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 cleanseas.org and make your pledge.

100 Comments

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell said:

    There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here: shop.kurzgesagt.org

    February 8, 2019
    Reply
  2. Stelios Andreolas said:

    Your videos deserve more attention. The amount of effort to produce these videos is amazing. Also, Epic Mountain's composition is literally EPIC.
    Definitely my favorite YouTube channel.

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  3. Rainer m said:

    Stop it. We need do keep our planeet togheter

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  4. Davyd_ 999 said:

    How to stop plastic pollution

    RECYCLE

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  5. William.y 2007 said:

    That’s why we need to Save the turtles!!!

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  6. James Shiu said:

    This should be the filter.

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  7. Brenda b said:

    Best video I've ever seen, very clear and unfortunately true

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  8. Daniel Whyatt said:

    Thank you so much again for another brilliant video. Seriously, I learn a lot more on these than I ever did in my time at school. These videos should really be shown in lesson times, or at least in mandatory presentation meetings.

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  9. CRAZY DOG said:

    I have a solution

    E A T

    The plastic

    October 27, 2019
    Reply
  10. N4L Gaming said:

    I got a save the oceans ad about sperm whales eating plastic. Is this a sign?

    October 27, 2019
    Reply
  11. EM P said:

    I mean. Plastic is now pretty deeply incorporated into the ecosystem. It causes extinction events and is extremely likely to be harmful to people in the long term. At the same time, it forces some pretty rapid adaptation. If the history of the entire world taught us anything, the species that don't die out will very likely evolve and simply use synthetic plastics (more accurately, synthetic monomers) as a part of their biochemistry in the long term.

    Sure it will probably cause cancer (in a similar way asbestos does, micro or nano-plastics will disrupt cells). Yeah. But we're still overpopulating the Earth, and our life expectancy is way higher than it ever was. Not only that, but plastics are the greatest method of resource utilization since the invention of alloys and have actually enabled us to enter the Silicon age and literally make leaps in all scientific and medical fields.

    Totally worth it. The fear of plastic is just a fear of the loss of agency. The average life expectancy will drop a decade (if nothing else changes), but who the hell cares? There are enough humans as it is, and we're working on ways to increase our life expectancy anyway. CRISPR is probably going to be a big thing used to resist carcinogens.

    October 27, 2019
    Reply
  12. Mark Steggles said:

    Why can't we have re-usable packaging? People could return it to the shop for money back

    October 28, 2019
    Reply
  13. Asher S said:

    Hey king Midas just eat with a fork and wear some clothes and gloves

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  14. pravanjan chakraborty said:

    We indeed are a parasite to this planet

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  15. Vincent Adiputra said:

    I am really sorry because we the cause of plastic polution.
    We form Indonesian maybe your all guys can forgive us, and can you teach us all Indonesian people to DO NOT TROW TRASH EVERYWHERE, cause our Intelegent in here is pretty low, they don't know what cause and most importantly they were so lazy.
    So help us changing our behavour!

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  16. ZeeBeeFPV said:

    Thank you for explaining what is happening without vilifying plastics. They are absolutely the most efficient way to preserve food. Even though paper enjoys a slightly higher recycling rate, it too exudes methane as it decomposes, its reprocessing requires far more resources (like water) than the reprocessing of recycled plastic. Plus do you think we want to go back to using more paper/ cutting more trees?
    People need to know that plastic is VERY GOOD for disposal in properly designed landfills (which we have in the US – mostly)-all of its carbon is sequestered within it, it does not leach contaminants into the soil, and it creates a stable base upon which a park can be built at the landfills decommissioning. BTW the first thing you do when making a landfill is line it with plastic!
    All the problems with plastic litter is caused by LITTERING. We can solve it by putting trash where it belongs, NOT by banning trash. The best enviro statement we ever had was "give a hoot, don't pollute", which speaks to the heart of the matter. Anyone remember Woodsy Owl?

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  17. Sanskaar Kulkarni said:

    Thank you very much for the high quality content you give us, I have used this in my report and I really benefited from you telling us the source, thank you!

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  18. HeyItzRane said:

    If plastic is so durable and cheap to make, WHY DON'T WE MAKE RECYCLABLE PLASTIC BAGS???

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  19. Chrys Reyes said:

    ok boomer

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  20. Plasticgamerkid YT said:

    I was about to say you could use plastic tubs for food too, but that is literally plastic

    October 31, 2019
    Reply
  21. Russman said:

    Am I the only one who counted the bottles at 2:02 and was disappointed?

    October 31, 2019
    Reply
  22. Jack Soley said:

    Greta Thunberg has entered the chat

    November 1, 2019
    Reply
  23. Lumberjack king the great said:

    I got a save the environment from plastic straws ad from a mermaid

    November 1, 2019
    Reply
  24. Marquis Vegan said:

    so bottomline the issue is littering… not plastic itself

    November 1, 2019
    Reply
  25. Sebastian Reynolds said:

    4:38 That thing at the bottom left, is that a condom?

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  26. Mr Monstah said:

    Yo just because I wanna die doesn't mean that the Earth should die

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  27. Peter Penis said:

    Most plasic comes from 4 countrys … Why don't you fuck them Up?
    Oh wait, you can't so shit about China and they are responsible for you getting cancer

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  28. Cre8-Health - Hollywood Health Coach said:

    we must kill humans – it's the only logical answer

    What did you say plastic eating bacteria?
    did you say Worms eat plastic?
    did you say make hemp plastic?

    no no no we want to kill humans make them feel bad so they kill themselves … problem gone!

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  29. Stacy Newsom said:

    Don't ya'll remember to democratic save the trees campaign In the 1980s That was the Democrat party Save the trees stop cutting them down and to recycle plastics Was the montra of the day Before they pass laws they don't do any research United States government needs to be Super sued

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  30. Craig Johnson said:

    Shocking but also confusing 😱

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  31. Mr Pepperoni Pizza said:

    Humans must just die nothing would happen if we are gone

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  32. May said:

    Tbh Kurzgesagt could add 10 ads at the beginning of the videos and I'd still watch them

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  33. wojtekpolska said:

    I have a question – if most plastic in ocean is flushed just by about 10 rivers, and u said one river in china is generating 1.5 tons a year – why dont just make a "filter" – a Dam that instead of making power would recycle the plastic from this rivers preventing it from entering oceans?

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  34. wojtekpolska said:

    excuse me but why in your piles of plastic trash there are Gameboys laying everywhere lol, i dont think they were so bad for peoples to just trow them away

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  35. Marja Seilonen said:

    This is bad

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  36. ALEXANDRO 147 said:

    How much you want to bet that at least half of the dislikes are from boomers

    November 4, 2019
    Reply
  37. Anders said:

    Please make a video of how crytpocurrency works and make take a few examples like bitcoin and ether

    November 4, 2019
    Reply
  38. Tomek Stolarski said:

    Even if people wanted to help , clean , collect, recycle … there are still more who just cant beacose of…

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  39. Ibrahim Adam said:

    The starting is not real

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  40. goders69 said:

    No offence but Canada and the US are shipping their own non recyclable waste out to those mentioned countries in the video. Get your facts right

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  41. Noe Gruget said:

    Another solution is simply trying to consume less and reduce, reuse, and recycle more.

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  42. Shadow 24 said:

    Video: Says Plastic is getting into us

    Me in 2nd Grade: Eats a damb plastic spoon

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  43. junkdna83 said:

    that stat about plastic outweighing all fish in the ocean by 2050 is BS

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  44. kimberley Key said:

    Amazing Video – Great messages

    November 8, 2019
    Reply
  45. Nitipriya Singh said:

    another dimension told me about how the humans used plastic for good.

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  46. George Kovats said:

    Shouldn't we just… you know… reuse plastic bags like my family does?

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  47. Konstantin said:

    humans are pregnant with extinction. It'll be ok as soon as people are gone. No need to bother

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  48. An_Annoying_Cat said:

    There is a type of caterpillar that eats plastic, but those are parasitic to honeybees, so either way, we’re screwed.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  49. Allen Liu said:

    In the story of King Midas, He wished for the “wish” to go away and for everything to turn back to normal. And the gods accepted it. So the plastic pollution can go away if we all reuse plastic and not just throwing it away from using it only once.

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  50. drugtrip intensifies said:

    The oceans are full of
    PLASTIC!!

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  51. Weaboo Chan said:

    How about starting by stopping the packaging in packaging in packaging inside of packaging?

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  52. imaminifrog said:

    im sorry i lost my flip flops in the strong river stream sorry lol

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  53. bepnho LITOKIT said:

    Hi, thank you for your informative videos!

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  54. Nichsa 444 said:

    Condom plastic will not effectives nanobot will could breaking down hole to enter

    November 14, 2019
    Reply
  55. Hannah Tomfohrde said:

    Vsco girl

    November 14, 2019
    Reply
  56. lahmar intissar said:

    ماعلاباليش اذا كاين واحد دزيري هنا بصح انا هنا 😁

    November 14, 2019
    Reply
  57. Nimish Lonikar said:

    scientists have discovered an organism which eats plastic … so the solution to plastic problem is to produce that organism in vast numbers and let it eat plastic !

    November 15, 2019
    Reply
  58. Arek Zaborowski said:

    Oh boy im so ready to overthrow plastic

    November 15, 2019
    Reply
  59. Riot4Peace said:

    Goddamn fucking idiots.

    November 16, 2019
    Reply
  60. Michael Ward said:

    Plastic is our friend!

    November 16, 2019
    Reply
  61. WAQUAR AHSAB said:

    how is microplastics formed? Does it cause any disease/death?

    November 16, 2019
    Reply
  62. Xaekai said:

    I'm so glad you guys addressed the India/China facet of this problem.

    November 16, 2019
    Reply
  63. Demon_Roz said:

    Together!

    November 17, 2019
    Reply
  64. Kazooples said:

    I resent the demonisation of furbies in this video, but I will look past it, for Mother Earth.

    November 17, 2019
    Reply
  65. Kurnaz said:

    Abi yapma, atma izmaritini denize, geri alamazsın :d

    November 17, 2019
    Reply
  66. pandas are cool said:

    Plastic is killing Earth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 17, 2019
    Reply
  67. Jameson Audette said:

    6.9 km, I see.

    November 17, 2019
    Reply
  68. Split Haven said:

    Reusable plastics. Plastic fabrics for clothes. Plastic building materials for spacecraft. Plastic building material for everything. Instead of making our plastic to throw it away We make it to last. We have a freaking goldmine and we are throwing it away like it is trash. imagine If scientists and plastic producers got together. can you imagine all the badass stuff we could get done?

    November 17, 2019
    Reply
  69. Рон Браун said:

    China

    November 17, 2019
    Reply
  70. Samuel L. Jackson _ said:

    A mindfuck: we could replace all plastics with hemp fiber, but there’s a stigma against hemp so instead we’re eating motherfucking plastic particles

    November 17, 2019
    Reply
  71. TheGameFlinger said:

    This video is just creating more VSCO girls…

    November 18, 2019
    Reply
  72. Edwin Arguello said:

    How did ancient people use to live without plastic??

    November 18, 2019
    Reply
  73. Kpopguy ! said:

    Even friend is also made of plastic. 😑

    November 18, 2019
    Reply
  74. The air doggo said:

    Cleanseas and team trees? Whoa there

    November 18, 2019
    Reply
  75. Biesliek1 said:

    China Numba Wan

    November 18, 2019
    Reply
  76. Humayun al Rafi Zuha said:

    Kurzgesagt: *mention Indonesia
    Me: Shi-

    November 18, 2019
    Reply
  77. Jackson Sweet said:

    So are we just gonna ignore the fact that they talked about wrapping a single banana?

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  78. Cole ‘Tequila’ Patron said:

    When you realize greek mythology is just trying to tell us what not to do to screw ourselves over

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  79. weissray San said:

    5:59 Just test

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  80. Floofy Ultima :3 said:

    Im working on a poster for plastic pollution entitled STOP PLASTIC POLLUTION

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  81. Floofy Ultima :3 said:

    Single use plastic …………how bout that?

    November 19, 2019
    Reply
  82. rumahhafidzah bekasi said:

    I chew on plastic straw everyday

    November 20, 2019
    Reply
  83. Shivam Shukla said:

    😓

    November 21, 2019
    Reply
  84. dogboy0912 said:

    surprised this doesn't mention a certain type of biodegradable plastics (not to be confused with other """green""" plastics). One method we thought of is to make plastics that can be metabolized by some amount of microbes. It doesn't need to be a lot. We just need to know the plastic can be broken down out in the world. This would reduce the time it takes to completely breakdown a plastic from thousands of years to decades and would help mitigate micro plastic pollution.

    November 21, 2019
    Reply
  85. WilcznyWilczek said:

    That's why I think that extermination of human race by global suicide is a good thing.

    November 21, 2019
    Reply
  86. Jimmy Samwell said:

    Burn all rubber trees

    November 22, 2019
    Reply
  87. Duck said:

    I know how that king could have gotten around that gold problem. He could eat his food with forks or spoons. Technically if he touched something it would turn into gold so he could just eat it with kitchen tools.

    November 22, 2019
    Reply
  88. Colleen Campbell said:

    2:33 Who raps a banana?

    November 22, 2019
    Reply
  89. _ICE_ BREAKER_ said:

    What about recycling? Isnt it a good way to stop pollution ???

    November 24, 2019
    Reply
  90. Tonje said:

    Every human should pick 1 piece of plastic every day.

    November 24, 2019
    Reply
  91. Mikuuu said:

    thank u for made this video. I can understood plastic es some problems.

    November 24, 2019
    Reply
  92. 멜다 said:

    paper straw sucks tho

    November 24, 2019
    Reply
  93. Raza Daza said:

    Ummm nothing here is conclusive or proven.. just fear mongering

    November 25, 2019
    Reply
  94. Deimos Cain said:

    There's an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas! Texas is bigger than most countries in the world! How do we have to thank for that island of garbage? It's not America. It's Not Great Britain. It's not even Russia! It's China, and India!!!!!! I hate pollution. I would love some recycling. And I wish to God we'd stop quadruple wrapping everything in plastic for Packaging!! The manufacturing companies are the worst at this! If you don't work in manufacturing you have no idea how much plastic they throw away everyday. It's truly staggering! Conserve. It's the only way to not drowned in garbage!

    November 25, 2019
    Reply
  95. _Graf _Grief_ said:

    Please tell me since Kurzgesagt is a german word: Is the German channel the original or you? (Im german and watch mostly the german channel)

    November 27, 2019
    Reply
  96. Quinn MITCHELL said:

    do what he said okay

    November 27, 2019
    Reply
  97. Hoa Tran said:

    this really helps my school project thanks so much!

    November 28, 2019
    Reply
  98. Packed Films said:

    Him: plastic is finding its way into our bodies

    Me: ( eats plastic)

    “It already has.”

    November 28, 2019
    Reply
  99. Larfuno 2716 said:

    Ironically an ad about plastic in the ocean played before this video for me

    November 29, 2019
    Reply
  100. C.J said:

    Yeah? tell china and India

    November 29, 2019
    Reply

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