The Devastating Effects of Plastic

The Devastating Effects of Plastic

In the modern world, it's difficult to escape the presence of plastic. From the packaging of our groceries, to the bottles we drink from, plastic has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives. Despite its convenience, the environmental cost of our level of plastic consumption is becoming increasingly evident. The time has come for us to acknowledge the urgency of embracing sustainable alternatives for the sake of our planet and future generations.

Plastic pollution is a global crisis that affects every corner of the Earth. From the deepest parts of the Mariana Trench to the highest peaks of Mount Everest, plastic waste is wreaking havoc on ecosystems and wildlife. Marine animals mistake plastic debris for food, leading to injury and death through ingestion or entanglement. Microplastics (tiny particles resulting from the breakdown of larger plastic items) have permeated even the most remote environments, posing a threat to marine life and entering the human food chain. Microplastics have already been discovered in human blood and organs, including the brain. Many plastic products touted as "biodegradable" leave microplastics as waste.

Science daily

National Geographic

Marine Debris Program

ACS Chemistry for life

The production and disposal of plastics contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The extraction of fossil fuels (mainly oil and natural gas) to manufacture plastic, releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Additionally, plastic production relies heavily on non-renewable resources, exacerbating resource depletion and environmental degradation. Petrochemicals, a byproduct of fossil fuel production, can lead to long list of serious health complications, including but not limited to, infertility, cancer and cardio vascular disease. These compounds are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), meaning they can interfere with and block hormones that our bodies depend on for normal function.

University of California San Francisco

To mitigate the adverse effects of plastic pollution, we must all prioritize the reduction of plastic use wherever and whenever possible. The benefits speak for themselves:

1. Protecting Marine Life: By reducing plastic consumption and waste, we can help safeguard marine ecosystems and the countless species that depend on them for survival. Less plastic in our waterways means fewer marine animals harmed by ingestion, entanglement, habitat destruction and effects of petrochemicals and additives. Reducing the disruption of a delicate ecosystem will yield incredible results. This is not to even mention the contaminants and pH fluctuations plastics cause.

2. Preserving Natural Resources: Plastic production relies on finite resources such as fossil fuels, which contribute to environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. By reducing plastic demand, we can alleviate pressure on these resources and promote more sustainable alternatives. Less demand on these products can also influence the industries and systems that produce them, potentially leading to significant change.

3. Mitigating Climate Change: The production, transportation, and disposal of plastic generate greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. By curbing plastic consumption, we can reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate the impacts of climate change on both local and global scales.

4. Promoting Human Health: Plastic pollution is not only harmful to wildlife but also poses risks to human health. Chemical additives in plastics, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, can leach into food and water, potentially causing adverse health effects. Not to even mention the additional toxic contaminants found in recycled plastics. By reducing plastic use, we can minimize exposure to these harmful substances and protect public health.

5. Fostering Innovation: Embracing alternatives to plastic encourages innovation and technological advancement in sustainable materials and packaging. By investing in research and development of biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable alternatives, we can create a more sustainable economy that minimizes waste and maximizes resource efficiency. Changing our thought processes and priorities can lead to exponential change.

Taking action to reduce plastic use may seem daunting, but small changes in our daily habits can make a significant difference. We must, however, recognize the responsibility of large corporations and the packaging/products they produce as the single largest factor. Though here are some practical steps we can take as individuals to reduce our plastic footprint:

Choose Reusable Alternatives: Opt for reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and containers instead of single-use plastic items. When considering purchasing products, look at the materials they're made of. Is there a non plastic alternative?

Avoid Excess Packaging: Purchase products with minimal packaging or choose package-free options when possible. Root Nerds is committed to sourcing more eco friendly packaging and shipping materials for our new generation of products. As a growing small business, the cost and shelf life of eco friendly products can be prohibitive. Currently, we only utilize 3.75 oz of plastic in our products, packaging and shipping material combined for each Aurora+ and Expansion Pack set. Packaging used for the components that our manufacturer purchases are reused when the finished products are shipped to us. Root Nerds then reuses the same packaging once more to ensure the safety of our products when shipped to our customers. Reusing plastics originally intended as single use is another way to contribute.

Recycle Responsibly: Properly dispose of plastic waste by recycling it according to local guidelines. Additionally, support initiatives that promote plastic recycling and waste management. Unfortunately, only 9% of plastics are recycled and the materials generated from these recycled plastics can have additional toxic contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Putting these materials in the hands of recycling services is far better than seeing them end up in landfills or waterways, contaminating ground water.

Support New Legislation and Policy Changes: Advocate for policies and regulations that promote plastic reduction, such as bans on single-use plastics and small business incentives for sustainable packaging alternatives. Holding large corporations responsible is essential.

Educate and Raise Awareness: Spread knowledge about the environmental impacts of plastic pollution and inspire others to join the movement toward reducing plastic use. Highlight and support eco friendly products and businesses making efforts to reduce their impact on the environment.

The urgency of reducing plastic use cannot be overstated. As a modern society and stewards of this planet, it is our responsibility to take action to mitigate the environmental and societal impacts of pollution. By embracing sustainable alternatives and advocating for systemic change, we can create a healthier, more resilient planet for current and future generations.


Photo by Yogendra Singh:

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