Our Chronic Issue with Plastic
Plastic exists within every aspect of our society. Whether it’d be industry, entertainment, or food, plastics reign king. And it has good reason to. It’s versatile, convenient, and durable. It’s these qualities that have allowed plastics to dominate many industries over the past century.
But it has also played the largest role in transforming our environment. Plastic waste has created unmatched levels of carbon footprint; ecologists have found plastic waste in some of the most remote places on Earth. From Mt. Everest to the Mariana Trench, plastics have had somewhat of a presence in transforming the ecosystem.
The Ocean’s New Apex Predator
Although most plastic waste ends up in landfills across developing nations, a not insignificant portion of it finds its way into our oceans. Often can you find pictures of fishing nets, plastic bottles, and even straws, getting caught on marine life. Sea turtles can often mistake plastic discarded plastic bags for jellyfish and attempt to eat them. Whether or not their attempt is successful, plastic bags can still cause major complications later on in their lives.
A piece of plastic waste getting caught around a sea animal’s throat can be extremely painful for them, if not life-threatening. Even the biggest of sea lives are not safe. Fishing nets have been found stuck around a whale's fins. These are only a small number of instances where plastic has caused harm to marine life. In reality, the damage caused to the ecosystem is unprecedented.
Even We Aren’t Safe
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic resulting from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic in commercial and product development. These microscopic plastics eventually find their way into the ocean and eventually marine life. The problem is that unlike other materials, these plastics do not decompose into tiny molecules, since plastic can take thousands of years to biodegrade. These microplastics can end up in the diet of fish in a process called biomagnification.
Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Because these pieces can continuously fragment, unable to biodegrade, they eventually become small enough that they can not be seen without a microscope. They can end up in microscopic organisms, which are then eaten by fish, which, in turn, are eaten by us humans. The prevalence of plastic in our society means that microplastics are virtually already everywhere; in our food, water, and even in our soil. Ironically, the material we created as a one-time use purpose eventually finds its way back to us.
What You Can Do
Upcycle - Finding new uses for plastic after their intended use can be vital in our efforts to prevent them from ending up in our oceans or landfills. For example, plastic bottles can be upcycled to many creative uses, such as planters or decorative art. Upcycling and creative reuse will one day become a major part in our living sustainably.
Recycle - Plastic waste can be recycled by sending them to recycling centers. There, the plastics are washed, sorted, and ground into powders, ready to be melted and recycled into something new.
Use Alternatives - Plastics aren't the only synthetic material which make our lives convenient. Paper–which takes significantly less time to biodegrade–is a suitable alternative to many of plastic’s everyday uses. Instead of using plastic bags when shopping, some supermarkets offer paper bags or even used cardboard boxes for you to carry your groceries home. Better yet, a reusable fabric bag can even eliminate waste altogether. This is just a single alternative to the endless uses of plastic which could help us reach our sustainability goals.
What We Are Doing
At Rescued Glass, we believe that upcycling glass can also benefit the environment. As upcycling is poised to play a major role in sustainable living, we are focused on bringing high-quality, upcycled glass products–such as upcycled wine bottles or upcycled wine candles–to limit our carbon footprint on the environment.