Plastic

We were sold another lie and we bought it hook, line and sinker. If the kitchen sink was offered, we would have most likely bought it too. At some point in time, we were told that trees had to be saved and protected; we were cutting too many and rain forests were being devastated to satisfy our demand for paper. Despite all that, no company ever volunteered to stop the abundance of junk mail; many begged for donations to “Save the Rainforests.” Enter plastic, which was to save the day.

The first synthetic plastic (plastic made entirely from man-made materials) was created over 100 years ago. It was called Bakelite and was invented by Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland in the early 1900s.

Today, plastic is a curse and is everywhere. Americans are generating more plastic trash than ever, and very little of it gets recycled. Plastics and their byproducts are littering our cities, oceans, and waterways, and contributing to health problems in humans and animals.

Under real-world conditions like running the plastics through a dishwasher or heating them in a microwave, 95 percent tested positive for estrogenic, hormone-disrupting activity. While regular use, such as washing in a dishwasher and scratches, has been found to increase the rate of chemical leaching, heat appears to be the worst offender of all, increasing the rate of chemical transfer by up to 55-fold. Dr Mercola suggests: “At the very least, banish all plastic products (containers, plastic wrap, food wraps, etc.) from ever seeing the inside of your microwave. Even better, banish your microwave altogether.” Like I always say “microwaves are like religions, nothing good can come out of them”.

It’s thought more than 50 trillion pieces of plastic are in the world’s oceans. A plastic cigarette lighter cast out to sea will fragment into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic without breaking into simpler compounds, which scientists estimate could take hundreds of years.

The plastic tide, as it is called, does not recede. It consists of all sizes of plastics, with larger pieces taking at least 400 years to break down, into fragments known as microplastics. These and other tiny pieces of plastic, like microbeads, accumulate, forming an oceanic soup that recent estimates put at 50 trillion pieces.

Unlike the organic matter found in living things, plastics do not provide energy or nutrients to growing animals. Still, critters do eat plastic. Sea turtles and toothed whales gulp down plastic bags, mistaking them for squid. Sea birds scoop up floating plastic pellets, which can resemble fish eggs. Young albatross have been found dead from starvation, their stomachs full of plastic garbage. While feeding, adult seabirds skim floating trash with their beaks. Parent birds then regurgitate the plastic to feed their young. These plastic bits eventually kill them.

So far we can only account for 1% of the total plastic in our oceans today, which begs the question; where is the missing 99%?

(Sources: Harvard school of public health, Mercola.com, Plastic Pollution Coalition.)

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