People & Plastic; Simple Solutions to Reduce Plastic Waste
Plastic. Is. Everywhere. From single-use plastic bottles all the way down to microplastic beads in facewash, it seems that plastic has infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives. Plastic has played an incredibly influential role in human history, with innovations in the domains of healthcare, technology and even space travel. But while this material may be cheap and practical, it comes at a cost for us, for our planet and for our future generations.
Why is plastic a problem?
Due to its ease and convenience, plastic has transformed society into a throw-away culture, with 40% of global plastic production manufactured for single-use. With plastic being an inorganic material, it is estimated to take at least 400 years to breakdown, with certain additives potentially adding to the lifespan. Every piece of plastic that has ever been manufactured is still around today, either in a landfill, the ocean or somewhere else it shouldn’t be. In addition to an incredibly long lifespan, the mismanagement of plastic waste results in plastic making its way into our waterways, oceans and other natural habitats.
As a result of this, millions of animals every year die at the hands of plastic. Marine animals such as turtles, whales, seals and fish often become entangled in discarded fishing lines, 6-pack plastic rings, and plastic bags. Worse still, both marine and land animals regularly ingest plastic. If the animal is lucky, the plastic will be expelled with other bodily waste. Unfortunately, more often than not, ingested plastic clogs the digestive tract preventing the animal from eating, ultimately leading to their starvation.
For the animals that do survive eating plastic, there can be detrimental effects on their reproductive systems as a result of absorbing toxic additives found within most plastics. This means that they are unable to reproduce as effectively, potentially placing the future of their species in danger. As the toxic additives have made it through the animal’s bloodstream, once the animal is preyed upon, the predator then absorbs the toxic chemicals through the prey. Yes, this also applies to humans. The presence of plastic waste is so prevalent in the ocean that the majority of fish have ingested plastic at some point or another. This means that your fish dinner can easily contain microplastics and toxic chemicals found in manufactured plastic.
What can I do today to prevent the problem?
Plastic has facilitated so many instances of innovation, so it’s difficult to avoid it all-together. Here are a few simple ways to reduce plastic pollution all over the planet.
- Say goodbye to single-use
A great first step is to eliminate as much single-use plastic as possible from your everyday life. If you’re still a bit confused about which items can be considered single-use, try asking yourself the question; Is this supposed to be used again? If the answer is “no”, then there is a good chance you are dealing with a single-use plastic item. (Just because you can use an item again, doesn’t mean it’s not single-use. For example, you can refill a water bottle, but it wasn’t intended to be reused.)
You can start combatting plastic waste by simply removing some (or all) of the single-use plastic and plastic based items from your daily life! Here is a list of some items to help get you started;
-Plastic nail brushes
-Make-up removing wipes
-Plastic shopping bags
-Plastic cotton swabs
-Plastic drink bottles
-Plastic bath puffs
-Plastic water bottles
-Plastic-coated paper plates
-Single-use drink cups
- Buy loose goods
Plastic packaging accounts for a large majority of single-use plastic waste. Instead of buying plastic-packaged items, do your best to buy loose goods. More shops and markets are beginning to offer loose good like nuts, rice, legumes and even flours! By purchasing loose and unpackaged goods, you are directly preventing the production of unnecessary plastic packaging. Just make sure not to forget your refillable container to carry and store your products!
Looking for loose goods? Here is a resource for all of our UK readers looking for a shop that offers package-free products in your area!
- Reuse when you can
Plastic has played an incredibly influential role in human innovation, meaning it is almost impossible to remove plastic entirely from your life. Doing your best to avoid using plastic is a great start! However, when you have no choice but to use plastic, reuse it if you can. Refill your water bottle, reuse your plastic bag and wash and reuse your plastic cutlery and cups.
- Talk to your friends and family
Make sure to speak with your friends and family about their usage of single-use plastic. Many people are happy to make small changes to their lives if they truly understand how important it is for our future and the future of the planet. Encourage one another, help out and research even more ways to reduce plastic pollution together.
If you’re interested in reducing your plastic waste, please visit our website ecobathlondon.com to shop our selection of plastic-free bath and lifestyle accessories!