Plastic is one of the most ubiquitous and dangerous pollutants out there. The material is energy-intensive to create, and it persists for centuries, leaching harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates into the environment—and our bodies. And yet, more than 300 million tons of it will likely be created in 2018, and recent investments by major oil companies are projected to fuel a 40 percent rise in plastic production over the next decade.
Plastic is present in so much these days—from our takeout containers to our cellphones—that it's easy to forget that it has only been mass-produced since the 1940s. And as the price of natural gas has decreased over the years, plastic has only become cheaper and cheaper to make on a large scale.
According to new reports by the American Chemistry Council, companies like Exxon Mobil Chemical and Shell Chemical have spent $180 billion on the plastic market since 2010, despite scientific proof that its continued production will be detrimental to the future of the environment.
“We could be locking in decades of expanded plastics production at precisely the time the world is realising we should use far less of it,” Carroll Muffett, president of the U.S. Center for International Environmental Law, tells the Guardian.
This news makes it even more clear that plastic production will continue to increase as long as it remains profitable. As consumers, we can take a stand by avoiding plastic—especially single-use plastics—whenever possible. Here are a few resources to help you do it: