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Between the toothbrush we begin our day with to the light switch we turn off at night, dozens of everyday products are made from plastic.
Most plastics are made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource which not only is a health hazard, but creates large amounts of pollution and waste.
Plastics can pollute the environment and leach out synthetic chemical additives that impact our health. A large portion of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans, creating marine trash islands like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and Atlantic Trash Islands. In addition to polluting the marine ecosystems, these plastics leach out synthetic chemicals that impact marine organisms. We can protect the health of our environment by reducing the use of plastic materials and recycling them at the end of life.
Types of Plastics
If plastics must be used, it is best to avoid plastics 3, 6 and 7 to minimize environmental and health impacts.
Plastics products can be easily identified based on the number assigned to them. For instance, popular disposable water bottles are often made of polyethyelene terephthalate ethylene (PETE) and are assigned the number 1. Here are common types of plastic:
Smart Plastics Guide - summary of seven types of commonly used plastics, product examples, recyclability, and potential health risks, PBS/National Geographic (PDF)
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