A few weeks ago we posted about Plastic Free July, but why do campaigns such as this exist? How did plastic even end up one of the most accessible materials for us? Why are people trying to get rid of this daily staple?
Simply put, plastics were built to last. Due to their sturdiness, plastics ended up everywhere from the kitchen to the garage. Just look around your kitchen at the indefinite amount items made of plastic: baggies, to-go containers, condiment jars and bottles, coffee containers, plates, utensils. For fuel efficiency purposes, the American Chemistry Council claims that 50% of a vehicle’s volume is plastic. Owning some kind of plastic has become quite unavoidable, and what was meant as a solution for durability ended up an environmental burden.
Consider this irony, single-use items such as straws, plastic ware, to-go containers, and coffee lids are manufactured from a material that is not meant to break down. According to the New York Times article
Designing the Death of Plastic, each year, only about 10 percent of plastic actually gets recycled. That is a lot of waste mounding up in landfills and making its way to the oceans. Scientists are now working hard to develop a plastic that is “durable, but degradable on command.” The goal is to send more plastic to recycling facilities, and less to the landfill.
Science is resilient. New research and experiments respond to the demands of the population and the environment. In the meantime, we non-scientists can play a part in the change. Hop over to "What Can I Recycle?" to make sure you are recycling the proper materials. Then read the blog post "Continuing Beyond Plastic Free July" and learn how you can reduce your personal plastic use. A small change now can lead to big impacts in the future.