Everywhere we look we see plastic; in our supermarkets, cosmetics, clothes, electronics, household items, the list goes on. But the real question is, what can we do about it? Why isn’t recycling enough?
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues we face today. Unfortunately all of the countries in the world are unable to deal with the rapidly increasing production of plastic. Sure, it seems that “first world” countries have it all figured out with their recycling programs however, these recycling programs are flawed and ineffective.
Only 9% of the plastic in world is recycled. The other 91% ends up in one of two locations, landfill where it takes approximately 450 years to break down, or the ocean where it takes more that 450 years to break down. The solution? Choose to avoid plastic at all costs.
Where does plastic come from?
Plastic is derived from materials that are made from fossil fuels (oil and gas). A “fossil fuel” is a term given to the coal, oil and gas that was formed underground millions of years ago from the carbon-rich remains of animals and plants. The process of extracting fossil fuels out of the ground, as well as transporting and manufacturing the material, emits billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. So yes, not only does the material ruin ecosystems around the world at the end of its life, it also pollutes the atmosphere with its creation.
Plastic is a material that has caused many developments in the world. Electronics, transportation and modern medicine were all developed because of plastic. The convenience that plastic has offered the world has however, led to a throw-away culture. Today, 40% of the plastic produced is used once and for mere minutes. Once single-use plastic has reached he end of its lifespan, it persists in the environment for hundred of years.
The biggest culprits
Multiple states in Australia and other countries around the world have started to implement policies that aim to reduce single-use plastics in the form of straws, cutlery and polystyrene cups. This is great! However, taking a walk down an aisle in the supermarket will show that we are far from our goals of a plastic free planet. Food packaging is the leading culprit of single-use plastic use in the world today. But, everyone needs to eat so what can be done about it?
Tips to cut single-use plastic
- Write a plastic audit to figure out where most of the plastic is coming from.
- Work through the list and create alternatives to the common plastic items.
- Invest in reusable items that you can use to replace commonly used plastic items.
- Shop at bulk stores. If this is not possible, prioritise plant food and food that comes in paper.
- Start making more food from scratch while not making it too difficult for yourself.
- Be inventive and don’t be afraid to ask shops for plastic-free alternatives. For example, taking a reusable bread bag to a bakery rather than buying the plastic one with the plastic clip in a regular supermarket.
- Ask for help. If this seems overwhelming, we are here to help!
Lastly, and the most important step: BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Nobody can change overnight. Making sustainable changes can a long process and nobody is perfect. Evaluate expectations, set goals and make posivite change!
If you spent time reading this blog, you are already on your way! Keep learning and taking steps for a better planet!
Major, K. (2021). Plastic waste and climate change – what’s the connection?. Retrieved 28 September 2021, from http://Major, K. (2021). Plastic waste and climate change – what’s the connection?. Retrieved 28 September 2021, from https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/plastic-waste-and-climate-change-whats-the-connection#gs.chlrx8
Parker, L. (2021). Plastic pollution facts and information. Retrieved 28 September 2021, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution
The Process Of Recycling Plastic is a Myth – Plastic Soup Foundation. (2021). Retrieved 28 September 2021, from https://www.plasticsoupfoundation.org/en/plastic-problem/bogus-solutions/recycling-myth/?gclid=CjwKCAjw-sqKBhBjEiwAVaQ9a-uwtO_EoH9J6x2IZAfkUZzcXnjUTN7G82WIA6aM_UtUThCKgGHGHhoC68MQAvD_BwE
The state of Australia’s recycling – how did we get into this mess?. (2021). Retrieved 28 September 2021, from https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/the-state-of-australias-recycling-how-did-we-get-into-this-mess#gs.chlbe3