At the time, plastic was invented to preserve certain natural resources

At the time, plastic was invented to preserve certain natural resources

Today, plastic is a real plague that contaminates many places around the world, wildlife and even the human body. Nevertheless, you should know that at the time of its creation, one of its objectives was to preserve certain natural resources.

An “ecological” material

Plastic is a widely used material these days. Originally, it was a way to facilitate the storage, transport and manufacture of many everyday objects. A century after its creation, this same material is more and more undesirable and solutions are beginning to be implemented to limit its presence. For example, the issue of microplastics is at the heart of environmental concerns. However, as surprising as it may seem today, plastic was created for greater comfort, but also, and above all, with the aim of reduce the impact of human actions on the environment. Before plastic, humans used materials such as rubber, latex and gum in particular. Thus, plastic was also created to limit the exploitation of these resources.

The very first plastic material is none other than parkesin, invented by Alexander Parkes and presented at the Great London Exhibition of 1864. Transparent, elastic, thermoformable and waterproof, this material is made from cellulose, nitric acid and alcohol. Then, Daniel Spill, an associate at Alexander Parkes, imagined an improved version: Xylonite. After Xylonite, a brand new material appeared in 1868, the work of inventor John W. Hyatt. The material in question was made of nitrocellulose and camphor (a mixture called celluloid) which effectively replaces ivory and tortoiseshell, materials of animal origin. Between the manufacture of numerous objects and the preservation of natural resourcessuccess quickly followed.

plastic waste
Credits: worradirek / iStock

Plastic, this solution has become a problem

At that time he was hard to imagine the consequences that plastic would have on the environment in case of massive use. Above all, the image of plastic was really associated with that of ecology, so that recycling was totally non-existent. Thus, plastic waste was simply thrown here and there.

Today, humans know that plastic is a scourge, especially for the oceans, and that waste must be recycled. In addition, consumption patterns tend to change again, as glass bottles and bulk purchases are gradually reappearing. Let’s also mention the arrival of new materials such as beewrap for food or even bamboo tableware.

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