Plastic was considered one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. Available from the early 1900s, plastic was an absolute hit by the 1960s. It’s hard to imagine what the modern world would look like without plastic. But it turned out too good to be true.
Different kinds of plastic take anywhere between 400 and 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill. About 91% of it isn’t recycled. This means that most of the more than 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic products that have ended up as trash is still around. So much plastic is thrown away every year that it’s enough to circle the Earth four times.
We are not only hurting the environment by using so much plastic, we are damaging our own bodies and sea life. Chemicals in plastics interact with hormones and may lead to numerous health problems, including heart disease (these are the states with the most heart disease) and diabetes (these are the warning signs you might have the condition). Plastic fragments from bags, bottles and other items that are laced with chemicals can be ingested by marine animals and poison them.
As the negative environmental effects become known, the world is beginning to reconsider plastic’s usefulness. Many countries and cities are trying to deal with modern life’s dependency on the material by banning single-use plastics.
Several big companies are also trying to reduce their environmental footprint. Starbucks, for example, is selling reusable mugs for $1, which you can use to get a 10% discount off your drink.
In addition to governments and companies, individuals are thinking of ways to reduce the need for plastics. They are coming up with sustainable products – from straws to bins, bottles and even dishwashers — that change the world one piece of plastic at a time.
To compile a list of eco-friendly inventions that can replace plastics, 24/7 Tempo reviewed news stories about biodegradable products, as well as articles on sustainable inventions by nonprofit organizations known for their work to protect the environment.