At this point, you've probably heard a LOT about plastic pollution, plastic being detrimental to our environment, our health, etc. but you may not really know the history of plastics and why it's as problematic as it is. So let's take it waaaay back to the good old days and bring it up to speed!
A Brief History
In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt, invented the world's first synthetic polymer. The initial invention was inspired by creating a substitution for natural substances, like ivory, tortoiseshell, etc. which was a win for animals and in turn, a win for humans. Having a man-made product also made things more accessible to people of a lower social status, also giving more equality to people.
In 1907, Leo Baekeland, invented what would be the world's first FULLY synthetic plastic, having not a single material derived from nature involved.
World War II was the biggest push for continued use of plastics. Everything from nylon to plexiglass was used in the military. After the war ended, the plastic use continued giving people a convenient, sanitary, and relatively cheap material to make just about whatever was desired.
In the 1960s, the first observation of plastic debris in our ocean was observed. As people grew more concerned about caring for our environment, plastic was beginning to be looked at as cheap or fake.
After taking a beating in sales, the plastic industry decided to create a solution: recycling. Recycling became popular in the 1980s, though we know in today's world, most of our recycling isn't actually properly recycled or reused. This can clearly be seen when taking a look at our ocean. Maybe you've heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but did you know there are FIVE great garbage patches around the world? Five! As if one wasn't bad enough...
As the world is becoming more and more aware of the need to stop single use plastics and to rely on more sustainable solutions, there are a few ways we can help to protect both our environment and our health.
While this post may be a short, condensed discussion about plastics, it's one that I find very important. What are your biggest concerns with plastic and plastic pollution? What are some ways your making changes to reduce your plastic use? Let me know in the comments here or over on our Facebook page!
Jamie is a musician, avid lover of nature, and a dog momma living a more sustainable life each and every day.