The word "plastic" has become something of a profanity in the 21st century. We're constantly bombarded with information about how plastic is killing the planet. We're urged to do our bit to help the environment by choosing sustainable alternatives, get rid of plastic or to at least recycle the plastic we do use. And we've all seen the heartbreaking videos of sea turtles with plastic straws up their noses and huge rafts of plastic bags floating across the Pacific ocean.
But - and here's a controversial question - is plastic bad? Is it really the scourge of the modern age and the bringer of environmental doom?
Before you go all "keyboard warrior" and fire off a strongly-worded email... let us clarify. The Natural French Soap Company is wholeheartedly against the wasteful, harmful use of disposable plastic. But reusable plastic (such as storage boxes, children's furniture and the like) is not necessarily bad for the environment. There's a marked difference between single-use plastic, recyclable plastic and reusable plastic that can serve us for years.
SOOO... WHAT'S THE DEAL? IS PLASTIC BAD OR NOT?
The plastic debate can be a bit of a head-scratcher. On the one hand, there are the horror-story stats like "there are 5.25 trillion pieces of waste plastic in the oceans!!" and "the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now three times the size of France!!" (yikes).
On the other side of the debate are the people who take a long, hard look at their lifestyle, think "what can I do to become part of the solution?" and then make positive changes.
Looking at the pros and cons of plastic (yes, there are some pros) can help us understand the bigger picture.
THE PROS OF PLASTIC
- It's cheap to manufacture
- It's lightweight and transportable
- In general, it's easily recyclable
- It's suitable for many different uses, from food packaging to pens to clothes hangers
- Sturdy plastic items like boxes can last for many years and therefore be infinitely reused
THE CONS OF PLASTIC
- It's a wasteful material on many levels
- The manufacture of plastic is a major contributor to climate change
- It's made from petrochemicals which pollute the air during the manufacturing process
- Single-use plastic ends up in landfill or in the sea; only a small percentage is recycled
- Plastic breaks down into micro-plastics which enter the food chain - from fish to humans