Plastic may not be as * evil * as you think, and here’s why

There’s no doubt that plastic is a major part of our lives. Pollution caused by plastic can be harmful to so many things — including the ocean, wildlife, and our health. Apparently, climate change can even affect our love lives, which is absolutely mind-blowing.

The latest research estimates that 30 years from now, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish. Even scarier? Conservation efforts are hard (and expensive), and all of those water bottles we’ve been recycling aren’t even being recycled.

But what can we do about it?

According to a report from Quartz, part of why plastic plays such a big role in our lives is because people want cheap and convenient food. Simply put, plastic is actually useful material. Because it’s inexpensive, it’s an easy way to meet food supply demands (think international food brands producing huge quantities of food for a low price) over things like local, low-waste alternatives.

So, while the material is absolutely harmful to the environment, it serves an important function in food distribution. It protects our food from other items, which is critical for people suffering from severe allergies, not to mention keeping germs off your bread during a really bad flu season. It also allows people to have access to foods that aren’t native to their surroundings.

More importantly? Plastic can help fight malnutrition.

“People in developing countries are less likely to eat enough fruit and vegetables, and according to the World Health Organization, about 1.7 million deaths worldwide (almost 3% of all deaths) are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption, Sarah Wild reported for Quartz. “If plastic was not so pervasive for food preservation, more communities could suffer from malnutrition.

The question is, do we get rid of plastic or embrace it?

Honestly, it’s not that simple. While it might be causing problems with our environment, it’s only a symptom of a much wider problem. According to Quartz, two options are to switch up our packaging options or try to revamp recycling programs. However, both options are only slapping a small fix on a much bigger problem.

The best solution is to focus on ways to eat more sustainably, which means creating less waste and — heartbreakingly enough — cutting back on foods like avocados.

But if eating fewer avocados and taking three-day weekends can help save the planet, then we’re all for it.

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