Why you should quit plastic
Hey internet folks! As a sustainability content creator, it is unsurprising, perhaps expected that I don't encourage plastic usage. A large part of the sustainability movement is low waste (including myself), however, I think we should go one step further and quit all plastic, including reusable plastic. Here's why:
1- Plastic is toxic
Yes, all plastic is toxic, including BPA certified plastic. Reusable plastic is a good alternative to single use plastic, however, it still can release heavy metals, flame retardants, phthalates (glad I don't have to say that aloud!), bisphenols, flourinated chemicals which are all toxins. There is also an urban myth that reusable plastic contains dioxins (a carcinogen) but research is unclear on this area. Still, toxins aren't great for your health.
2- Plastic production is an intersectional issue but disproportionately affects BIPOC communities
Plastic production is often associated with harmful chemicals, such as the vinyl chloride leak in Ohio. However, the harmful chemicals associated with plastic production often affect the BIPOC community more as disproportionately BIPOC communities are oftentimes located near plastic production plants. Additionally, plastic production plants release particulate matter, which increases the cancer risk amongst largely BIPOC communities.
3- Plastics are made from hydrocarbons
Hydrocarbons are typically extracted from deep underground before they are converted into plastic products. Hydrocarbons come from oil. Not great.
4- Plastics are hard to recycle
There are thousands of types of plastic and they all are recycled differently. It takes too long for plastics to be sorted and recycled separately, so they often end up in the ocean or in landfills and then into the ocean. Additionally, Greenpeace found that the more plastic is recycled, the more toxic it becomes. Also, only 9% of plastics have been recycled.
5- Plastic is energy and resource intensive
It takes a lot of energy to create plastic, especially single- use plastic. In fact, the US Department of Energy states that 3% of energy consumption in the US goes towards producing plastics. Considering that most plastics are imported, this is a lot of energy. Producing all this plastic also emits a lot of fossil fuels.
So why should you quit plastic? Well, plastic is toxic, plastic production disproportionately affects BIPOC communities, plastic is made from hydrocarbons, plastics are hard to recycle, and plastic is energy and resource intensive. The next time you think about buying a plastic water bottle, just think for a second about the impact it has. What climate legacy do you want to leave?
Thank you for reading!