16. Plastic particles could affect our health through direct contact with air, water and food!
18. Plastic hinders not only the sustainable methods of agriculture, but contemporary farming as well.
These are directly and indirectly related to tarnishing our health, so they are definitely a must in our list of “43 disturbing plastic pollution facts that will open your eyes”
19. Plastic is the cause of death for more than a million wildlife creatures a year!
20. About 90% of all birds and fish are considered to have plastic particles in their stomach!
21. Almost 700 marine species are facing extinction due to plastic in our oceans!
22. More than 50% of sea turtles have already consumed plastic in some form!
23. Fish keep on ingesting microplastics used in facial cleaners and toothpastes!
24. Many animals have washed up on shores around the world full of plastic objects!
25. Some studies predict that by 2050 there is going to be more plastic in our oceans than fish. We can barely say there is organic seafood now as it is, but when all the seawater gets polluted in the near future, that would be completely impossible and almost all the fish will be contaminated with plastic particles.
26. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is just one (though the biggest) of the few such (5 to be exact!) that are in existence today! It alone covers 1.6 million square kilometers, which is a larger area than almost 240 of the world’s countries individually; only 19 countries cover a bigger area than that!
27. Just 10 rivers across Asia and Africa carry about 90% of the plastic that ends up in the oceans.
28. 73% of beach litter worldwide consists of plastic objects.
29. It is estimated that at least eight million tons of plastic waste is added to the world’s oceans each year.
30. Plastic pollution in the ocean is a problem that directly affects us all on a global scale!
31. Most plastics aren’t biodegradable and instead break down into microplastics, which remain longer.
32. There are at least five trillion particles currently floating in the waters of oceans and seas.
33. Up to 6% of our global oil resource is used into the production of plastic; this then contributes to Global warming and Climate Change.
35. Plastic has been the main reason for different natural disasters including floods and fires.
If the plastic in the ocean facts, or the effects of plastic on us, the animals or planet aren’t enough we would like to introduce you to our next session with focus on everyday objects!
Our list of shocking facts about plastic will not be complete without mentioning some of the most important mass-produced items to take more responsibility and proper disposal care with! Below you are going to find some disturbing plastic bags facts, as well as a few for the single-use plastic bottles that might shock you too.
34. Heads up, the next are some of the most disturbing plastic pollution facts!It takes more than 500 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t break down completely but rather become microplastics with toxins and continue to have effect on the environment in a bad way.
36. As many as one trillion plastic bags are produced every year; it has been discovered that the average time a bag is used is between 12-15 minutes.
37. About 2 million plastic bags are used every single minute worldwide.
38. Just 9% of all plastic bags are being recycled; the majority is constantly accumulating in various landfills or actively are polluting our natural environment and harming wildlife.
39. The average family only recycles about 15 bags a year! Plastic bags pollution is continuously increasing!
40. A million plastic bottles are purchased around the globe every minute.
41. Single-use plastic bottles of various sizes are one of the biggest ocean pollutants.
42. Some plastic bottles require up to 700 years of decomposing, and even when that happens their particles are still spread around! 80% of bottles never get recycled!
43. When water is stored in plastic bottles chemicals end up in it! This process is accelerated even more when we crackle our bottles, meaning that we most probably ingest lots of microplastics with the water!
By far you must be quite shocked to learn about all of this plastic bag pollution and facts about plastic bottles; we are not going to allow you to leave on a negative note so get ready for some effective solutions that you can adopt!
So what are some solutions to the problems we listed? Some of our strongest tools available include recycling, repurpose and reuse of materials in order to help the environment and protect wildlife:
1. Various materials could be recycled, the list includes: metals, paper, glass and plastics!
2. Recycling helps us retain a proportion of our natural recourses and could even generate energy!
3. There are countries around the world that import rubbish to recycle it, since they have already recycled theirs!
4. More than 60% of trash that ends up in regular bins could actually be recycled if disposed properly!
5. Recycling reduces waste and promotes a stable model of coexisting with nature!
6. Repurposing is a wonderful method of using objects in new and practical ways!
7. Multiple-use products are s much better choice than Single-use ones!
8. Recycling is a very lucrative business industry generating over 200 Billion US Dollars in the US annually.
And here is what you dear reader could personally do to actively reduce plastic pollution right now and today!
1. Use a multiple-use cup/bottle, shopping bag and other possible daily objects, preferably made of alternative materials, for long enough periods.
2. Dispose of your domestic trash appropriately and throw it away separately and in the corresponding bins around you!
3. Try to pick up rubbish at every opportunity you might have and dispose of it accordingly!
4. Turn off the tap water when washing your teeth, have a bit shorter showers and less bathtub sessions! – Every drop matters! Try to reduce consumption of water by optimizing your dishwasher and washing machine programmes!
5. Use less paper and do not make exceedingly big amounts of paper copies, try to use digital solutions!
6. Turn off lamps and electrical appliances when you do not use them! Forgotten phone chargers that are still plugged are one of the biggest electricity wasters!
7. Drive your car less and leave it behind if the situation allows for it, use public transport and prioritize those forms of transportation and commuting that are using electricity, to ones that are fueled with gas!
8. Get informed for the facts and possible alternatives or solutions to the problems we are facing together!
10. Do not make personal litter; minimize your consumption and waste!
11. Try to teach others and stimulate them to take your good example!
We hope that you find our plastic pollution facts list useful and a material worth spreading, so we encourage you to send this article to all your friends and close people! After all we share this planet and its environment and wildlife population, we all must be responsible enough in order to survive longer!
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