Plastics are actually one of the most dangerous products to exist on our planet. We are all surrounded by plastic products and use them every day. Plastic is convenient because it is cheap and durable, however, when it turns to waste and enters the oceans, its advantages are against us as it creates the most serious environmental problem of the 21st century.
Plastic, also known as organic synthetic polymers, was invented in 1907, and mass production began in around 1930. Since the 1950s, plastics have become vital to our lives.
Plastics have many wonderful characteristics that are not found in traditional materials such as glass and wood. For example, plastics are durable, light, and strong and it is very easy for them to change their shape. Plastics have a wide range of special characteristics, and some can resist heat and chemicals while others do not conduct electricity.
Plastic products are used in every facet of our lives, from disposable containers for food and beverages to fabrics, electric appliances, medical equipment, building materials, and more. We cannot even begin to imagine what our life would be like without plastic. That is why our generation is called the plastic generation.
The most common marine waste found floating in the ocean is a disposable plastic container, such as food containers, plastic bags, plastic bottles, and detergent containers. Between 60% and 90%, and sometimes 100%, of marine waste is plastic, and most is single-use plastic that is used only once before being thrown away (UNEP and GRID-Arendal 2016).
Actually, over 60% of marine waste consists of single-use plastics; therefore, it is the biggest source of marine waste (Hopewell et a. 2009), and the majority of single-use plastics are plastic bottles. In Australia, 33% of marine waste consists of soda and water bottles (Green Alliance).
A British think-tank notes that if we did not use plastic containers to carry our drinks, we could probably reduce one-third of plastic marine waste (Green Alliance).
In the West, people are gradually moving towards the abolition of single-use plastic. For example, single-use plastic plates will be abolished in France by January 2020 (CNN September 2016), and the sale of plastic water bottles with a capacity of less than 600 ml are prohibited in San Francisco (MSNBC March 2014).
It is needless to say that reducing single-use plastic in society as much as possible is our top priority to save the natural environment.