In discussions about environmental problems, the topic of plastic is usually one of the first things to come up. It's true that plastic waste is a major problem plaguing landfills and oceans the world over. However, when used correctly and thoughtfully, plastic and the environment can live in happy harmony. Check out some of the good things about plastic that can help us take better care of our planet.
Plastic components are being used increasingly often in new vehicles, mainly because they help make our vehicles safer. However, because plastic is also much lighter than traditional materials like metal and glass, it also helps cars get more miles per gallon of travel because the internal components don't have to work as hard to move the vehicle's weight forward. Greater fuel economy means fewer stops at the gas station and less fossil fuel usage.
Because plastics are light and sturdy, product packaging has become more streamlined. Lids are getting smaller and packages are getting lighter, which winds up contributing to fuel economy as well — when trucks don't have as much weight to haul, they don't use as much gas!
While paper products degrade much faster than plastic, they also require a vast amount of natural resources to create. Many trees and a significant amount of water and energy are needed to produce paper products, and the manufacturing process creates a lot of waste that can be difficult to remove. While plastics also require resources and energy to be created, they make up for it by being easier to recycle and having a far longer lifetime.
Along with vehicle construction, plastics are also being frequently used as building materials for both commercial and residential properties. Plastic windows and other building parts can filter UV rays in order to keep buildings cool in the summer while also locking in heat to keep them warm in winter. This means it takes less money and energy to keep our homes and workplaces comfortable, which contributes to massive savings every year and a reduced environmental footprint.
Because plastic is resistant to corrosion, impact, UV rays and many other environmental factors, it doesn't have to be replaced as often as other materials. Whether it's used for components in a piece of machinery, underground sewage piping or a reusable water bottle, it can help save time and expense by reducing the need for maintenance and replacement.