The Problem With Plastic

Growing up I would microwave my Chinese takeout in Styrofoam, load up plastic Tupperware with leftovers, eat individual plastic wrapped snacks with lunch, and grab water bottles on the golf course. Of course, I would throw all of this into a landfill without a second thought. But, I also didn’t realize the harm I was causing my body. As I’ve switched to a zero waste lifestyle, I cringe at my younger self. I’ve tried to ditch most plastic in the house, but occasionally I thought if I was going to reuse it – it would be ok. But, I forgot how cheap plastic is.

The problem with plastic from www.goingzerowaste.com

Justin really wanted to make some popsicles which sounded like a marvelous idea for summer. I knew we would probably only use them once or twice, and I didn’t feel the need to splurge on these gorgeous stainless steel ones from Life Without Plastic. I was at the store and saw some of the traditional plastic popsicle makers. Justin got excited and I thought, why not? If we’re only going to use it once or twice. It’ll be OK. Well, it broke the first time we used it. Now, I’m left with a mostly unusable popsicle tray that’s headed straight for the landfill.

I would have been so much better off buying the stainless steel one. At the time, I thought I would have to buy regular popsicle sticks. I just noticed that Life Without Plastic sells reusable bamboo popsicle sticks.

Popsicle Maker

So, I’ve been thinking… what is plastic? Well it’s derived from oil, natural gas, and coal. In order to achieve its level flexibility there are certain chemical additives used in the manufacturing process. Some of the more familiar ones include BPA, BPS, and phthalates. All of which, are endocrine interrupters. They have been linked to reproductive abnormalities, impaired brain function, cancer, diabetes, obesity, early puberty, genetic and neurological damage to babies and toddlers, miscarriage, and resistance to chemotherapy. Did you know receipts are now made with BPA? It’s recommended that pregnant women not touch receipts. Isn’t that terrifying?

We’re also seeing an onslaught of obese animals in the wild. Their diet hasn’t changed. You know what changed? Their level of interaction with plastic. Microbeads and plastic fill waterways; litter and plastic pollution are becoming a huge problem.  

Not to mention, that plastic uses vital non-renewable natural resources that could be put to better use elsewhere. 10% of our oil production is for plastic. The manufacturing process uses tons of energy, pollutes the air with incineration and plastic particles, and exposes workers to toxic chemicals. Most of the plastic we consume will wind up in a landfill or in the ocean. It will never biodegrade. It will only break down into smaller pieces making it even more of a hazard for wildlife and for us. There are plastic particles in the air we’re breathing right now.

This may sound super depressing. But, it’s good to be informed! Now, you can start making better choices. Even if you’re not ready to embrace a zero waste life style there is so much you can do to stop buying plastic. Opt for things in paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, or glass. Look for natural fabrics like wool, cotton, hemp, silk, and linen. When you purchase something, you’re effectively saying, “Yes, make more of this.” We need to start voting with our dollars. We can say, “Please make more stainless steel popsicle makers,” and “Please, stop making crappy plastic popsicle makers.”  The power is in the consumers hands, our hands. We can have a healthier ocean, healthier wildlife, and a healthier us. We can make a difference; let’s say no to plastic. 

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