7 things you probably didn’t know about plastic
One of the greatest man made problems facing the future generations is the ever increasing plastic waste piling up in the world. Here are 7 things you probably didn’t know know about the impacts of our plastic addiction with number 8 being bonus info.
1. A product that will never leave the planet
Plastic, a material designed to last forever and yet 33% is created to be used only once and then being discarded. The problem is that conventional plastic cannot biodegrade, whereas it simply breaks down into continually smaller pieces, turning it self into what we know as microplastic. The mass of plastic exceeds the amount of plankton six times in the most polluted areas in the ocean
2. An environmental destroyer
With a staggering 299 million tonnes of plastic being discarded each year (2013), it is estimated that between 22 – 43% ends up as garbage at landfills across the globe. Much of the plastic leachate toxic chemicals that seep down into our precious groundwater or flowing downstream until it reach lakes, rivers and the ocean.
3. A devastating impact on human health
Toxins derived from plastics are proved to be dangerous for humans. Exposure to chemicals such as Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Bisphenol-A (BHA), Polystyrene and Phthalates are linked to various health diseases such as different types of cancers, infertility, endocrine disruptions etc.
4.A threat to our wildlife
We all remember that video containing a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose. Poor thing. Unfortunately this is not a rare incident. Entanglement, ingestion and ultimately suffocation all results from plastic ending up in animal habitats.
5. A poisoned food chain
A billion people around the world rely mainly on fish as their primary source of protein. With microplastic floating around in the oceans, these are mistakenly being eaten by plankton and fish. With the tiny pieces of plastic being absorbed by marine life, the plastic literally returns back to us served on our dinner plate.
6. A plastic face wash
Are you using exfoliating products or perhaps soaps containing microbeads? Chances are you have washed your face with plastic. Microbeads are tiny plastic balls looking quite innocent and as it turns out, it is pretty evil stuff. When using microbead products, the plastic microbeads washes down the drain. Being too small to be filtered, they then end up in the oceans with an end destination being our food and blood stream. May we say no more?
7. A water pollution outfit
Synthetic clothes such as acrylic garments are made from plastic microfibers and when those materials shed fibers during washing, the microfibers find their way into our waters. Since it cannot biodegrade, those microfibers like many other types of plastic work their way up in the food chain polluting our food supplies. During the lifetime of a single piece of clothing, it can release as much as 700,000 microfibers. That is a lot of fibers. Think about it for a moment, your favourite fleece jacket is actually a plastic jacket constantly polluting the waters every time it’s being washed.
8. Bonus info
Scientists have discovered a rare plastic eating fungus living in the Amazon rainforest named Pestalotiposis microspora. This fungus is capable of breaking down Polyurethane and it can do so in the depths of a landfill. If this fungus is willing to help fighting this cause, it is more than welcome.