Over the past 60 years, society has become reliant on polycarbonate plastics that are shatter-proof, resistant to electricity and visually clear. Used for everything from power tools to baby bottles, giving up the convenience and affordability of this product is unimaginable. The pros are obvious, but do the cons merit a change?
It takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose. This means that every piece of plastic that has ever been produced is still with us, either buried beneath the earth or floating in the ocean. Considering the fact that billions of pounds of plastics are manufactured and thrown away each year, our planet will soon become the trash capitol of the galaxy. Recycling is an option but only 5% of this waste is currently being captured and processed.
Sooner or later, plastic finds its way to the ocean and have a devastating effect on ocean life. Over 44% of all seabird species and 22% of all cetaceans have been found to hold some form of discarded plastic in or around their bodies. A research group from the University of British Columbia discovered in 2009 that 92.5% of all beached northern fulmars were filled with plastic. One bird was reported to have 454 different pieces of plastic contained in its stomach.
Importance of Health
The negative effects of our land and water are not the only concerns that plastic raises. It wasn’t until the 1990s that scientists discovered the leaching of BPA (Bisphenol A) and the contributing factor in numerous physical ailments to the human body. Liver damage, reproductive problems, asthma and cancer are some of the health problems directly caused by BPA exposure. By this time, plastics had taken over the world as a major player in the world of manufacturing and every day life.
Writing off the low percentage of BPA contained in plastics is no longer relevant with the huge amount of plastic that wraps around our lives. Flooring, a flame retardant ingredient in clothing, metal can lining and more, puts us in direct contact with plastic, raising the constant level of exposure.
The cons of polycarbonate plastics can no longer be ignored, and there is an option that is gaining momentum as a solution. Hemp fibers have the ability to produce a bio-based plastic that limits or replaces the need for petroleum and toxic chemicals. Watch for products labeled eco-plastic or biodegradable hemp plastic in the future.