Listen to “Life Without Plastic. Is it Possible?“.
From polluting oceans and harming wildlife, to filling up landfills for decades without decomposing, plastic is having devastating short term and long term effects on our planet.
Plastic was considered a wonder material when it was first created. It was cheap and brilliantly robust – so robust that it’s virtually non-degradable. Every piece of plastic ever produced is still here on the planet, causing untold harm to both the natural world and human society.
Societies have become so increasingly dependent on plastic products, that making the shift to living with less plastic, or even living plastic-free, will be a challenge.
We contribute an estimated 12m tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year. The damage this is doing to marine life will be irreversible if we don’t find a way to stop.
Plastic straws are one of the most dangerous problems posed to marine life. The National Geographic calls them “one of the most insidious polluters” and yet Americans use over 500 million straws a day.
The European Parliament has approved a ban on single-use plastics such as straws, plates, cutlery and cotton-swab sticks in Europe by 2021, joining a global shift as environmentalists emphasise the urgency of halting the use of materials that are detrimental to the planet.
The states of Hawaii and North Carolina have banned plastic bags, and states in Australia and India have done the same. Italy, China, Bangladesh, many countries in Africa including Rwanda, Kenya, the Congo, and South Africa have banned disposable plastic bags.
How to reduce plastic pollution in your daily life
1. Choose reusables
Replace plastic grocery bags with reusable cloth bags or single-use paper bags
Bring a reusable coffee mug or travel cup if you buy takeaway coffee
Shop at farmers’ markets where you can use your own containers
Use refillable lighters or matches
2. Find alternatives
If you do need to purchase single-use items, pay attention to the materials they’re made of. This also goes for packaging, which accounts for a substantial portion of plastic waste. You can buy laundry detergent in a cardboard box, for example, rather than a plastic container.
3. Recycle more
Before buying items made of plastic or that use plastic packaging, check to see whether it’s recyclable. Today, many kinds of plastics are. However, check the rules in your local area to find out what you can and can’t recycle.
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Reduce the number of things you buy.
Reuse the things you buy
Recycle the stuff you don’t need either in a recycling bin or the compost.