Leo Baekeland invented the first fully synthetic plastic in 1907 in New York. It was not until the 1960’s that this new product went into mass production. Currently, factories around the world produce over 400 million tonnes of plastic every year. At the current rate, production doubles every two decades.
As of 2015, around 6300 million tonnes of plastic were produced and only 9% were recycled. 79% of the plastic waste ended up in landfills and in nature.
Currently, 8 million tonnes of plastic is entering our oceans each year.
What can we do about it?
In short: quite a lot. Think about the daily activities that involve the use of plastics and read our list of tips on how to reduce them:
- Drinking – instead of buying disposable plastic bottles, try multi-use water bottles. You can have one for water, one for coffee and one for juice, and still, save a lot of plastic waste by eliminating the single-use bottles from your life.
- Shopping – Buy reusable shopping bags that you can use each time you go for your groceries. There are multi-use bags for vegetables and fruits that can save additional single-use plastic waste. Plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to degrade.
- Packaging – Go for products that involve the least amount of plastic packaging. If it’s a razor, take the one where you can replace the blades while keeping the handle.
- Plastic Straws – If you really need to use straws, buy multi-use bamboo or metal straws. They are perfect and eco-friendly. Refuse straws in bars and restaurants if they are plastic.
- Chewing Gum – Avoid if possible. Chewing gum is essentially flavored plastic.
- Food Containers – Buy reusable food containers instead of single-use ones. Use it when you go to restaurants for take-away food.
- Food Ordering – Unless they provide re-usable containers that you can send back at your next order, limit food ordering. It creates a lot of waste.
- Smoking – Give up smoking and help yourself and the environment. Cigarette buds are made of plastic, a non-biodegradable cellulose acetate. On top of that, they contain toxic chemicals such as
acetic acid, hexamine, arsenic, and chromium that poison our waters.
- Diapers – Billions of diapers are discarded every year. Try to use cloth diapers, they are less convenient but more eco-friendly.
- Furniture – Wood or other natural materials are better in the long term. Make sure that the wood used for the furniture comes from a sustainable source.