Plastic is a growing issue that is slowly getting more and more well known. We are all aware of the pictures on social media of sea life becoming entangled in fishing nets, and being suffocated by plastic bags, but what else does plastic impact; and why was it allowed to get to this stage? Well if you’re like we were, you may not know a great deal!
That was, until we wrote our book.
Why did we decide to write the book?
After many separate events that seemed to take place over a short period of time, we had what can only really be described as, a wake up call.
We are all being bombarded with how we as a species are damaging our lives (we admit we are now joining in with spreading awareness!) which was very evident during our education. Charlie did Geography at A-Level, which made the problems more evident than ever with full topics on human impact on our Earth, having the resources to start making important links. In addition, there were health scares, which lead to us contacting a family friend specialising in nutrition. This was when we first opened our eyes to alternative diets. We took some on board, but didn’t fully commit. Having grown up watching documentaries about our Earth and now seeing the degradation is is undergoing, we were starting to really understand the mess that we’re in. Then programmes on waste started to pop up, companies making reusable products, and then plastic started to drip in. With Emma listening to Charlie’s (endless!) rants on that very subject as they were showing up in her Geography course, we were being bombarded from every angle.
It was our initial interest that led to us looking into plastic in particular. It was the question of ‘If chemicals in the water can harm animals, then how can it not also impact us?’. And so it began.
As a result of what we were learning about plastic, we also finally decided to further commit to the alternative diet, which meant we were buying more fruit and veg. We started to buy our fruit and veg from a local market style shop, and loved that we had much less packaging waste- with the aim that we wouldn’t have any packaging to throw away.
We noticed that our landfill was getting lower every week, with recycling mainly consisting of cardboard and plastic. We’d heard a ‘rumour’ of recycling sometimes going to landfill, which we wanted to investigate further. We then became entangled in a web of information; information that was hard to understand at some points. Once we’d started, we couldn’t stop- weeks of research seemed to bring up nothing but horror stories, horrendous facts, and sickening reports. Throughout the research, we had passed the point of ‘blindness’ from not being told the whole truth, and had just become angered.
We had collected so much information that we couldn’t just keep it to ourselves. Our initial plan was to share the main points here on our blog, and give our friends and family a summary of what we had learnt. This changed when we saw how much information we had collected.
Throughout it all we were bombarded with endless contradictions making it seemingly impossible to find the facts. But what was clear, are the lies and confusion we are fed. It took us months to find out what we now know (and we’re still learning) and some people simply don’t have the time to compare research papers and endless articles to find the truth – something we were fortunate enough to do and should be getting anyway!
So we collected what we believe to be, the facts and relevant information, and ‘Living In A Plastic World’ was born.
An ebook that shows the journey of plastic – from its creation to being a saviour, through its abuse and problems, to the misconceptions and alternatives. We went right back to the start, to see where it all went wrong – and there are a few very disturbing things that we discovered in regards to when the impacts of plastic were actually discovered, for example.
What can you expect from the book?
Well there are seven main chapters, some with additional sections in them; Plastic, Plastic as a Saviour, The Abuse of Plastic, The Problems, The Misconceptions, The Alternatives; and Make an Impact. Throughout the book, there are pictures, extra facts, and handwritten additions. As we were writing out and explaining all of the information, we found ourselves asking questions and commenting on it all. We decided to add these in, in case it wasn’t already clear enough that we are anti-plastic!
‘Plastic’ is the introductory chapter to the book. It’s nice and short, and gives an initial fact file on the material. It briefly answers what plastic is, and we ask the question that we daringly say, most people will not be able to answer – including us initially!
We didn’t have an answer until we’d carried out our research detailed in the book. So, we have given our answer to show that with relevant information, we can make informed decisions. We hope that this proves the same for you!
‘Plastic as a Saviour’ explains the initial views on the material; these include why it was created, what that meant, and how it was produced. None of us can deny that as a material, plastic is perfect- it can be manipulated, produced at a low cost, and can be manufactured to have many desired properties.
This chapter covers why production increased, and what the first plastics were used for. It really was a saviour material, and shows that we cannot place blame on previous generations for developing it. However it was developed, and developed on a large scale- soon all was plastic.
‘The Abuse of Plastic’ is a simple chapter, but also the biggest eye opener! It is here that we find how plastic has been exploited for human need, after simply becoming the next big business opportunity. When looking back at the ‘scientific’ history of plastic, we came across some articles that were written about the impacts of it as a material.
This was the major eye opener for us- instead of addressing what had been found, production simply increased. When something was done to ‘combat’ the situation, it was for a different problem all together, and not what had been discovered years previously. It was when we read this, we realised that if we are going to make a change for the wellbeing of ourselves and our Earth, we need everyone on board.
‘The Problems’ is by far the longest chapter, which is understandable considering the mess we as a race have got our Earth into! To make it as simple as possible, we have divided the problems into sub sections- The Ingredients, Carbon Footprint/Pollution, Lifespan, Disposal, Endangerment to Wildlife, and Endangerment to Humans. We have provided a lot of information and explanations relevant to each.
It is not until you see all of the problems all in one place, that you realise the enormity of the situation; there is not just one area that needs tackling. We admit that this chapter is hard to read- it’s got a lot of sadness in it, with problems that we ourselves cannot directly control. We can indirectly make big changes by making small alterations in our lives, which will lead to a change further along the chain. But the problem (s!) around plastic are huge.
‘The Misconceptions’ chapter was a very interesting one to write. We realised what a lot of people (including us originally) think about plastic, and how they are helping to create a positive impact. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. This was almost heartbreaking for us, as we are people who have always recycled our plastic and separated it out, only to now know that the act of recycling plastic is basically a lie.
We have taken what we believe to be, three of the most ‘misleading misconceptions’. We were also believers of these statements, however research has proven them to be untrue. It shows us that whatever our next move is as a race, it better be a great one!
‘The Alternatives’ is a lighter chapter. Whilst we are, actually quite quickly, reaching the point of no return for our Earth, there are amazing people out there. It is these people who are striving for the new way of living, and are actually trying to make a positive change in relation to plastic.
We have taken the best (and only really!) ways to make a change- Use Alternative Materials; Use Alternative Plastics; and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Relating to each, we have explained how to carry them out and what they mean (although fortunately it’s very simple!)
‘Make An Impact’ is the final chapter of the book. It is not a conclusion to the book, in the sense that we do not ‘sum up’ the information that we have found. This is because we cannot tell you what your opinion on plastic should be, as we will all undoubtedly have different opinions as to what plastic is.
We can only give you the relevant information and hope that you will be able to form your own opinion, and make an informed decision on how you want to tackle the situation. We think it’s important that we all understand the consequences and risks of the way that we are currently living, but we need the information to do that. We hope that our book helps.
It’s quite scary stuff, and once you’ve read it, you can’t unlearn it! That being said, we think it’s very important in today’s culture. Through research and what we have put in the book, we have been able to finally answer the question ‘What is Plastic?’ which we believe is the first step to being able to stop using it altogether- it’s best to know what you’re up against! Our aim is that once you’ve read the book, you will have formed your own answer and opinion, in regards to plastic.