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If you stop to take a look around you right now, there’s a very good chance you’ll find more than a dozen items made from plastic. If you’re reading on your computer then your hands are on plastic. Pens, water bottles, cellphone cases, bags, and even clothing are all made from plastic.
For more than a century we’ve had a love affair with plastic. We make everything from the material. From cars to electronics and even furniture, we live with plastic around us. Why do we love plastic so much? There are three primary reasons why plastic has invaded the world.
Three Reasons Why We Love Plastic So Much
1. Plastic is inexpensive
All plastics are polymers, which mean that they’re long chains of molecules. These synthetic, i.e. man-made, elements are relatively cheap to produce – much cheaper than the alternative.
For example, if you’re making a desk from wood and metal, the metal has to be forged and shaped. The wood needs to be harvested from a tree and formed into a desktop.
Both materials are natural materials that need to be acquired before they’re made into a desk. A plastic desk simply needs to be poured into a mold and then shaped. The elements that make up plastic don’t need to be harvested; they are made and the production process can be automated. A person can make fifty plastic desks in the time it takes to make one metal and wood one.
2. Plastic is lightweight, flexible and malleable
Plastic can be bent and molded into just about any shape. Think about the difference between a plastic straw and your television which is mostly plastic. The bumper on your car is probably plastic, as are the shampoo bottles in your shower. Plastic is also flexible. You can bend, squeeze, and twist many plastic items and they bounce right back into shape.
It’s also inexpensive to ship plastic products because they’re much more lightweight than the alternatives. Compare a plastic cooking pan with a ceramic or a cast iron pan and you’ll immediately see the difference in weight.
3. Plastic is durable
While plastic certainly isn’t as durable as metal or wood, it is durable enough compared to the cost. A plastic desk can last for decades. Depending on the type of plastic, it is relatively non-breakable. Think about some of the plastic items that you have – your cellphone case for example. It’s pretty durable.
We love plastic because it’s easy. Unfortunately, the reasons that we love plastic are the same reasons that it’s destroying the environment. The durable and inexpensive polymers aren’t natural and they’re abundant in the environment. It’s causing problems with our health and it’s killing wildlife. Plastic bags and bottles seem to be one of the largest problems.
Let’s take a look at the dangers of these two common products. In fact, you probably have a plastic bag and bottle in your home right now. Most people do.
The Danger of Plastic Bags and Bottles
Every time you go to the supermarket you probably come home with a plastic bag. We’re not just talking about the bags that your groceries are loaded into when you’re checking out. What about the bags that you put your produce in? Buy a half dozen apples and you put them into a plastic bag to keep them from rolling around, right?
Plastic bottles are almost as popular as plastic grocery bags. Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, only about 23 percent were recycled. That means that 38 billion water bottles find their way into landfills and oceans.
Californians use over 19 billion plastic grocery bags each year. That averages to 552 bags per person. It creates 147,038 tons of waste in the landfills and oceans.Other Details
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