Why plastic

Recently, while shopping, I stumbled upon the Stern ‘View’ magazine, that special edition featuring the best animal pictures of all times as it’s cover promises. And it’s really a nice magazine including so much gorgeous pictures and related stories. But the one article that really blew my mind was one article about one dead baby albatross. This baby albatross died of plastic since his parents wasn’t able to distinguish plastic litter from food. The article was accompanied by two pictures showing the dead albatross baby and the contents of his stomach he died of. No need to mention that this was all plastic litter.

Plastic(litter) strains our environment
In order to share this article i started an online search for it. Well, this article is not available online and it took me some time to realize it. And while searching for this special article i found lots of other news that weren’t any better than the one I was looking for. Did you ever do a newsserach for ‘plastic’? I did. Just so that you get my point I’ll show the search results I received.
I got 10 search results, two of them mentioned goods, that are available in plastic now (table tennis balls and the HTC one M8) and these 8 articles: (Sorry, I translated the headlines, but all articles linked are in german)
Plastic instead of plankton : Garbage-continents float in the oceans
Nearly half of it is plastic: Garbage everywhere on european ocean floor
More plastic than juvenile fish in the Danube
EU-Parliament strives to reduce plastic garbage
Garbaging of the oceans
Polluted oceans: Search for wreckage between plastic garbage and ghost fishing nets
European oceans are world’s largest dumping grounds – Plastic-garbage already reached Arctic-Zone
Garbage in the oceans: garbaged oceans
I think this is a really sad and disturbing search result.

But we separate our garbage so that it can be recycled…
Yes, and that’s a good thing. But do we really need all that plastic, parts of it only produced to be used for some minutes (like carrying home our daily shopping) and then being trashed?
“The amount of plastic garbage in germany in the period from 1994 to 2011 nearly doubled from 2.8 to about 5.5 millions of tons per year, mainly because of an increase of garbage from end-consumers. This corresponds roughly to the weight of two Pyramids of Cheops. Only 42 percent of this plastic garbage are recycled. 52 percent are burned and thus are lost to the recycling management.” (Source: bund.net).
Additionally, only packaging materials are intended for the recycling bin. The old toothbrush, plastic toys, the handle of the broken frying pan and the used lighter is not intended for the recycling bin. Just to name some examples.
Furthermore, recycling of plastic is not that easy so that in most cases for the production of new goods the use of newly generated plastic is even cheaper.

Es ist nicht leicht einkaufen zu gehen, wenn man Plastik vermeiden möchte

It’s not easy to go shopping if you want to restrain from plastics

Plastic modifies our nourishments
Plastic is an issue for me since i saw the film Plastic Planet. In particular in tandem with nourishments this docu was really disturbing, thats why I try to keep plastics away from food already for a while. To give an really short impression i also did a search for ‘plastic food’ and these are the first hits I got (again, headlines translated, but all articles linked are in german):
Underestimated threat: Plasticparticles contaminates nourishments
Plasticizer in Plastic
Plasticparticles found not only in nourishments but also in the air!
Plasticpackaging: noxious for nourishments?

Microplasticparticles can’t be filtered out of the water
The BUND runs some campaigns (I’m tempted to say ‘against plastic’) for a consciuos dealing with plastics. They also call attention for a matter I didn’t mention before: Microplastics. Smallest plasticparticles, that are among other things mixed into cosmeticas (i.e. microdermabrasion, toothpaste). Ater use those particles end up in our wastewater, but with today’s procedures it’s not possible to filter them out again and thus get into our drinking water and our environment. Hence it isn’t surprising that plasticparticles were found in honey already.
The BUND also provides a list with all known (german) cosmetica containing microplastic.

So whats my point now?
I think I could go on like this for a while but I hope you already got an idea about what I’m up to:
Plastic isn’t good for us and our environment and we have to rethink!
I don’t want to say ‘don’t buy any plastics from now on and get rid of all the plastics you got’. NO.
Trashing all the plastic wouldn’t help at all and seriously, I don’t believe it’s possible in our todays society to stop buying plastic.
But it is possible get aware of the problem and to try to handle it reasonable.

But how?
I think everybody has to find his own way. But for those who are looking for some inspiration I wanna share some experience.
Most important thing first: trying to change all at once is overwhelming, at the latest when trying to go shopping for dinner. It’s much easier to change one little habit and after getting used to it changing another one. Here some thing we already changed:
* Always have a bag with you (so you don’t have to take plastic bags you throw away no later than coming home)
* Buy fruits/vegetables loosely
* Restrain from cosmeticas, that contain microplastics
* Don’t buy things that are packaged needless (i.e. shrink-wrapped cucumbers (wtf??))
* Buy beverages in glassbottles
* Buy lunchmeat at the counter
* Buy bread from the baker, uncut, so you get it in a paper bag.
Maybe you have some more easy-to-realize ideas?? I’d love to hear them 🙂

2 thoughts on “Why plastic

  1. Why not plastic? Plastic can be fairly easily recycled and made into new products. There’s some great examples of .

    • Actually thats not completely true. First of all the plastics have to end up in the right bin so that they might get recycled. Already this is not always the case. But if this happend it’s also no guaranty since the disposer fairly often just go the cheapest way, on so the stuff just get’s burnt.
      When getting to the cases when the plastic actually get’s recycled it in fact only get’s downcycled. Since there is not only ‘the plastic’, there is a wide range of kinds and ingredients, and since it’s not known to the recycler what originally has been used when produced, the range of things he may do with it is limited.
      But just the waste is not the only problem, it’s also about the absurd amount of resources that has to be used to get the oil, and to move it, to transform it to plastic and move it again, and so on.
      And last but not least, and that was the initial point to me, is that plastic leaks substances to food that are similar to hormones.

      If you are interested in the topic you might want to look the film ‘plastic planet’ it gives a nice introduction to some of these disturbing points (but without even touching the waste topic as far as i remember)

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