We are addicted to disposable plastic trash. National Geographic reported of 8.3 billion metric tons of all plastic produced, 6.3 billion metric tons is plastic waste. Of that, only 9% has been recycled. 79% is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter: See https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/
But with a bit of effort we can change this by changing our habits. Here are the challenges:
Level 1: REDUCE by BYOR (bring your own reusable):
Use one of the following instead of a disposable. Once you are comfortable carrying one of them in your bag, try more. It is all about creating habits and reducing the amount of disposables we use.
- Cloth bag (in case you want to purchase stuff)
- Reusable water bottle
- Cup as many places serve plastic.
- Plate and cutlery to canteens and parties that serve plastic
- Take away containers for restaurants
- Towel – to dry your hands in public bathrooms
Level 2: Reuse & Refuse
Work your way through this list:
- Refuse to purchase or accept items that will be sold in un-necessary plastic packaging.
Shop at places that require you to BYO “packaging” to reduce plastic food packaging. Want to “kick the plastic habit”? https://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk/shop-without-excess-packaging/ and there are shops that sell goods in zero packaging. The web is your friend to find these places 🙂
- Refuse products that contain micro-beads. For a list of those products see here: http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/product-lists/
- For people with babies – consider elimination communication to ditch the nappies, save money and have a closer relationship with your child 🙂
- For bin liners consider reusing the empty plastic food bags if you purchase foods with plastic packaging.
- Freecycle (https://www.freecycle.org/search) stuff
- Lots on the web for craft and ways to reuse plastic, especially plastic bottles
- For women – consider “reusable sanitary ware” such as a menstrual cup and/or cotton cloth pads that can be washed (web searches will tell you what you can get locally)
Level 3 Challenge: Repair and Upcycle
- Learn to fix stuff and upcycle. Lots of resources on the web to show you how.
- Repair cafes are popping up around the world. The USA and UK have Repair Cafe. Singapore has Repair Kopitiam.
Level 4 Challenge: Request
- Request the government installs water dispensers in public places like air ports and train stations so that you can fill up your own bottle
- Request events like marathons to consider encouraging participants to bring their own bottles and provide water dispensers at tables.
- Request organisations package goods in environmental packaging.
A final on types of packaging as there is confusion between the terms Degrade-able (and some companies mean this but call their packaging bio-degradeable) vs Biodegrade-able vs Compostable: http://green-plastics.net/posts/85/the-difference-between-degradable-biodegradable-and-compostable/
Thank you if you have gone all the way to level 4. Collectively we can make this a better world.
What happened to Recycle? Plastic is a low priority to many municipals around the world. So get this: glass, metal, cardboard has a recycle rate of about 99%; plastic on average around the world has a recycle rate of 10%. That means over 90% of the world’s plastic is landfilled / illegally dumped / incinerated. We can stop this.
Look at what’s in your bin and be responsible for what you throw away.