The Problem with Plastics - Part 1

The Problem with Plastics - Part 1

The Problem with Plastics - Part 1

Single use plastics

Since the famous line from the 1967 film,“The Graduate,” in which Dustin Hoffman’s character, Ben, is told the future is “one word, plastics,” single use plastics have become ubiquitous in our environment. First invented in 1907, plastics were not heavily in rotation until the 1940’s when they were used to in place of natural materials for parachutes, helmets and airplanes for use in WWII. By the 1970s plastic was being used more than steel.  At that point no one understood what a problem plastics would become. Plastic is durable, inexpensive, and convenient. The issue is that plastic can take up to 1000 years to degrade which leaves thousands of tons of plastics being dumped into our oceans and landfills every year. Sadly, under 10% of the plastic even gets recycled. 50% of that plastic is from single-use options.

So, what can we do? The answer is simple. Reduce the use of single-use plastics and choose more reusable or biodegradable options.

Reusable/biodegradable bags

This has become more normalized in our culture. In fact, New York passed a bill in October of 2019 to ban their use with the exception of bags for produce, meat, fish, newspapers and restaurant take-out food. This is a great step, but we can go further. 

  1. Bring our own bags for produce like these made by the Net Zero company. 
  2. Use washable silicone bags for snacks and lunch boxes like these from Stasher Bag. 
  3. Another approach for snacks and lunchbox items are wax paper bags like these from Reynolds.
  4. For more responsible trash bags there are compostable options on the market like these ones from Hefty.

Use reusable drink containers

Buying a bottle in the market is convenient, but the impact is devastating. 500 billion plastic bottles are used every year with 60 million bottles being thrown away in America every day.

  1. Use reusable water bottles like this metal one from Swell or glass ones like this from Life Factory.
  2. Instead of having your coffee to-go in one of your local coffee shop’s disposable containers bring your own! Like these tumblers and travel mugs from Swell or these ones from Hydroflask.

Sustainable disposable cutlery

Instead of those plastic forks and knives that you use for 10 minutes and then end up in the ocean for 1000 years, use ones that are biodegradable and sustainable.

  1. These ones made by Urthpact are biodegradable 
  2. Or like these sustainable bamboo ones from Guud Products.

Making these small changes can make a giant impact on our environment. The little choices we make every day can add up to a healthier future.

This blog is a collaboration by

Dr. Morrison and Tapp Francke.