We didn’t always know that plastic is bad.
There was a time when we could see only the revolutionary nature of the material. We didn’t see it as the “forever garbage” we are depositing on literally every corner of the Earth. Back then we didn’t understand the dangers of microplastics (fragments less than 5 millimeters in length), now impacting our drinking water and our marine life. We could not imagine that there would be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. We did not even grasp that the petroleum-laden supply chain would impact our climate. And we believed the lie that recycling could solve the plastic problem.
We know better now. But how did we get here?
Plastic comes from oil. Since chemical companies began to turn petrochemicals into plastic in the 1950s (and through the 1960s and ’70s, when the petrochemical industry figured out plastic would create environmental disaster) plastic has made its way into every part of modern life. In just 70 short years, plastic has become as commonplace in daily life as, well, food, water, and medicine.