Why is single-use plastic bad?

Many of us are trying to reduce our plastic usage, but what exactly is so bad about single-use plastic? In this post, I’ve rounded up six key factors that I think are the worst things about single-use plastic, from the extraction to the end result. Find out more below.

1. The extraction process

Plastic is derived from natural gases, petroleum and other harmful chemicals. To get the elements needed, they must be extracted from the earth. The extraction process is harmful to aquatic life, causes water pollution and soil contamination.

*information gathered from earthhero.com

2. Even if plastic is recycled, it can only be melted down and reused 2-3 times. 

Every time plastic is melted down, the quality of it degrades, meaning it can only be reused 2-3 times before virgin plastic has to be added back in to improve the quality.

*information gathered from Huffington Post

3. It pollutes the ocean

Experts think that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will weigh more than the amount of fish in the ocean.

*Information gathered from the BBC

4. It harms animals

Each year, 100,000 animals in the sea are killed by plastic. One in three sea turtles, and around 90% of seabirds, have eaten it.

*Information gathered from the BBC

5. We’re digesting it

The average person eats at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year. It’s estimated that some of this is consumed through bottled water and other plastic food packaging.

*Information gathered from the Guardian

6. It doesn’t biodegrade, only breaks down

As plastic isn’t a natural material, organisms cannot break it down easily. Instead, plastic slowly breaks down into smaller pieces, known as microplastics.

By making small changes to our single-use plastic consumption, we can have a big impact collectively. Start switching out single-use items for reusable options, or alternatives that are in glass, tin or cardboard. Glass & tin are infinitely recyclable so are the better option. Follow my Instagram, @elm.mcr for plastic free swaps and recommendations.

Thanks for reading. Pip x


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Elm was born out of passion for the environment and a desire for a more sustainable, way of life, without compromising on quality or time.

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