The Life Cycle of Plastics

Without we really realize it, our life is surrounded by plastic products. But, do you know where it comes from and where it ends?

Before plastics had been introduced to our civilization in the 19th century, our ancestors had used woods, metals, ivory and tortoise shells. Plastic is however non-renewable and will one day disappear from our earth, but long before that would happen, plastic has been overflowing the earth including our oceans. Wasting our living space.

Even though plastics is made from minerals, plants and hydrocarbons — unfortunately, plastics can not compose. This means when the products are no longer used, they will be thrown away and stuck on our earth for over 500 years — if not on our landfills (which is also problematic: gas emissions and intoxicating ground water) then our ocean.

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everythingconnects.org

Plastics is such a useful material and can be shaped into a lot of forms, usages, and applications — from beverage bottles, computer hardware to glue and fiber for clothing. However, it is such a problematic issue and can be a danger to not only our environment but also our mankind. Therefore we have to limit our consumption and mindfully manage the waste.

life cycle of plastics
  • Non-renewable natural materials: hydrocarbon, minerals, plants
  • Hydrocarbon: natural gas, oil, coal
  • Polymers: chain of molecules that creates plastics
  • Polymers molecules: oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, chlorine, fluorine, phosphorous, silicon
  • Kind of polymers: polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene

When plastics ended up in the ocean, it will be photo-degraded into micro parts which seem like plankton and often mistakenly eaten by marine animals. The plastic micro fragments will cause dangerous digestive problems to the marine inhabitants and if they don’t die because of it, the fishes will likely to end up on our plates. Many other forms of problems are created by plastic waste in the ocean, such as entangling ocean animals, plants and even sea birds. The garbage patch in the ocean will also rise the water level over the land.

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A recent study found that 35% of fish sampled off the West Coast had ingested plastic. Find out how you can help. Visit http://www.surfrider.org/rap.

I find it hard to imagine my future children, grandchildren and their future, so instead I imagine my own life. Do I want to be a mindful and responsible adult human being to live on this earth a little bit longer?

Do you want to be together in this with me and the rest of the world?


REFERENCE Plastics Make it PossibleOceans of Plastic Waste: When Humans Make the Waste that Nature Can’t Digest*
IMAGES Featured ImageWhat Goes in The Ocean Goes in You
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