Plastics have become synonymous with corporate profits and consumer convenience.
Corporations have become reliant upon flexible and versatile plastics to cheaply package their goods, but do so at a huge cost to the long-term health of the planet and human race. On the flip-side, consumers have grown accustomed to the on-demand convenience that plastics offer in our digital ordering economy, and are falsely comforted that we can “just recycle it” when we are done.
But the truth is, plastics are designed to be indestructible and take an average of 400 years to break down. Worse, only 9 percent of plastics are successfully recycled. In the last 50 years, plastics have quickly overwhelmed our infrastructure’s ability to dispose of them…so much so that they’re invading our own food and water supplies. Microplastics have even gone airborne, and been recently detected in the air that we breathe.
And yet, despite the increasing public awareness of plastic’s harmful impact on the environment, plastic production is on a record pace to triple by the year 2050. Oil companies (which produce the petrochemicals that plastic is made from) view plastics as a key growth market due to the decreasing demands on fuel, and the result will be nothing less than global climate change in its destructive scope.
As consumers, many of us find ourselves asking, “How can I reduce my plastic?” We know we should use less plastic, but the system is set up so that most of the goods we purchase are literally encased in it. Recycling is impossibly confusing (raise your hand if you know which of the seven plastics can be recycled?), and largely ineffective. When you consider the overwhelming statistics, it’s easy to lose hope. The plastic tide feels relentlessly strong and we lack the means, or the global will, to swim above it.
But there’s hope!
Rising out of the negativity and despair, there are eco-conscious companies that are emerging…viable business models that are providing the goods we need, in an environmentally-friendly way. Better yet, new technologies are emerging to replace traditional plastics as companies (finally) put their conscience ahead of profits.
At Unplastic Nation, we love celebrating innovation, and since our plastic pollution crisis…