Not many people know that the most common causes of cancer are hidden in plain sight, in most of our food items and cleaning chemicals etc. These products were created to make our everyday life more convenient.
Plastic behaves in a very similar way to that of cancer cells. We created it because we are always craving for things that we do not really need. The pursuit of a fast life has caused more losses than gains.
It is definitely one of the deadliest creations of consumer convenience and the cancer that could wipe us all out of existence if left unchecked. Plastic was one of those inventions that revolutionised the world, the possibilities of usage were endless. It has played a major role in bringing the world to where it is today.
The question is, at what cost?
Let’s take a look at some of the major contributions to the world, made by plastic.
•There is approximately 269,000 tons of plastic in our oceans.
•Around 1 million seabirds and 135,000 marine mammals die every year because of plastic waste.
•The yearly production of plastic worldwide has crossed 300 million+ tons, which was merely 1.5 million tons in 1950.
•In the UK alone, 4.7 billion plastic straws are used and thrown away each year.
•In many parts of the ocean worldwide, an estimated 6 times more plastic than plankton is floating around.
•By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.
•The average amount of time a plastic bag is used before it lands in the garbage is 12 minutes.
The data is startling. It really gets us to think why there isn’t a way to dispose of it. This can explained from a chemical perspective. Plastic materials are made of polymers. Polymers consist of very long chains of molecular units which in turn consist of carbon as the defining element. This is almost always combined with other elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen and in exceptional cases fluorine and chlorinealso. The long molecular chains ensure the strength and durability, and makes sure that it does not decompose in water. Polymers can also be extremely flexible and pliable, a valuable behaviour which is not provided by mineral materials, such as clay and limestone, andonly to a limited extent by metals.
Polymers are not really a human invention. Wherever robustness and shape retention but also toughness and flexibility are found in living organisms, this is down to natural polymers. Cellulose, a fibrous material made of sugar components, provides plants with their stability. Collagens and keratin are highly stable proteins – in other words, chains of amino acids – that give the skin or hair and bird feathers their stability.
It is extremely unfortunate that such a unique and innovative product is causing so much damage to our environment.