Envirospeak: Plastic not-so-fantastic
Envirospeak By Maggie Riddington // 20:22, Saturday 4 May 2013
Plastic. Marvellous, versatile, dynamic plastic.
Plastic was first made by Alexander Parkes in 1862. Since then many different types of plastic have been created including polystyrene, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), cellophane, nylon and polypropylene. We come into contact with plastic every day and it seems to bring us convenience and benefit, but there is something much more sinister about this common material. At the supermarket we buy meat on a Styrofoam tray wrapped with glad-wrap and strawberries in a plastic punnet, and to get it home we put it all in a plastic bag. The production, consumption and particularly the waste of plastic is a huge environmental issue. It threatens our ecosystems, the animals living in those ecosystems and it even threatens our own health.
Plastic can be ingested by marine life once it reaches the ocean or it may strangle or restrict the growth of an animal if it gets wrapped around it. Plastic can release harmful chemicals into an animal’s body which can in turn be passed up the food chain. Some of the chemicals found in plastics, such as BPA (Bisphenol A), can cause hormone imbalances in humans and my increase risk of diabetes, autism, ADHD and breast and prostate cancer. The list goes on, and that’s just one chemical.
So plastics are bad for our environment and the animals in it and they certainly can be bad for us. But given we have become such a plastic society, what can we do? Remember to reduce, then reuse and, lastly, recycle. As a consumer we can exercise our power by making good decisions at the supermarket such as buying toilet paper packaged in paper rather than plastic. Consumers can also make an impact by reducing consumption of bottled water. Bottled water is not only a rip off – it is also a resource-intensive product, using massive amounts of oil to create the plastic bottles and releasing tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process. Advocate for a container deposit scheme. Bring your own canvas bags to the supermarket. There are lots of ways that you can begin to reduce the burden of plastic on our environment, and you may dramatically improve your health in the process.
For some great resource and information watch the film ‘Bag It’, available on iTunes, or find the film ‘Plasticized’. You could also check out such initiatives as Two Hands or Take Three.
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