We’ve been wondering: Why is plastic bad?

plastic waste

The problematic nature of plastic is knowledge many take for granted these days. However, that may be a foolhardy stance. We’ve seen the questions asked: Why is plastic bad? Why all the fuss about eliminating single-use plastics? How does it even affect me?

These questions are fair, and misinformation can make finding accurate information tough. So, we’ve pulled together three of the strongest arguments showing:

  • Why plastics are harmful to our climate.
  • How plastics harm nature and wildlife.
  • Why phasing out single-use plastics is worth the effort.

Plastic contributes to global warming

Thanks to being durable, lightweight and cheap to produce, plastic has become completely ubiquitous in our lives. But to make all the bags, straws, cartons, containers, tags, ties, banners, fliers, cups, bottles and more that we rely on, we produce a lot of it. More than $616.82 billion worth by 2028, to be precise. And every bit of it starts with fossil fuels.

First, fossil fuels are used to power the drilling for plastic’s raw materials, which are also fossil fuels. During drilling, millions of tons of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere each year. Hundreds of millions more tons are released as emissions during the manufacturing process. Finally, at the end of a plastic object’s lifespan, the most common disposal method is incineration, a process which, yet again, releases harmful greenhouse gases.

Plastic harms our waterways

Remember how we mentioned plastic is durable and lightweight? These qualities don’t just make it a convenient material for disposable items. They also make it easy for those disposable items to end up in our waterways. Whether carelessly discarded or blown out of receptacles, at least 14 million tons of plastic ends up swept into our oceans every year.

Once in our waters, plastic wreaks havoc on the natural environment. Aquatic species eat it, causing sickness and death. They also get tangled in it, causing injuries and death. If those species are fished or hunted, the plastic may also have a harmful impact on the human consumer.

But you don’t need to eat seafood to ingest the plastics in our waters. Over time, plastic waste breaks down into what’s been dubbed microplastics — extremely small, even microscopic, particles. We don’t have a reliable method for filtering these particles out, so they ultimately end up in the water we drink. That’s regardless of if it’s from the tap or sold as “pure” in yet another disposable plastic bottle.

Ending single-use plastics would have a huge impact

There are lots of strategies for individuals to reduce or eliminate single-use plastics in their lives. We even covered 7 of the easiest ones on our blog. But it’s not uncommon for people to ask, why bother? What impact can I possibly have?

It’s true that, if you were the only person who decided to make the switch, it wouldn’t do much. However, saying no to single-use plastics is a growing movement. When you join that movement, you’re adding your efforts to the efforts of many others. With enough people, we can make real change.

On average, each American uses:

By switching to reusable shopping bags and straws, eliminating bottles (both for beverages and cleaning sprays) and choosing bamboo toothbrushes, one person can eliminate 4,353 grams of plastics a year. That’s nearly ten pounds for every person that makes that change. Those are the kinds of numbers that add up fast.

Doing away with plastic, one bit at a time

While these arguments make it pretty clear plastic is bad in multiple ways, that doesn’t make eliminating it a simple prospect. Cutting it out cold turkey is too daunting for many of us to even consider. Fortunately, we don’t have to start there. Making small switches to easy, plastic-free alternatives is an excellent starting place that’s neither difficult nor intimidating.

At Nature Lake, we offer a complete range of cleaning tablets and glass sprayer bottles. Just add water, and you’re ready to clean, with a sprayer bottle you can refill for years to come. Order online and have your products shipped to your front door, for a truly easy plastic-free solution!

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