The Problem With Plastic

And it’s really in the firing line. But have you ever stopped to think about what it actually is?

Plastic is made from fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. That is, the same materials that are burned to produce power, emitting carbon emissions as they go.

Plastic water bottles, straws, kids toys and fridges are made from the same stuff that contributes to climate change. The whole life cycle of a piece of plastic causes potential harm.

With a growing population and global economy the demand for plastic increases. And so does our reliance on the world’s dwindling fossil fuels, making them even more limited.

Pollution smoke

7.7 billion

The number of single-use plastic bottles purchased across the UK each year.


The amount of plastic that has ever been recycled.


The number of different species of marine animals that have eaten or become entangled in plastic around the globe

8.3 billion tonnes

The amount of plastic that’s been produced since world’s first fully synthetic plastic (Bakelite) was invented in 1907.

This is the weight of approximately one billion elephants.

The amount of plastic waste that escapes waste collections and ends up polluting the environment.

This is the same as dumping the contents of one rubbish truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.

The amount of the UK’s plastic packaging waste that is exported to Asia and Africa. This offloads our plastic problem to other communities.

Often, these communities are developing, and the working conditions are far from what would be acceptable here in the UK.

Plastic pollution - plastic bottles on beach

Plastic Pollution

Creating plastic from fossil fuels requires large chemical processing plants which emit tons of pollutants into the air we breathe.

Many plastics contain chemical additives too. These can leach out of the plastic, getting into our food, our water and ultimately, our bodies.

Then, when we’re done, plastic hangs around for hundreds of years – or more, no-one really knows how long it takes to break down.

Plastic ends up in our local waterways and oceans, on our beaches and litters curb-sides and hedgerows across the country. That’s if it doesn’t languish in landfill, leaching it’s harmful toxins into the environment.

None of this is good for us, wildlife or the planet.

Do We Really Need to Care So Much?

The short answer is yes.

Plastic production contributes to global warming and climate change. Plastic pollution is killing our wildlife, both in the ocean and on land. It’s polluting our beaches, waterways and green spaces. Plastic pollution reaches as far as the deepest trenches of the oceans and is beginning to endanger delicate ecosystems.

All this spells disaster for the poor creatures who die because of plastic. And a disrupted ecosystem in one place, will have a knock on effect in another. How long before humans are directly harmed?

Some may say that we’re already being harmed, since plastic is now finding its way into the human food chain. The effects of which are still not fully understood.

plastic pollution on the beach
less plastic - reusable water bottle

Going Plastic Free at Home

Easy plastic swaps include carrying reusable shopping bags, drinks bottles and coffee cups. Using these will help to reduce your dependence on single-use plastics when on the go.

You can also replace common plastic items with non-plastic versions when they run out. This includes cling film, hair care products and liquid soap. Wax food wraps and shampoo, conditioner and soap bars are all far kinder to you, your wallet and the planet.

Look out for food products that have no plastic packaging. Buy loose fruit and veg rather than multi packs that are wrapped in plastic.

If you have kids, think about their toys. Wooden toys tend to last much longer, look nicer and are lovely to hand down to younger family members.

Less Plastic With the Circular Economy

Recycling should be last on our list of what to do with our plastic waste – turning it into something else is far more beneficial!

The circular economy is one where resources are kept in use for as long as possible.

It means upcycling, reusing and mending items that we’d normally just throw away.

It’s the opposite of the more common approach of make, use, dispose.

We love a plastic-free initiative, or one that makes use of upcycled plastic. Some of our favourites are below. We’d love to know yours too.

Reusing jars as a vase