Plastic – why is it a problem?
Most of us used to think of plastic as – useful, modern, innovative, clean, helpful in our daily
lives. Lately, public opinion and perception when it comes to plastic has changed –
drastically. We went ahead and deep-dived into the issue to explain for those of you who
may not already know, why plastic is such a major problem.
Today’s plastic comes in many different shapes and sizes and consists of different
mouldable polymers (semi-synthetic or synthetic chemical compounds). The first versions of
plastic were actually derived from organic materials, such as blood and egg proteins and
were used as early as 1600 BC, by some cultures. Over time the organic compounds used in
producing plastic were replaced by inorganic ones. Plastic, as we know it today, was first
introduced around 1900. Mass production of plastic started around the second world war
(between the 1940s and 1950s), following the discovery and production of a new wave of
synthetic polymers such as Polystyrene, which later led to the discovery of the well known
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the most widely used form of plastic in plastic bottles.
Plastic, as we use it today, is one of the most versatile materials on the planet, with a list of
benefits quite possibly unmatched by any other known material. Plastic is light, can be
shaped easily, it is inexpensive to produce, strong, durable, sterile, has low toxicity in its
pure forms – all in all, it sounds almost too good to be true, and unfortunately, as we have
seen recently there are the dark sides of plastics which have moved into focus in recent
While plastic has many positive and helpful traits, one of its key problems lies within a key
strength – plastic does not decompose. This means, that with plastic production at an all-
time high, we keep producing a material which we have no way of getting rid of. A large
percentage of plastic waste is not recycled correctly, meaning it ends up in landfills,
polluting our oceans and coasts, posing serious issues to our flora and fauna. Globally we
are producing over 300 million tonnes of plastic every year, 50% of which are single-use-
purpose. Out of this, 8 million tonnes of plastic waste escapes into the oceans every year.
Millions of animals die each year due to plastic, mainly due to entanglement or starvation.
Over 90% of seabirds have plastic pieces in their stomachs and an astonishing nearly 700
species have been affected by plastic.
Stopping plastic production or use completely, is unrealistic, and not the answer. Plastic
serves and will continue to serve many positive purposes. So how do we improve the
current situation? How do we limit the detrimental effect plastic waste is having on our
flora and fauna? There are several things each and every one of us can do – limiting usage of
single-use plastics is a great starting point. Let’s reuse what we can, and try to reduce our
negative impact on our planet. Bringing shopping bags with you when buying groceries,
switching to plastic-free alternatives such as organic wraps instead of cling film, refilling your
reusable water bottle instead of buying a single-use one – these are all the small things that
will make a difference.
Stay tuned for more content, we will also cover another great initiative, Repreve, in one of
our next posts.
And remember – Do Good, Feel Good!
The KARMA Team