The Problems Presented By Plastic Misuse & How To Combat Them
Today plastics dominate our lives. We use a shocking amount of plastic on a daily basis, often without even realising it. Some of the day to day plastic that we use includes plastic carrier bags, water bottles, the packaging that our food is wrapped in, beauty products, sanitary towels and cleaning products.
According to the United Nations Environmental Program, between 22 percent and 43 percent of the plastic used worldwide is disposed of in landfills. All this plastic is being wasted and more importantly, causing huge environmental problems.
It releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere when burnt, kills ocean life and leaves unnecessary waste all over our planet. Experts are now describing some of the oceans around Australia as a ‘plastic soup’ filled with all sorts of plastic debris. Is this really how we want to treat our planet?
Plastics are here to stay. Literally. In the environment plastics will photodegrade which means they break up into smaller and smaller pieces, but they won’t disappear. To manage the build up of our waste we have a few different options: landfill, burn, or attempt to recycle.
Plastic is a killer. It kills millions of seabirds and ocean creatures every year who get caught up in plastic debris and discarded fishing nets, or end up trying to ingest plastic. In recognition of their impact countries such as Bangladesh or China banned the use of single plastic bags fourteen years ago. The UK introduced a charge on single use plastic carrier bags in 2015.
What can you do to help?
Environmental and health issues are down to human behaviour. The good news is that this means that there is a recognisable solution, behaviour change. The bad news is that changing people’s behaviour worldwide isn’t an easy task. Plastic is one of the biggest environmental problems, yet it has a pretty straightforward solution: change behaviour.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Three simple words to live by. If we can reduce our consumption that is great. If you have to buy plastic then at least make an effort to reuse it. Many things can be safely reused over and over again. If you cannot reuse something then recycle it. A lot of plastics can’t be recycled so do check with your local authority.
Plastic water bottles
Can you invest in a long lasting bottle and save yourself the hassle and money of buying single use plastic bottles? People spend a lot more than they realise on plastic bottles each year, you could save quite a bit of money by investing in a reusable water bottle.
If you are caught out and you need to buy a plastic bottle, try and remember to take the lid off and rinse it out when you recycle it. Young children overseas painstakingly unscrew every bottle top from the plastic bottles so that the bottles can be recycled (different plastics) that high income countries ship for recycling.
Instead of using plastic bags, get into the habit of carrying a small foldaway bag in your handbag. Also when you are buying your weekly food shop, or any products, try and avoid buying things with lots of plastic packaging.
Make a song and dance
We need to start questioning companies not only why they are using so much plastic (it costs the earth but it also costs them and therefore us). Excessive packaging equals higher charges for us.
Can they look at innovative ways to protect our produce? Does a beauty or hygiene product really need plastic in it? It’s frustrating that more supermarkets don’t provide biodegradable bags such as corn based for fruit and vegetables. Don’t be afraid to question companies and try and inspire change.
These are just some of the things you can do to help. There are so many ways you can alter your lifestyle in order to help the environment. You might not think you can personally make a huge difference, but every little helps.
David is an expert on recycling and is passionate about helping to save our planet. He regularly writes for environmental, eco-living and recycling websites and is a key writer for kedel.co.uk, a company that sells recycled plastics.
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This post was written by the contributor and is a PfU.K. Directory submission.
And the Pf U.K. Directory is…?
…a directory of UK-based groups, organisations businesses and individuals who are responding to the problems presented by the misuse of plastic. That does not mean anti-plastic necessarily but certainly plastic-problem aware.
The DIRECTORY is to promote their fantastic work. Read more here…
Got a project?
It is very easy to get a project featured. Each contributor submits a short synopsis of their project, focussing on the plastic aware element and I post it. You can read the submission guidelines here.