Once thought of as a versatile and cheap material ideally suited to modern convenience, plastic has now become an environmental plague. Can you help beat plastic pollution this World Environment Day?
Over the years our addiction to plastic has become such that you can find it everywhere, from single use shopping bags to the polyester in the clothes we wear to the microbeads in our skincare. Plastic waste has taken over cities, countryside and oceans. The problem has reached such proportions, that it is now estimated that eight million tonnes of waste plastic ends up in the sea each year. In the next 10-15 years global plastic production is projected to nearly double.
The infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a collection on non biodegrable debris) is a chilling reminder that our dependence has gone too far. What’s more is that fish, shelfish and marine wildlife feed on this waste so humans who eat seafood ingest 11,000 pieces of microplastic each year. Additionally it is estimated that by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
Global Plastic Pollution by the Numbers:
- Up to 5 trillion plastic bags used each year
- 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year
- 17 million barrels of oil used on plastic production each year
- 1 million plastic bottles bought every minute
- 100,000 marine animals killed by plastics each year
- 100 years for plastic to degrade in the environment
- 90% of bottled water found to contain plastic particles
- 83% of tap water found to contain plastic particles
- 50% of consumer plastics are single use
- 10% of all human-generated waste is plastic
The good news is that by making simple changes in our daily lives we can all help reducing plastic pollution. Here are some simple tips.
10 Tips To Ditch The Plastic In Your Life
Refill – Forget plastic water bottles, or disposable coffee and tea cups. Switch to a refillable water bottle or insulated refillable cups to keep hydrated throughout the day without generating huge amount of waste. You will also save money as coffee shops charge less for refilling customers’ cups while free water fountains are available in more and more places.
Shop At Your Local Farmers Market – you only have to walk the aisles of your local supermarket to realise that food packaging has gone completely mad. Plastic is convenient to wrap fruits and vegetables as you can more easily add a barcode on top of it. Shop at your local farmers market instead using reusable or paper bags.
Switch to Reusable Produce Bags – say goodbye to fruits and vegetables plastic bags by using reusable produce bags. Washable and reusable some can also be used as laundry wash bags or cosmetic bags!
And Reusable Shopping Bags – the plastic bag tax has been brilliant at reducing plastic bag usage. Still there are occasions when you simply forget your reusable bags and end up buying plastic instead. I always keep one of these Envirosax below in my handbag, car or pocket to avoid being caught out. They quite comfortably hold two to three plastic grocery bags and have been tested to hold at least 20kgs – 44 lbs. Once folded they hold in the palm of your hand.
Reducing Single-Use Plastics
50% of the of consumer plastics are designed to be used only once, providing a momentary convenience before being discarded. Eliminating single-use plastics, both from design chains to our consumer habits is a critical first step to beat plastic pollution. Source: worldenvironmentday.global
Ditch The Straw – there is little advantage to drinking with a straw really, unless maybe you are unwell and stranded in bed. Plastic straws end up floating in the ocean and represent a real danger to wildlife (check out the video below showing the fate of a sea turtle). If you have to use straws, switch to a paper straw or a reusable metal straw.
Pack Your Lunch – forget individually packed sandwich, salad, fruit or yoghurt. Buying your lunch is wasteful and (once again) expensive. Cut down on plastic waste by bringing your own food in stainless steel, bamboo or glass lunchboxes . It will be cheaper and healthier too! Take it a step further in restaurants by bringing in your own containers for leftovers.
Buy Loose – buy cereals, grain, pulses etc… in bulk and store them at home in glass containers. You can even bring your own containers in shops such as Planet Organic to refill.
Become Recycling Savvy – check your local options for recyclable products before you buy and separate your waste for recycling.
Get Your Milk Delivered In Returnable Glass Bottles – take a look around on bin collection days and you’ll quickly notice that plastic milk bottles make up for a lot of packaging waste. Sign up for milk delivery and get your milk delivered in reusable glass bottles instead.
Beware Of Food Containers & Trays – take away and frozen food is often packaged in plastic or polystyrene. When shopping for convenience food, make a point of choosing products packaged in paper only. Keep an eye out for the new plastic free logo which will be added to select products and brands in the months to come.
For more information you can also check out this handy guide Plastic Pollution: Single Use Plastic Impact on our Oceans
This article was originally published on By Nature Blog.Updated 5th june 2018