Plastic Pollution: How Humans are Turning the World into Plastic

When the gods granted king Midas one wish, he wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. Midas was delighted. Trees, rocks, buildings all gold. But soon he found in horror that his food turned into gold as well. When he hugged his daughter to soothe his pain, he realized his mistake too late. The richest man in existence was starving, heartbroken and alone. Humanity got a similar wish granted when we learned how to turn brown stinky goo into magic – plastic. Cheap, sterile and convenient it changed our lives But this wonder of technology got a little out of hand. Plastic has saturated our environment. It has invaded the animals we eat and now it’s finding its way into our bodies. [Catchy intro music] What is plastic? For most of our history humans used stuff we found in nature to build the things we needed. But the invention of plastic roughly 100 years ago completely changed our world. Plastic is made from polymers – long repeating chains of molecule groups. In nature, polymers exist everywhere : the walls of cells, silk, hair, insect carapaces, DNA. But it’s also possible to create them. By breaking down crude oil into its components and Rearranging them, we can form new synthetic polymers. Synthetic polymers have extraordinary traits. They are lightweight, durable and can be molded into almost any shape. Not requiring time-consuming manual work, plastic can be easily mass-produced and its raw materials are a vailable in vast amounts And incredibly cheaply, and so the golden era of plastics began Bakelite was used for mechanical parts, PVC for plumbing electric gears and cases, Acrylic is a shatter resistant alternative to glass and nylon for stockings and war equipment Today almost everything is at least partly made from plastic. Our clothes, phones, computers, furniture, appliances, houses and cars. Plastic has long ceased to be a revolutionary material instead it became trash. Coffee cups, plastic bags, or stuff to wrap a banana. We don’t think about this fact a lot. Plastic just appears and goes away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t Since synthetic polymers are so durable, plastic takes between 500 and 1,000 years to break down. But somehow we collectively decided to use this super tough material for things meant to be thrown away. 40% of plastics are used for packaging. In the United States, packaging makes up 1/3 of all the waste that is generated annually. Since its invention, we have produced about 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. 335 million tons in 2016 alone. More than 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic have become waste since 1907. Piled up in one place, that makes a cube with a side length of 1.9 kilometers. So what did we do with all this waste? 9% was recycled, 12% burnt. But 79% of it is sticking around still. A lot ends up in the ocean. Around 8 million tons a year. That’s so much plastic that it will outweigh all the fish in the ocean by 2050. Because it’s everywhere, marine animals keep getting trapped in plastic and swallowing it. In 2015 already 90% of seabirds had eaten plastic. Many animals starve with stomachs full of indigestible trash. In 2018 a dead sperm whale washed up in Spain. He had eaten 32 kilos of plastic bags, nets and a drum While this is tragic and makes for great magazine covers, there’s an even more widespread, invisible form of plastic. Microplastics Microplastics are pieces smaller than 5 millimeters Some of them are used in cosmetics or toothpaste, but most result from floating waste that is constantly exposed to UV radiation And crumbles into smaller and smaller pieces 51 trillion such particles float in the ocean, Where they are even more easily swallowed by all kinds of marine life. This has raised concerns among scientists, especially about health risks from the chemicals that are added to plastic. BPA for example makes plastic bottles transparent But there’s also evidence that it interferes with our hormonal system. DEHP makes plastics more flexible, But may cause cancer. It would be pretty bad if micro plastics are toxic, because they travel up the food chain. Zooplankton eat micro plastic. Small fish eat zooplankton. So do oysters, crabs and predatory fish and they all land on our plate. Micro plastics have been found in honey, in sea salt, in beer, in tap water and in the household dust around us. 8 out of 10 babies and nearly all adults have measurable amounts of phthalates, a common plastic additive in their bodies. And 93% of people have BPA in their urine There is little science about this so far and right now it’s inconclusive. We need a lot more research before panic is justified. But it is safe to say that a lot of stuff happened that we didn’t plan for. And we have lost control Over plastic to a certain extent which is kind of scary. But just to make sure we should simply ban plastics, right? Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Plastic pollution is not the only environmental challenge we face. Some of the substitutes we’d use for plastic have a higher environmental impact in other ways. For example : according to a recent study by the Danish government, making a single-use plastic bag requires so little energy and produces far lower carbon dioxide emissions compared to a reusable cotton bag, that you need to use your cotton bag 7 thousand 100 times before it would have a lower impact on the environment than the plastic bag. We’re left with a complex process of trade-offs. Everything has an impact somehow, and it’s hard to find the right balance between them. Plastic also helps solve problems that we don’t have very good answers for at the moment. Globally, one-third of all food that’s produced is never eaten and ends up rotting away on landfills where it produces methane. And the best way of preventing food from spoiling and avoiding unnecessary waste is still plastic packaging. It’s also important to note where the vast majority of the world’s plastic pollution is coming from right now. 90% of all plastic waste entering the ocean through rivers comes from just ten rivers in Asia and Africa. The Yangtze in China alone flushes 1.5 million tons of plastic into the ocean each year. Countries like China, India Algeria or Indonesia industrialized at an impressive pace in the last few decades, transforming the lives of billions of people This development was so fast, that the garbage disposal infrastructure couldn’t keep up with collecting and recycling all the new waste this brought If politicians in Europe and the US want to address this issue, investing in infrastructure in developing countries is just as important as fighting plastic pollution at home with campaigns and redesigning products to minimize unnecessary plastic production. The bottom line is, as long as we don’t address plastic pollution from a global perspective, we will not solve it. Plastic pollution is a complicated problem. We found a magic material and we had a really good time with it, But we need to be careful or just like Midas, we’ll end up in a world that we didn’t wish for. Your individual daily actions still have a huge impact. What you do matters! Refuse disposable plastics. Convince your friends and family to do the same. Pressure companies and politicians to take the necessary steps to keep our oceans clean and our food safe. Together we can beat plastic pollution! This video was a collaboration with UN Environment and their clean seas campaign. If you want to take action to turn the tide on plastics, go to and make your pledge.

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100 thoughts on “Plastic Pollution: How Humans are Turning the World into Plastic

  1. Am I the only one that’s drinking out of a plastic cup and a plastic straw
    While watching this?

    Probably. . . 😐

  2. Before plastic was created, nobody had ever dreamed of using it. Don’t use hope; maybe a new resource that solves deforesting and plastic waste will be created!

  3. i try to minimize plastic usage but it's kind of hard when restaurants put plastic straws in your drink, or give you water in a plastic bottle

  4. though unpopular currently, hemp can be used to make biodegradable plastic (a decent step in the right direction)

  5. PLEASE, Blizzard-Activision just bend the knee to china for some free speech, who the fuck is going to push China to stop dumping into the ocean, hands up.. oh thats right nobody is brave enough, so while not using plastic as much as you can is a good thing, we cannot fix this problem alone, we must force China to stop and figure out a solution to china, or for plastics.

  6. I worked in the produce department for Woolworths (Supermarket). I used to watch people choose the apples packets wrapped in plastic and then put the plastic apple packets into the produce plastic bags. once at they checkout they would put the double wrapped fruit into the grey plastic bags before leaving. wrapping the fruit (already unnesesarily wrapped in plastic) three times before leaving with them. (assumedly just so they could remove them from all three plastic coverings and placing them exposed in the fruit bowl at home and discarding it all. unreal lol.

  7. I dont understand how do we stop this? Are the garbage bags we throw in the garbage truck dumped into the ocean??! :<

  8. Plastic bags are banned is most commercial places in kolkata, India for a few weeks now.. really informative video.
    It'll be better if developed nations take step in plastic disposal via awareness rather than investing or giving loans to unprofessional government officials in my opinion


  10. The study from the Danish Government, about how plastic back are "better" than bags of wool, was debunked. As I remember; the press release was excluding a lot of the details from the study and the calculations were exaggerated.

  11. When I studied Industrial Design, I had a very strict rule not to use plastic in manufacturing.

    That lasted a day. Plastic is everywhere.

  12. Lets face it, the filthy shithole countries are the ones polluting and over fishing the oceans, mostly the ch**nks. Nuking them doesnt seem like a bad idea, even though the communist UN will keep blaming the west exclusively.

  13. Unless some other alternative is cheaper, and easier to switch to — than to continue using plastic, it likely won't happen until it's too late.

  14. Ok what? Making à cotton bag is more poluting then à plastic one? Yet it takes à 100 years for it To degrade, someone defenetly got paid to twist that study to make plastic sound good! This video is warped in a very ugly way that has me wondering if the people who made it are simply stupid or are infactinfitrated agents working for the petroleum companies!
    Yes living without plastics at all would be near impossible! But we could easily reduce plastic consumption by 80%!
    Only use reusable bottles and using glass is even better if we simply ship the liquids in tanker trucks and bottle them in proximity to where they are sold! Forcing a standard bottle shape and size, would mean bottles would be interchangeable and shipping them for long distances would unnecessary vastly reducing transport and resulting pollution! This would also improve the economy all over the world creating jobs…
    Next: making a simple rule that all products have to be repairable and standardized , means that the over all waste will be vastly reduced!
    True the big companies like Apple, Microsoft… will be against this! But firstly they are making more then enough money and their methods of monopolizing the production and repair of their products is itself llegal! Not to mention they way that products are designed to fail in a given time period, this is criminal behaviour! Not to mention claiming right to product repaired and maintenance is classed as mafia behaviour and means they are liable for legal action as the products they are selling are being treated likerented products as dispite the fact that you bought it, you don't have the right to do what you want with it! This is eligal despite the fact that they have managed to convince the government Anand the people of the contrary and it must stop!
    For food containers, by using standardized reusable, personal containers, with bulk containers carrying the product as far as the cities or even the shops! Yes, it becomes easier to replace the product with fakes, but this means we can create jobs as food transport security…..

    There are many simple and fast solutions, but we first need to take the power back from the super multinationals and all the greedy dogs in mangers who want more money and power then they will ever need and put the futur of the planet and our descendents first!
    Of course the first thing we have to remove is this suicidal idea of the stock market and eternal growth of the economy, it is impossible and down right stupid! Think about it in simple terms. By the rule we have set for economy and all businesses if it was a tree, this is how it would go;
    1*We throw the seed on the ground, and only water it and put it in good soil if it decides to grow on its own!
    2*When it does start to grow, we keep it in the shade of the other older trees and only allow it to get any water the other trees allow to trickle between their roots!
    3*if the trees starts barring fruit and shows distinct signs of growth we allow and even encourage the older , bigger trees to steal its sunlight and nutrients and make it near impossible for it's fruit to be picked and consumed.
    4* if the tree servived the first 3 steps and flourishes, we dig it up and place it in the best spot we can find while pouring as much water and sun onto it as possible, all while tearing its fruit off its branches the moment they are about ripe!
    5* we give it all it wants and needs and more , as long as it keeps increasing the size and quantity of its fruit.
    6*as soon as the tree has a bad harvest or shows any sign of illness everyone runs in and rips the remaining fruit of the tree ditroying the branches and roots and refuse to give it anymore sun or water.
    7* if the tree does not manage by some miracle, manage to servive step 6, we set fire to it and rip it apart , selling its wood as fire wood instead of making it into furniture or finding a good use for it!
    # If we did this with our fruit barring trees and other harvests , we would soon run out of fruit and trees and end up starving to death!
    Or are you all just content being the beaten cow who gives, constant but low quality milk, while dreaming of green pastures and wild planes BUT Truly just waiting to die and become tomorrow's hamburger?
    I Call on YOU ALL to WAKE UP before it is too late and all YOU CAN SEE IS THE CHAIN PULLING YOU INTO THE MEAT GRINDER!

  15. I hate it when I go recycle I take as many plastics as i can like bottles for soap and different types of plastics and they just pull them out and throw them away recycling centers should be recycling every plastic they can not only 2 types of plastics

  16. Who throws out a Game Boy? Honestly, fucking savages!

    Oh, and OF COURSE China would be a major player in all of this.

  17. Dont know about you but every day I always think about how i wont be able to do so many fucking things because of ignorant idiots. Climate change, nuclear war, plastic pollution and SO MUCH FUCKING MORE.
    -A 13 year old Australian

  18. "Plastics is cheap" is a scam! It's being pushed by the notorious Oil companies….. And we all know what is plastics main gradients… a damn Oil!

  19. Wait but the reusable bag wouldn’t create micro plastics or ocean life pollution, doesn’t that alone outweigh the energy necessary to produce them? If that’s a matter of energy then the problem is actually bad habits not energy

  20. 6:26 are you sure? i mean it sounds like a 1:1 comparison so while using 1 cotton bag 7000 times you use 7000 plastic bags… i cant believe thats better for the enviorment. also cotton will just degrade if you throw it away

  21. can we make edible plastic? plastic that breaks down into nutrients but only as a reaction to stomach acid or something like that

  22. The solution to this problem isn't just recycling, alot of the stuff that you throw in the recycling bin ends up in a landfill for "later use."

  23. literally theirs a bin over there, put your rubbish in the bin, stop ruining this world. I have never littered on purpose and will always clean up after others, just people put ur rubbish in the bin

  24. China and India is fucking up our world, polluting our world and also overpopulating by having 5-6 kids each, are they all so fucking stupid?

  25. So Asia is to blame… We know indians are dirty people… They poop in sidewalks and then use streetwater to "clean" themselves….

  26. I still don't understand something… Why is so much plastic in the ocean? Who tf throws plastic in the ocean? They are like some retarded disney villain…

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