Good versus evil
In 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, a tale about two antagonistic personalities inhabiting the same person: one good, and the other evil.
Life and fiction often intersect, and today we have our own Jekyll and Hyde – plastic.
The story of plastic
It was in the second half of the nineteenth century that we were able to artificially produce what we now call plastic; and, in the twentieth century, once it started being produced from oil, plastic quickly became widespread.
And so, plastic entered our daily lives without us noticing it: in cars, clothes, televisions, smartphones and in health, like prosthetics or pacemakers, for example.
It’s lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to produce. In the food industry, plastic ensures good hygiene and safety standards. It is also an excellent way to reduce food waste, as it’s able to store food effectively. So far, so good.
So, what’s wrong with it?
Well, plastic is designed to last, but this quality is at the same time a menace. One single plastic bag is used, on average, 15 minutes. And the same bag will take hundreds of years to decompose.
And now, we don’t know what to do with the billions of tons not properly discarded over the past decades. Around 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year. That’s equivalent to dumping a truckload of plastic into the sea every minute.
We are polluting our planet. Plastic piles up on dumps, sewers, beaches, islands in the oceans… And when it decomposes it releases microplastics, like the ones found in many cosmetics or synthetic clothing.
But what are Microplastics?
Microplastics are often invisible to the naked eye, and can be found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the rain that waters our soil, but most importantly, in the food we eat: fish, for example are now eating microplastics that eventually will indirectly end up on our plates.
The consequences are still unpredictable. But we must change our attitude. Urgently.