Plastic (not so) fantastic
Did you know that in the past 70 years around 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced globally, but that only about 9% of it has been recycled? Pretty depressing right?
It gets worse.
Aside from the plastic that’s been incinerated (about 12%), the rest is still here today, sitting in landfill, floating around in our oceans or rivers (unless of course it’s been recycled or still in use). And, by 2050 plastic production is estimated to have more than doubled and there’s likely to be more plastic than fish in the sea.
Plastic has become a part of modern-day life – in fact, a lot of the items you’ll probably find you can’t do without (your computer/phone/tablet; your car, many kitchen appliances just to name a few) are made from or contain plastic.
Let’s be clear, when it comes to owning your impact, these aren’t the types of plastic we’re necessarily suggesting you need to give up.
Saying no to single use
If you look at the breakdown of how plastic is used (2015 data), it’s pretty clear where we need to begin when it comes to tackling our collective plastic problem.
More than a third of all plastic is being used for packaging.
But the good news about that is that A LOT of plastic packaging can be relatively easy to cut – or even better, eliminate – from your life.
Three more reasons why cutting plastic packaging waste is important
- It’s filling up our landfill. A lot of single use plastic items are rendered useless after a matter of minutes – think coffee cups, lids, stirrers, plastic bags,– and others, while potentially offering convenience, aren’t necessary (who needs four tomatoes sitting on a polystyrene tray wrapped in plastic, when there’s loose ones on offer?)
- Plastic is forever. It doesn’t decompose. That straw you used for five minutes when you were six is, at best, sitting in landfill somewhere (at worst it’s in the ocean) and will still be there in another 400 years.
- It’s entered the food chain. Plastic pollution isn’t just harming sea life and marine birds, it’s also breaking down into microscopic pieces and these microplastics have recently been detected in the food we consume.
Six ways you can overcome single-use plastic
Avoid it by saying NO
Whether it be that plastic straw in a drink, plastic cutlery, balloons, or basically anything with the word ‘disposable’ attached to it you CAN say “no thanks”. Most of the time these aren’t your only options – go old school and drink from the glass, use your fingers and invest in an item that can be reused to do the job 100+ times rather than just once
Choose to refuse
Embrace your local bulk food store, or at least the bulk food aisle at your local supermarket. BYO barrier bags and container and fill them up. Invest in reusable bags, a coffee cups and water bottle that you’re happy to carry around so that you have it to hand when you need it!
Embrace plastic-free alternatives
From beeswax wraps to bamboo-fibre cleaning wipes and band aids, there are a lot of new environmentally-friendly items that have become increasingly easy to buy in recent years. Health food stores, markets with handmade items and online are great places to keep an eye out. Why not choose one single-use item to eliminate today and do your research right now?
Not all plastics are equal. In WA most single-use plastic bottles and containers can be recycled in your yellow-topped bin so long as they are clean. You can also take your soft plastics (anything scrunchable) back to major supermarkets to be recycled.
Stop making impulsive purchases or buying items simply because you’ve gotten into a (bad) habit. Take your bags with you. Don’t buy that plastic toothbrush just because it’s what you normally do. Opt for the version that’s sold in a jar with a metal lid, rather than the one in plastic.
Ask for help
Not sure how to start, or go the next step? It’s actually ok to ask. Why not join our helpful community over on Facebook or a group that’d dedicated to plastic-free living.
If we were to add a little extra effort, plan ahead and just say no – we can prevent plastic from ending up in our waterways, ocean, landfill and maybe even eventually on supermarket shelves.