Plastic – pt 2. The Problem

As promised I am following up on my previous post Plastic. I have spent the past few weeks living my life pretty much as normal but all the while assessing my plastic use – making mental and photographic notes of it as I go.

To be honest I’m kinda speechless… plastic is literally everywhere, in everything, around everything.

I’m gonna lay it out nice (or not so nice) and real like.

PLastic collage

This is just a handful, less than a third, of the various products, food packaging and appliances made of plastic that I used in ONE DAY.

So what’s the big deal? So most of what we produce and use is in part or wholly made from plastic – what’s the problem with that? Its super useful, durable, mould-able, recyclable, lightweight, cheap and water tight.

Well, yes it is all of those things. But it is not that simple.

I’ll use a few examples from my plastic usage….


Plastic bottles. Once you start looking you see them everywhere. I have watched a few news articles and documentaries on our waste problem and I must say it is easy to think “well they just found and filmed all the extremes to try scare us”.

I have recently been to the Caribbean, the Middle East and my own back alley. I’ve seen the amount of glass in the sea, the plastic bottle beds of rivers and shrubs with more litter than leaves. I can honestly say the reality of pollution is everywhere and it is scary.

1,000,000 plastic drink bottles are bought every minute. Less than 50% are recycled. What happens to the 50% that are throw in the general waste or out the window of the car? Answer: They are polluting someone’s environment – your environment.

Tea. Now this one I find disturbing because as I have 2-3 cups of tea a day (UK average is 3 cups per day). Teabags are widely made from plant cellulose fibres and stuck together with polypropylene (otherwise known as plastic). This means that…

These types of teabags are not entirely biodegradable. Even if you put them in your compost the plastic in them, although minute, is not going to decompose and will contaminate the soil.

Although plastic has a high melting point it is known to “leak” chemicals when heated. These have been shown to absorb into our bodies, disrupt our natural hormones and cause various health problems.

Good News – In recent news PG Tips have recently released a biodegradable brand of teabag and there are many options (although not currently among the big brands) of human and environment friendly teabags on shelves in most shops. Obviously loose leaf tea = no teabag = no plastic.

And finally the humble plastic bagimagesThis is one of the thinnest types of plastic used and it is not widely recyclable through council waste systems. There are apparently over 50 different types of plastic and they require different processes in order to be recycled into another product. So even if your plastic item says recyclable – that does not mean it is always possible where you live.

Hope you have made it through all the info – longest post EVER!

The reality is that no matter what people say (and those people are usually plastic manufactures) plastic does not break down easily and safely into our natural environment. And recycling options, although extensive and growing with developing technology, are limited.

I know you have heard it before but – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – really is the best approach.

Next blog on plastic will be focused on “what can I do about it?”. I hope to be able to offer solutions to suit a range of commitment levels!


Other resources if you wanna go deeper:

  • Google something plastic you use regularly and find out what’s its impact.
  • Click on the links in txt above for more in depth articles.
  • Watch A Plastic Ocean (2016) currently available on Netflix. Very good. Highly recommend for overview on the impact of plastic around the world and specifically in the ocean. Cried at least 3 times while watching so just be aware this is really gut wrenching stuff (animals dying etc). Loved the various unique human beings featured and their passion for a certain animal or cause. Also liked the journey it takes you on – from the problem to the cause and on to possible solutions.


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