We live in a world surrounded by plastic. Our phones, computers, TVs to almost everything we use on a daily basis has some type of plastic in them. We store our food in it, drink water from it, and even brush our teeth with it. It is cheap, convenient and versatile.
Although we use it a lot daily, how much do we actually know about this wonder material?
Plastic is made from hydro carbons found in oil and natural gas. It is created when small molecules called monomers are bonded together into chains called polymers. Different monomers, when bonded together, create different kinds of plastic. Some are soft and pliable, while some are hard and durable, while others are in between.
The benefits of plastic are unmatched by any other material. It is light, easily shaped, strong and inexpensive. Plastics ability to guard against contamination makes it useful in sterile medical environmentssuch as hospitals.
Even as a kitchenware, it offers a practical alternative to glass and ceramic dishes. It has the ability to preserve flavour and freshness when used to store food and beverages. Leak proof and child resistant plastic containers are useful for holding dangerous household products such as ammonia, bleach and other caustic cleaners.
Plastic containers are also preferred for shipping, they also provide good storage solutions at home and in the office. It seems that the benefits of using plastic are boundless.
But are they?
Although plastic is an excellent source of convenience, our obsession with plastic is loading up the planet with toxic chemicals. We’re only beginning to understand the serious consequences these substances have on health. The chemicals contained in plastic migrate into the environment when they are discarded. These chemicals are building up in our eco system and in our bodies.
When it comes to the impact on public health, the widespread usage of plastic is a big issue. There are some places that plastic just don’t belong. Our food and water shouldn’t have to touch plastic, at least not in the way it is currently manufactured.
The concern is that plastic food containers sometimes leach chemicals such as Bisphenol A into our food.
Bisphenol A also known as BPA mimics the hormone estragon and disrupts reproductive functions. Studies have linked BPA to prostate cancer, miscarriages and birth defects.
It is obvious that plastic does make sense in some contexts, but the problem is that we are not doing enough when it comes to plastic recycling. So if we do decide to continue using plastic, it is extremely important that we get familiar with recycling the product.