So, plastic is an issue for the environment, humans and landfill, but how do we encourage people to stop using plastic when it’s everywhere?
You can encourage the reduction of plastic use – particularly that of single-use plastics – through making people aware of the problem plastics create and providing alternatives. You can also encourage your City or country to implement single-use plastic bans or taxes.
How Are People Using Plastic?
Plastic is used each and everyday, most places you look. From the packaging on your food and toiletries, to plastic carry bags, water bottles, food and drink containers, to medical devices and packaging as well as even the building industry.
Everywhere you look is plastic! It’s even in your pillows, quilts and other soft toys and packaging/filler.
Why Is Plastic Bad?
Traditional plastic – the type your soft drink bottles, shampoo bottles, plastic bags and takeaway containers are made from – has been around since 1907 and even earlier for the first synthetic plastic created in the 1800s.
Plastic is made from materials such as crude oil, gas, coal, cellulose and salt which are seen as natural materials or resources. The materials undergo a refining process which essentially is then treated by heat and ‘cracked’ before being combined with other materials to create different plastic types to turn into plastics you can use.‘Cracking’ means the degradation of the materials by heating without oxygen – this is the main process breaking down the complex carbons into smaller ‘pieces’ creating the new chemicals for end result.
Unfortunately, because crude oil and natural gas are the main ingredients, this makes the plastic in many cases toxic either to people, animals or the environment when breaking down. Manufacturing products from materials such as crude oil is also bad for the environment, releasing carbon dioxide into the air, and oil itself being toxic to animals and the environment on many levels.
Manufacturing of plastic also uses high amounts of electricity and water and the impact of plastic when it breaks down over decades or centuries contributes toxic residue and pollution for the environment, wildlife and marine life.
What Are Some Eco-Friendly Alternatives?
There are some great alternatives when it comes to plastic, such as biodegradable and compostable. These are currently on the market and can replace items such as carry bags, trash bags and pet poop bags, as well as certain food service items.
There are also a great range of metal, bamboo and glass reusable items such as food containers, coffee cups and water bottles. Plastic bags also come in fabric, recycled plastic and crochet.
How Can We Reduce Single-Use Plastics?
If you’re interested in stopping or reducing your plastic use, then here are some top tips for you! There are many items that can be replaced with plastic alternatives and you can find many of these easily. If you’re looking to make a change, here are five small steps you can take personally to lower your landfill contribution:
- Understand the different plastic alternatives – biodegradable and compostable are two easily available options that can replace many items.
- Identify which plastics you can replace – this could be your shopping carry bags, trash bags, dog poo bags, food and drink containers and disposable cutlery.
- Buy plastic alternatives that suit your lifestyle – you can find these in many standard grocery stores as well as online.
- Encourage your family or business to go compostable or biodegradable – share the benefits and the cost of these items with those close to you.
- Ensure you dispose of correctly in your normal waste – don’t try to dispose of biodegradable in a composter or worm farm OR compostable in normal trash.
Food Industry And Plastics
With the rising awareness of the environment and the impact items like traditional plastic have on waterways, soil and even wildlife, more people are looking for a change. But when it comes to how we package our food, is there a safer option for us and the environment?
Compostable packaging provides a great way for people to package and carry their food in an environmentally friendly and safe way. This is due to the natural materials that make up the compostable item and the eco-friendly way that it breaks down back into natural matter.
What Will Reducing Plastic Use Mean?
The biggest benefit of using plastic alternatives is seen in your environmental footprint and contributing less issues in the manufacturing process. A typical plastic bag can take centuries to thousands of years to break down in landfill and so biodegradable or compostable plastic reduces this time vastly.
There are also less traditional plastic chemicals in biodegradable plastics which means less environmental issues in the future such as pollution, toxicity and methane production in landfill.
Although we currently can’t completely stop using plastic, it’s possible to reduce our own environmental impact. This is by being educated, informed and switching to alternatives to plastic where possible. Consider which small steps you can take in your own life and at your workplace.