Sorry for the clickbait title, I couldn’t resist angering you beautiful environmentalists.
But, as much as we hate to admit, it’s true. Plastic is an amazing material, and a huge tool for modern life.
If you’ve read any of our blog posts you would assume that plastic = the enemy. But, this isn’t the case. The enemy is the way we as a society chose to use plastic, not the material itself. We use a product so durable that we don’t even really know how long it takes to degrade (let alone biodegrade), for products that we use for seconds, minutes at most (in the case of single use plastics). How no one said “hey maybe we shouldn’t do that” is beyond me but either way here we are, and now that the problem is here we need to find a solution.
So why is plastic great? Most importantly, at least in my opinion, is it’s sterile, and extremely useful for medicinal purposes. It is also durable, cheap, and easy to manufacture. Its manufacturing process is actually in many ways more environmentally friendly than its “eco” counterparts, steel for example. It can also be extremely beneficial to reduce food waste, though that is a whole other topic itself (with, in my opinion, a range of solutions that don’t have to involve plastic). If we only used plastic in the medical industry, and then found a proper method of recycling (leading to a circular economy) the world wouldn’t be so bad would it?
Except we don’t. We use it everywhere. And it’s not just plastic that’s the problem, it’s all single use products in general. I see some eco bloggers that promote using paper bags for produce, and though I am not at all shaming them, I think that promoting reusables is really where the focus should be. Especially in situations like produce, as it is (for many) such an easy swap to make. Paper bags are actually less environmentally friendly than plastic bags, because their ability to be reused is far less as they are so fragile, and because their production is environmentally damaging. They also promote further deforestation which is obviously dangerous (trees=oxygen=living (also animals)). The best option is a reusable cotton bag (there is an extensive paper online if anyone is interested in reading it contact us).
Yes we need to revert to certain old practices, learn from indigenous cultures, and stop our material driven world. But we also live in a world with 7 billion people, and what was environmentally friendly before will not necessarily work now. We are living in a time of innovation and technology, and we can use this 100% to our advantage. I truly believe that sustainability and modern life can work, in some cases better than reverting to old practices can, all they have to do is come together.
So, plastic can be a great product, let’s give it justice and use it to our advantage, where it’s needed and where it is most beneficial.
Side note: If this is making you think, okay well plastic can be good but I still want to stop using it (which is a great decision as I think it should only be used on an industrial and medicinal level) and you want to know what the best or most “eco-friendly” materials are then watch this space because we have a post on exactly that (crazy I know) comin soonnnn!