Where Does Plastic Go When It Dies?

What is Plastic made of?


Do you know? It’s made of Fossil Fuels.

Think about it… A disposable “single use” item, such as a plastic spoon, plastic shopping bag or Styrofoam cup will be used for a duration of 5 to 20 minutes, then discarded. Yet, it is made from Fossil Fuels. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years. Fossil fuels also aren’t renewable. When it’s depleted, it’s gone for good.

So, that can’t be right? We are using up fossil fuels to make items we’re just going to throw away anyways. But, I hear you say, it’s disposable, silly Cheryl. Plastic bags, spoons, cups, etc, they’re disposable, you dummy!

Yes, but disposable DOES NOT mean biodegradable. Plastic is a very strong material. It doesn’t just go away. Sure, you throw it away, and you might not litter, but you throw it in your trash can. And you take the trash out. All responsible like. Someone comes and takes the trash “away.” But where’s away? There is no away. Plastic doesn’t just break down and disappears. It’s stays around. Forever.

Most plastics are durable and degrade VERY slowly. Hundreds of years, in fact. Since the 1950s, one billion tons of plastic have been discarded and some of that material might persist for centuries or much longer.

So, where does plastic go?

Every where.
It floats, it clogs, it sticks, it suffocates.
Most if it ends up in a gyre called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

garbage-patch-map image7

Now,  I’ve known all my life how bad plastic is. I remember reading somewhere (about 15 years ago!) that the plastic around a 6 pack beer or coke takes 450 years (if not longer) to decompose.

About 4 years ago I did research for a woman campaigning against plastic bottles, and I learnt about the the Great Pacific Garbage patch, and I was FURIOUS. Furious that companies pollute the oceans and that all the trash ends up in the ocean and kills the marine life.

Take Responsibility:

Now, you may ask why do I even care. I’m not dumping the plastic in the ocean.

Really? aren’t I?

Yesterday, I counted 63 pieces of “disposable” plastic pieces in my fridge. Just my fridge, I haven’t even started with the pantry, the bathroom, under the sink, the bedroom…

I’m sending the plastic to the ocean! As are you. I’m throwing it in my dustbin, and it goes away, and I don’t even think about where “away is.” Last week, I would have thrown it in the black Tuffy garbage bag, and not give a rat’s catootie where it ends up.

But, today, I do care. Today, I realize the impact I’ve had on our environment.

Today, I’ve made changes.

And tomorrow will be better.

Posts to look out for:

  • My first recon shopping trip to Fruit and Veg, to test this whole shopping without plastic theory.
  • My first batch of Homemade Toothpaste: Why I’ve made it, and How.
  • Pasta Aglio e Oli recipe from the Chef Movie.


7 responses to “Where Does Plastic Go When It Dies?

  1. Yes I agree the plastic problem was one of the reasons why I am studying sustainable design. It is a big issue. Though I am happy to say there is at least one company in Australia that is adressing this problem with PLA biodegradable wheat products and cotainers made from bamboo. I hope to see fossil fuels a thing of the past in my lifetime! 🙂


      • I’ll try 🙂 Being part of the international Zero Waste Bloggers Network helped to get the word out and we are 3 SA members in the group now. And when we have a suggestion that is easily incorporated, we contact certain franchises here to see if they’re willing to accommodate the change. Recent example, and some progress was made, with getting a nationwide fresh produce store to train staff how to tare client’s jars instead of just selling spices and grains in plastic bags. It’s a small change but It’s a start!

        Liked by 1 person

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