Plastic comes in all shapes and forms, one of the most common known plastic product is plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are a quick and easy solution, they're cheap to manufacture and somewhat good of quality. Yet, how could plastic bottles do so much harm to our environment?
How is plastic made?
More and more packaging is made out of plastic every day, plastic is lighter than glass and won't break when dropped. Plastic is made out of various elements including carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, and chlorine. Many plastic products are made from a type of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate also known as PET. An automated mixer combines pellets of this plastic with recycled pellets. After PET is recycled it loses some of its properties, making the mixture unable to have more than 10% of recyclables. From there the mixture of pellets is heated up to an unbelievable 315 degrees celsius (roughly 600 degrees Fahrenheit). Therefore the PET mixture melts into a gooey liquid form of plastic. Then the liquid is shot into a mold, making something called preforms that will soon be turned into single use plastic bottles. The preforms are almost like a rough draft because they aren't finished yet and still need to be shaped into their final form. The preforms are then slightly heated up for them to be malleable, in able to be shaped. Air is then blown into the preforms making them into the shape of a bottle. The finished bottles then get transferred into the packaging area, after that they are shipped off.
Photo credits: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswprw
How does this hurt and affect marine life?
Beaches are covered in plastic nowadays, whether it's on the shore or in the ocean it's undeniable. We have a plastic problem, some beaches like Vietnam's Da Loc beach almost has more plastic than sand covering the land. The beach used to be peaceful and clean until plastic started to cover the surface. At other beaches, local authorities have been forced to close beaches in able to get a handle on the mountains of trash. Some of the plastic covering sand will get washed up into the ocean, not just hurting our sandy shores and clear pristine water but the ecosystem as a whole. Plastic is non-biodegradable, every year almost 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans. Only 10 percent of plastic produced is recycled and 12% is incinerated according to https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-much-plastic-is-in-the-ocean.html. When plastic is swept into the ocean it can break up into thousands of tiny little pieces called microplastics. Wildlife can then mistake it for food, floating rubbish can be mistaken for fish by birds as well. When an animal eats plastic it can cause internal blockages in the digestive system, which can lead to death. Secondly, when a marine animal eats plastic they feel full this causes them to starve, again leading to death.
Photo Credits: https://thefisheriesblog.com/2014/04/06/plastic-trash-is-an-increasing-but-preventable-hazard-to-fish-health/
What can we do?
It's up to us to make a difference and stop the plastic pollution, saving marine life. Here are some ways to reduce your plastic usage.
-Stop using plastic bags, try fabric bags instead!
-Bye bye bottled water! A better alternative is a reusable metal bottle. Only like purified water? Try out a filter!
-Say goodbye to plasticware. Use your own utensils or reuse the plastic ones!
-Microbeads in your skincare are a no!
-Bring your own containers to grocery stores! Many stores have sections allowing you to fill your own bag and containers.
-Some coffee shops let you bring your own cup, most places even give you a discount if you do! Why not save the planet and money?
Here are some reusable products you could buy!
-Beeswax wrappers, a great alternative to sandwich bags
-Glass containers, better than plastic ones!
-Metal forks and spoons, lasts almost forever!!
-Metal olive oil spray bottle, instead of buying a new bottle every week just refill it!
-Metal water bottle, way better than plastic!
-A cloth face mask, a cheaper and more effective alternative than the disposable ones.
Anymore ideas? Comment down below!
- A single shower involving a microplastic scrub can result in over 100,000 plastic particles in the ocean.
-You could drive 1 mile with the amount of petroleum used to produce 14 plastic bags.
-If one person uses 1 reusable bag they can save up to 300 plastic bags within a year!
-It takes 3 times the amount of water in a plastic bottle to produce the bottle itself.
-If one person replaces their plastic bottle consumption with a reusable one, that could save over 150 bottles in a year.
Want to learn more? Check out these JAWsome sources!