Although plastic as we know it was only introduced less than a century ago, it has quickly become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Plastics are everywhere, from light switches to automobiles to computers. Unfortunately, the increase in plastic products has had a negative impact on the environment.
While we have allowed plastic to infiltrate our lives because of the ease it provides, it also releases a slew of harmful chemicals into the environment as a result of its manufacturing and careless disposal. While recycling may help with some of these issues, the best way to protect the environment from plastics is to replace them with more environmentally friendly alternatives such as glass.
Avoiding plastic in our plastic-filled environment may be difficult. However, finding alternatives to everyday things like plastic bottles and packaging is getting easier—and this comes at a crucial time for our plastic-polluted world.
Historical Sources of Plastic
The use of natural materials having inherent plastic characteristics, such as shellac and chewing gum, sparked the development of plastics. The chemical alteration of natural materials such as nitrocellulose, rubber, galalite, and collagen was the next phase in the evolution of plastics. Finally, around 100 years ago, the wide variety of fully synthetic materials that we now know as modern plastics began to be developed:
- Alexander Parkes, who called his discovery Parkesine, developed one of the first plastics in 1855. It is currently known as celluloid.
- Between 1838 and 1872, the first polymerization of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) took place.
- Bakelite, the first true synthetic, mass-produced plastic, was invented by Belgian-American scientist Leo Baekeland in 1907.
Many new polymers have been developed since Baekeland's founding, providing a wide variety of desirable properties, and they may be found in every house, office, industry, and vehicle.
Plastic Bans in Different Countries
There is a worldwide battle against single-use plastics, especially the once-ubiquitous plastic bag. As of July 2018, at least 127 nations (out of 192 reviewed) have enacted some kind of legislation to restrict plastic bags, according to a new UN Environment and World Resources Institute study. These regulations vary from outright prohibitions in the Marshall Islands to gradual phase-outs in Moldova and Uzbekistan, as well as legislation encouraging the use of reusable bags in Romania and Vietnam.
Some countries are defying existing regulations in order to explore new and innovative approaches. They're trying to shift the blame for plastic pollution away from consumers and the government and onto the companies who manufacture it. For example, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a legislative approach in which producers must be accountable for the clean-up or recycling of their goods, has been implemented in Australia and India. EPR refers to the management of a product's possible effects throughout its life cycle, including manufacturing, distribution, use, collection, re-use, recycling, reprocessing, and disposal.
How Can We Replace Plastic?
Do you want to see less plastic in your house and in the world? Here are a few long-lasting plastic alternatives that are available everywhere.
Our day begins with plastics, the first of which is our toothbrush. When thrown in the trash and eventually dumped in a landfill, this essential item takes 400 years to decompose! It's also not something you can avoid without consequences; the chemicals produced while burning plastic are very toxic. So why not use bamboo toothbrushes instead? They last nearly as long as plastic toothbrushes (3-4 months) since they are constructed mainly of sustainable materials that disintegrate naturally (the bristles are typically made of nylon, so they aren't 100 percent biodegradable).
The plastic bag bans that have been implemented in different nations have very marginally reduced the use of plastic bags. Plastic covers are still used and discarded, mostly for grocery shopping and garbage disposal. When you go to the store, bring a reusable bag (mesh, cotton, canvas bags – there are many options currently available), which will allow you to avoid paying for the plastic bag if you have too many items to carry by hand. You'll also come across bags made entirely of vegetable waste that are fully biodegradable.
Also, most pet owners use plastic bags to pick up their pet cat or dog’s poop. Although they do this as a hygiene measure, plastic bags aren’t good for our planet, so even that needs to be replaced. Compostable dog poop bags, such as the LAIKA 100% compostable dog poop bags, are an excellent alternative. You can use these bags to pick up your dog’s poop and throw the bag in a bin. It’ll decompose itself within a few months, resulting in no harm to the Earth or environment!
Glass/Stainless-Steel Water Bottles
Invest in a decent water bottle instead of buying a bunch of plastic bottles that you'll only use till the water runs out. Because some toxic compounds seep into the drinking water and therefore into your body, long-term usage of plastic bottles is dangerous. There are plenty of stylish stainless-steel and glass bottles on the market to satisfy even the most discerning eye, and they're also long-lasting.
Try to be Eco-friendlier
By removing plastic from your life, you are not only reducing your personal contribution to waste, but you are also modeling a more sustainable lifestyle for others around you. Celebrate your achievements and help spread the word about how critical it is to rethink our everyday routines and what we expect from the companies we do business with. Companies will continue to react as demand for more sustainable business practices increases, and the huge growth in plastics usage can be reversed—the sooner, the better.