Decades ago, synthetic polymers became popular because they were cheap and durable. Now, scientists are creating material that self-destructs or breaks down for reuse on command.
They’re harmful to health, environment, and human rights—and now poised to dominate this century as an unchecked cause of climate change.
If it seems like plastic is everywhere, that’s because it is. But there are easy ways to limit your exposure.
While we can all agree that plastics have provided numerous benefits in the areas of hygiene, versatility, insulation and convenience, their disposal and the gas emissions generated to produce them are at the top of the industry’s agenda.
COVID-19 is changing how the U.S. disposes of waste. It is also threatening hard-fought victories that restricted or eliminated single-use disposable items, especially plastic, in cities and towns across the nation.
A new report shows that a surprisingly small number of big companies and banks are behind the manufacturing and financing of much of the world’s single-use plastic.
To select the plastics that are best for your children and for the environment, get to know the easy-to-identify plastic recycling codes you’ll usually find on the underside of the bottle or packaging. Look for these numbers and symbols before you buy. The safer plastic choices are coded 1, 2, 4, and 5. Try to avoid 3, 6, and most plastics labeled with number 7.
The impacts to our bodies remain murky, but early findings suggest the smallest bits could cause harm.
Single-use plastics are all over the front lines of the Covid-19 response.
If human civilization were to be destroyed and its cities wiped off the map, there would be an easy way for future intelligent life-forms to know when the mid-20th century began: plastic.
Shortly after a study revealed that there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, another troubling report says humans have polluted oceans so much that plastic is now a part of our diet.
There’s a good chance much of what you ingested was packaged, stored, heated, lined, or served in plastic. And unfortunately, there’s mounting scientific evidence that these plastics are harming our health, from as early as our time in our mother’s womb.
As a planet and a species, we are awash in plastic. But just 60 years ago, it hardly existed. In 1955, LIFE magazine ran an article titled “Throwaway Living: Disposable items cut down on household chores.” It featured a full-page photograph of a cheerful young white man and woman tossing plastic plates and forks into the air.
It is remarkable how far we have already come in the effort to reduce our plastic pollution. We are rapidly reaching the point at which the relevant question is not “which plastics can we do without?”, but “which single-use plastics do we genuinely need?”
We still don’t know the true impact of these microplastics on human health. But the good news is, having hard floors, using more natural fibres in clothing, furnishings and homewares, along with vacuuming at least weekly can reduce your exposure.
The omnipresent plastic is rife in dust, rice, placentas and tap water, but experts say it’s hard to untangle whether it’s harmful to humans.
Plastics have for years been used to make nearly everything that surrounds us. But along the way, they escaped the confines of packaging and objects and settled in the environment, the food we eat and the air we breathe.
Health gurus claim chemicals—not calories—are the cause of obesity.
With wood glucose, it forms a tough, flexible, and biodegradable material.
Sadly, we recycle only 9% of all the plastic products we ever use. Worse however, is that almost all of these plastic items, which we toss into the trash, are single-use plastics, designed to be used only once before they are thrown into the trash where they will persist in the environment for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, or more.
Plastics are everywhere and so is BPA. Is it a real environmental hazard or just another scare?
Since plastic was first synthesized in the early 1900s, it has evolved into everything from lifesaving medical devices to a softening agent in hair conditioner. Plastic is ubiquitous but there are two chemicals in it to watch out for when it comes to what your body ingests.
New research shows plastic pollution isn’t limited to the ocean and landfills. It’s all around us and people are eating and drinking it.
Researchers aren't sure yet what it means for human health.
Despite being one of the most pervasive materials on the planet, plastic and its impact on human health remain poorly understood. Yet exposure to plastic is expanding into new areas of the environment and food chain as existing plastic products fragment into smaller particles and concentrate toxic chemicals. As plastic production increases, this exposure will only grow.
Plastic has indeed completely transformed our lives—everything from modern medicine to food safety has been made possible by its fantastic and varied properties.
Freedom in the United States has never been freedom to do absolutely anything. So none of us should get too bent out of shape by cities finally choosing measures to reduce municipal solid waste.
Just telling people to give up convenient and affordable products and services isn't enough. Sure, some people will (and do) give up plastics, live a zero-waste life and even become advocates but fundamental change requires bigger ideas.
In fact, not only do the toxins in plastic affect the ocean, but acting like sponges, they soak up other toxins from outside sources before entering the ocean. As these chemicals are ingested by animals in the ocean, this is not good for humans. We as humans ingest contaminated fish and mammals.
All the plastic from food deliveries and online shopping is piling up. But as a group of experts point out, disposable plastics aren’t inherently safer when it comes to possible virus transmission.
Microfibers from synthetic clothing can make their way into seafood and drinking water every time the garments are washed.
Microplastics interest me because they are now turning up everywhere and we know virtually nothing about how they might impact human health. So are these tiny pieces of plastic damaging our bodies?
Plastic is polluting our oceans, killing wildlife, and damaging our health, and there are widespread calls to get rid of it. But it isn’t as simple as wishing the pervasive material away.
To my surprise, the challenge wasn’t insurmountable. Sure, I struggled at times; but overall, I found it doable and liberating. I also saved some money and might’ve even inspired some friends in the process. Here are the guidelines I set for myself...
With more and more alarm bells ringing about the suspected health risks that plastic poses, new scientific research is needed now more than ever. That’s why the Plastic Soup Foundation has created a new research and advocacy alliance: the Plastic Health Coalition. With this coalition, various national and international environmental and research organisations have joined forces to encourage, enhance, and disseminate scientific research into the health effects of plastic.
Plastics may actually be co-opted to help reduce harm to the environment -- but only if we stop screwing it up in all those other ways we mess with it.
Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. Will you be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics?
Stop the plastic soup tsunami as soon as possible! If we do not achieve this, we are leaving future generations with a terrible plastic plague. We are a ‘single issue’ environmental organization that is concerned with one thing: stopping plastic pollution at its source.
Plasticisers (US: plasticizers) are chemical substances essential to soften PVC, also known as vinyl, and make flexible and durable goods such as floors, cables and wall coverings. They include a large and diverse number of substances with very different properties, uses, classification and legal requirements.