As we get ready for the Lent Plastic Challenge,today’s blog is all about the environmental impacts of plastics throughout it’s lifecycle.

Where does plastic come from?
Plastic is made from crude oil, which is mined/drilled around the world. Oil is a fossil fuel, meaning it was created thousands of years ago from fossil refinement and it is a finite resource that is running out.

IMPACT: This means the search for new oil reserves is heading into protected, virgin, delicate eco systems. Drilling for oil for plastics is directly implicated with Rainforest destruction in the Amazon.

How is plastic made?

Crude oil is mixed with chemicals to stabilise it. The process requires large quantities of energy and water.

IMPACT: Co2 emissions from production and transportation. Use of finite materials such as water and fossil fuels in it’s production.

Does plastic biodegrade or compost?
NO! Every piece of plastic that has been ever made still exists. It takes over 500 years for plastics to break down. Plastics in the oceans don’t biodegrade either they just break down into smaller particles.

IMPACT: Beaches and oceans littered with a fine glitter like layer of plastics.

But cant plastic be recycled?

The real meaning of recycling is to return a material to a similar state within a cyclical process (think paper and cans).
Plastic ‘recycling’ is confusing because:
a) There are so many types of plastics
b) Plastics get turned into other products in a downcycling process e.g broom handles, fleece jumpers.
c) In the UK, there is no consistent process, some could get recycled, downcycled, shipped abroad for incineration or buried in landfill.

What about all the plastic in the sea?
The 5 Gyres latest research suggests there are 268,000 tonnes of plastic in the oceans.
IMPACT: Plastic killing mammals and entering the food chain through fish and into humans.


How can you do your bit?
Whilst the prevalence of plastics shows no sign of abating (it is a cheap material), it is important that consumers and lobbying groups form to stand up against the plastics industry. Choosing to refuse and avoid single-use plastic items such as plastic bags, bottles, food containers and skin wash with microbeads in are a great start.


How does the Lent plastic challenge work?

If you think you could avoid plastic water bottles and microwaving meals in plastic tubs for 40 days you should join us on the Lent Plastic Challenge.

The Lent Plastic Challenge is not about throwing out every plastic item in your house.

Instead it’s about challenging your habits and shopping behaviours to see what single-use plastics you could ‘give-up’.

You could pick a couple of items and focus on those OR every week try and cut out another item, with the programme and support of the Green Livvy team.

What support is included in the Lent Plastic Challenge?

We will provide you with:

  • Weekly webinars containing advice, facts and motivation
  • Daily inspiration including videos and recipes
  • An online community to share your achievements, discoveries and challenges

How do I join?

Join the Lent Plastic Challenge Facebook Group or sign-up for email updates.

Want to find out more about plastics and health?

Further reading:

5 Gyres website
Plastic Coalition website