In the right context plastic is a miracle material. It’s long-lasting and light properties makes it perfect for lots of applications. Unfortunately plastic is incredibly cheap to produce which means it has become overly used. A material designed to last forever should never have become a single-use material and yet here we are, drowning in plastic.
Plastic is in every corner of the planet, even in the deepest parts of the ocean. And now it’s been found inside us and other animals causing untold damage.
And it’s just plastic litter that is the problem. Plastic production is a highly toxic process using fossil fuels. Oil refineries and plastic production plants are almost always located in the most poor and vulnerable communities where people can’t easily move away because of economic circumstances. These areas have higher rates of ill health and lower mortality, making plastic a social justice issue.
Very little of the plastic produced is recycled – only around 8% of plastic is recycled. Again this is often left to the most marginalised members of society, with much plastic shipped abroad for sorting and processing. Young children have been found to be working on toxic plastic dumps sorting our waste.
We believe in a future where plastic production is drastically reduced and the plastic that is currently in circulation is reused and recycled. Many items can already be made single-use plastic-free with little effort. We need to be finding the right materials for the job rather than just defaulting to plastic because it’s cheap and easy.
It’s not going to be easy. There are some areas where plastic does an essential job and isn’t easy to replace right now, for example the medical field where single-use plastics save lives. With that in mind we don’t think you should beat yourself up for not being completely plastic-free. For us plastic-free doesn’t mean living a perfect life where all of your trash fits in a jar. It’s a goal to aim for, and something to inform our decision making process. Ultimately it’s plastic producers and those making the lazy default plastic choice unnecessarily which bear the most responsibility and towards whom we should direct our anger and despair.