Some Facts about Plastic
The first synthetic (entirely man made) plastic was produced over 100 years ago by a chemist (Leo Baekeland).
Plastic is cheap to make compared to many other materials and is used in lots of things pens, clothes, computers, hard hats, car parts, bags, equipment for hospitals ….
The problem is that 1/2 the plastic that is made is only used once and then thrown away like balloons, straws, food packaging and drink bottles. A lot of this plastic ends up in landfills or floating around in the ocean. Many plastics can take a very long time to breakdown:-
A plastic bottle – 450 years
A plastic bag – 1000 years
How BIG is the problem?
According to The Guardian newspaper 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been made since 1950 – that is the same weight as 143 x Great Wall of China – (This wall is so big that it can actually be seen from space).
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.
Almost 3/4 of all the litter on beaches around the world is made of plastic.
When plastic breaks down it can release dangerous chemicals that are bad for animals and the Earth.
Plastic litter found in the rivers and ocean can hurt the creatures that live there – sea turtles, fishes and birds sometimes gobble up bits of plastic because they think it is food and it can make them very sick.
What can YOU do to help?
TOCK was pleased to learn that there are lots of ways you can help. Here are just a few:-
- Use reusable water bottle (perhaps made from stainless steel) – instead of buying a bottle of water, fill up your reusable bottle from the tap – you’ll produce less plastic waste and save some money too!
- Use reusable carrier bags when going shopping
- Say NO to plastic straws – if you need a straw use reusable straws made from bamboo or metal
- Avoid plastic packaging in your lunch box – use reusable containers or beeswax wraps
- Never litter – sometimes you may have to use plastic but you should always reuse and recycle whenever you can. Rubbish left on the ground can often blow into ponds and rivers and eventually make its way into the ocean and sea.
- When you go shopping try and get your family to shop for snacks, pasta etc. in bulk and try to avoid things that have a lot of plastic packaging on them – buy loose fruit and vegetables.
We now use about 20 times more plastic than we did 50 years ago. Therefore, it is important that we Reuse and Recycle plastic as much as possible.
Recycling just 1 plastic bottle saves the energy to run a 60w light bulb for 6 hours.
What can recycled plastic be made into?
- bin liners and carrier bags
- new plastic bottles
- video and compact disc cassette cases
- seed trays
- fleece jackets – takes 25 plastic bottles to make an adult fleece jacket
- fibre filling for sleeping bags and duvets – it takes 114 bottles to make the filling for a sleeping bag
- t-shirts – it takes about 10 bottles to make a cool new t-shirt
Don’t forget to check out some creative ways you can reuse plastic containers and bottles. Simply click on the following pictures:-