Plastic has been in use for many years across many different industries.
We use it in pretty much everything that we produce, from cars to water pipes and houses to our mobile phones and even teabags. There are so many ways we can use plastic to make our lives easier.
So, what's the problem?
Well, there are a few answers to that question.
First, there is just so much of it
Globally we go through hundreds of thousands of plastic bags, bottles and other packaging every day. And only a small percentage of it is recycled. Which means the rest of all that plastic ends up in landfills or our oceans.
Which leads me to the second answer;
Plastic won't break down, it isn't biodegradable.
Yes, it may begin to break apart after a very long time, but the plastic doesn't actually break. It becomes a kind of plastic dust that continuously absorbs and releases high concentrations of toxins into the environment - contaminating our soil, water and food chain.
Third, it's not only contaminating the food that we eat.
The sheer amount of plastic floating around in our oceans is staggering. Many birds and marine creatures inadvertently ingest plastic when they're hunting for food and it's killing thousands and thousands of them every year.
Just check out the great floating garbage patches, of which the largest - the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - is far larger than was initially thought when it was discovered in the 1980s.
So, what can you do to help the worlds plastic problem?
It might not seem like it would help much for just one person or family to switch to a plastic-free lifestyle. But, you'd be surprised. Just think about how much plastic you use in a single year.
How many plastic bags is that? What about the plastic packaging on most food products you buy when doing your shopping?
This brings me to the first way you can help.
Stop using plastic bags: They're generally one-use items that we throw straight into the bin (which ironically is just another plastic bag) once we have taken our shopping out of them. Also consider bagging your lunch in paper bags instead of plastic.
Switch to glass, cloth or paper containers: I'm pretty sure that every household has had plastic containers to store ingredients or left over foods at one point or another. We often have more of these containers than we could ever possibly use, but recycling them and switching over to an environmentally friendly container will massively reduce the amount of plastic that you waste every year.
Take your shopping package-free: Food and drink packaging accounts for a staggering amount of the plastic waste that makes it's way into our oceans and slowly kills marine animals. Consider taking a wooden or cardboard box with you when you next go shopping and choose only the products that are package-free.
Go reusable: There are plenty of items we use everyday that we could substitute with an environmentally friendly reusable version. There are reusable options across a ever growing range of products. From reusable coffee cups to reusable nappies tampons.
Buy only natural clothing: Many of the clothes that we wear was made synthetically and is absolutely full of plastic.
Avoid care products that use micro-beads: Micro-beads are used in cosmetics and care products to aid in exfoliation or cleansing. They are so small they avoid our filters and treatment plants and end up straight in the ocean where they gather together and cause the deaths of thousands of marine creatures.
If you would like to learn more about the risks of using plastic or any other chemical that may pose a risk to your health or that of our environment, you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™.