The wonder polymer plastic was first invented in 1907 by the Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland. Ever since then, humans have had a love-hate relationship with this material. On the one hand, it is one of the most versatile materials ever to be produced and on the other, it is also one of the most persistent polymers. Plastic remains on the earth for far too many years and does not allow us to bid adieu quite as fast as we would like!
The plastic problem
Most eras of the past like the stone age, bronze age, and the iron age have been named after the material that was discovered and most in use in that era. This era that we live in is supposedly called “the plastic age”. If plastic had only good uses, it would not be such a bad idea to call it that. However, plastic has been proving to be more of a bane than a boon.
Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues of the 21st century. There are 8 million tons of plastic being dumped in the ocean every year. These not only clog the waterways but also find their way inside sea life. What is worse is the smaller broken-down particles of plastic called microplastics. Microplastics now pervade everything we consume including drinking water. So much so that it has been found by WWF that we consume a credit card worth of plastic every day!
What if the plastic problem is unresolved?
Conventional plastic production is from fossil fuels which are a rapidly depleting resource. The high level of dependency on plastic as a material will result in a resource crunch if alternative cycles of manufacture are not established.
The plastic trash that is flowing into the oceans is predicted to nearly triple by 2040. If we continue this pattern of consumerism wherein we are not environmentally conscious, we could fill the world up with plastic in next to no time. China and other countries have already refused to accept any more plastic waste from the United States and other richer countries. So where is all this plastic that is currently in use and those which will be produced soon end up?
Ridding the world of plastic
Organizations and companies have now started focusing on sustainability by using substitute renewable materials to make products with similar utility. Bioplastics and other sustainable alternatives are gaining momentum now that consumers are becoming more aware of the plastic problem. Other companies take plastic waste out of the ecosystem and upcycle it into products of utility and beauty.
The problem with plastic is that it is not degradable. That means they would stay on Earth for hundreds of years. So, the next best option would be to recycle it and bring it back into the supply chain again to produce more durable products.
Using existing resources to produce something of value is the need of the hour. Although companies have a great deal of power to decide what is sold in the market and what’s not, the decision to influence the demand of certain goods lies within the hands of the consumer. Shopping from eco-conscious brands is the way forward to solving most of the environmental problems we face today.
Cleaning the plastic from the oceans one step at a time
Each year at least 100,000 animals in the sea are killed by plastic. Can you believe that one in three existing sea turtles in the ocean today has eaten a plastic bag?
Ocean cleanups can significantly reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean garbage patches. Cleaning rivers is also a good way to ensure that some of the plastic does not end up in the ocean in the first place.
More than 8 million tons of plastic bottles find their way into the oceans every year. You might have heard of the Great Pacific ocean garbage patch. This is only one of the many garbage patches in the ocean today. By the year 2050, experts feel that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Although this mammoth amount of plastic cannot be dealt with easily, what if at least some of this plastic waste could be repurposed into articles of value?
We must make a collective effort to save the oceans and other waterways from choking with plastic. To do this, we have to make sustainable switches and consume in an ecologically conscious manner.
Peppermint pebbles is a brand with a purpose. Peppermint pebbles partners with REPREVE to make sustainable swim swear from recycled plastic bottles that are collected from waterways and oceans. These bottles are chopped into flakes and transformed into chips. These chips are made into fiber which can be woven to make clothes. The REPREVE fibers have superior properties like wicking, adaptive warming and cooling, and odor control. This material is good for apparel like outdoor and activewear and to produce reliable eco-friendly swimwear that has durable quality.
The benefits of making fabric from plastic bottles are two-fold. New fabric that is manufactured with valuable natural resources is not used and what is considered “waste” is removed from the ecosystem to produce clothes of value. By using fabric made out of recycled plastic bottles, plastic polymers are given a new life. Consumers can also proudly say that they have done their bit in promoting an environmental clean-up!
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Consumers and businesses have to work together to solve the plastic problem that the world now faces. Appealing to eco-conscious consumers can make a real difference in saving the world.
As the saying goes, “One person’s waste is another’s resource.” By wearing sustainable swimwear made from recycled plastic bottles that would otherwise clog rivers or suffocate an animal, you can proudly say that you played a part in mitigating one of the biggest menaces that our generation faces.
Are we saying this is just enough? Surely not, but little acting together can be a biggest effort saving the oceans.
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