Finally all the evidence is in of why it is important for the health of our planet, animals and future generations to remove single-use disposable plastic from our lives.
Plastic is a fantastically versatile long lasting material. Making it single-use is a wasted resource and we cannot guarantee its management. It now becomes up to each of us to ensure we play our part to stop the poisoning of our world.
1. You Cannot Guarantee Your “Recycled” Plastic is actually being managed responsibly
Once upon a time, most countries (including the developed nations) used to dump their waste into the ocean. Just as the Victorians used to use the Thames River as a dumping ground. Re: https://www.choleraandthethames.co.uk/cholera-in-london/the-great-stink/
None of us can guarantee that the “recyclables” we put in the bin or recycle bins will be responsibly managed even if you believe the packaging is “recyclable”. News from the USA, UK, Australasia, Europe, Singapore, Japan have all been exporting “recycled plastic” to places like China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand. When China stopped importing earlier this year, the developed nations sent even larger quantities to the Asian countries that would accept this potential resource. These places are also known to dump waste into the ocean / landfill and have waste management issues.
Additionally our electronic waste contains heavy metals which is toxic to all animals including ourselves.
Once upon a time Northern Italy used to send their “recyclables” to Calabria to process on their behalf. Sadly the companies have been illegally dumping the waste which has been seen falling into the Mediterranean Sea or simply been openly burning the waste
2014 – Italy was fined by the EU for not managing the illegal waste Ref: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-environment/eu-court-fines-italy-record-40-million-euros-for-illegal-waste-idUSKCN0JG1AJ20141202
2. Photo-degrading plastic produces greenhouse gases
In addition to our recyclables being shipped all around the world, photo-degrading plastic (in landfills and in the ocean) emit methane gas and ethlyene which are 2 powerful greenhouse gases. Seems much more is emitted from single-use disposable plastics!
3. Approx. 1 million animals die each year from plastic consumption
In 2015, a Guardian article highlighted that 90% of birds had plastic in their gut:
Throughout the years, we have been reading about marine life with plastic in their gut. Plastic is junk food offering zero nutrition.
And even land based animals are eating plastic. Deer, cows, goats….
When run / cycle events have used land that have animals on, the participants have still dropped plastic litter on the land in the form of gel packets
4. Unsurprisingly micro-plastic has now been discovered in our gut
It has been known for assumed for some time, and now has been confirmed. If the Whales and Dolphins are anything to go by that have been discovered with plastic, we are slowly poisoning our own societies with hormone disruptors and toxic elements.
5. Recycling plastic is a linear progression towards creating micro-plastic shedding materials like nylon, polyester, etc which also end up in the waste
So we have now created 2 issues: micro-plastic which we are consuming and it will shed in the landfill if it is dumped there.
What Can I Do to Reduce Single-Use / Disposable Plastic Further Entering the Waste Stream?
Each week set yourself a plastic challenge such as the following:
- Find shops that offer plastic free shopping. Search for Zero Waste shops in your area. These will require you to Bring Your Own Reusable
- Support farmers / local markets that often offer produce without packaging
- Learn about the products you purchase. See here for some tips for alternatives to products you might purchase: https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/support-the-challenges/ Sometimes this might lead you to discovering new awesome products when you decide to no longer support brands that have single-use plastic packaging
- Request shops (like clothes) reuse their own plastic packaging
- Just like carrying your own wallet, make it a habit to Bring Your Own Reusable bottle, cup, bag, cutlery as a basic