2018 has been the year plastics have been making headlines. We are slowly waking up to the massive impact and damage, plastics are having on our world.
Plastic can be recycled, so why is there such a problem? The truth is, plastics can only be recycled between one and eight times. Our plastic bottles are hardly ever recycled into more plastic bottles! Instead, they end up as components in non recyclable products, which inevitably end up in landfill or the oceans & waterways. This doesn’t mean recycling isn’t worth bothering with. Recycling helps us re-use what we can. It is not however, a magic wand that makes the problem disappear.
A major part of the plastic problem, are what are known as ‘single-use plastics’. These are items we use for convenience for just a few minutes, but which take 400-1000 years to decompose. Around 50% of our plastic usage is ‘single-use’, such as plastic bottles, cups, straws, cutlery, packaging etc and it’s these plastics we really need to focus on replacing.
“It’s only one straw…said 8 billion people”.
There are many single-use plastic items we can easily live without or replace.
Plastic straws. Many restaurants and food outlets are now replacing their straws with paper ones, or not using them altogether. Play your part and ask for ‘no straw’ next time you order a drink. If you do need a straw, consider carrying a reusable metal one.
Plastic bottles. Carry a reusable drinks bottle with you. In the UK, we use over 38.5 million plastic bottles every single day. Many public places are now installing water fountains where you can fill up. Try asking for tap water in restaurants instead of bottled water. As long as you are also ordering food, this is acceptable and tap water is perfectly ok to drink in the UK.
Reusable coffee cups. Seven million disposable coffee cups are used in the UK every day and most can’t be recycled due to the plastic lining. 2018 has seen a real cultural shift start to happen and almost all the major coffee chains now accept customers’ own reusable cups.
Plastic cutlery. There are good alternatives to plastic cutlery such as bamboo which is lightweight, easy to carry & reusable. If you regularly buy lunch out, consider investing in one of these picnic sets.
Plastic bags. We are now quite used to taking our own bags to the supermarket. Think about what other plastic bags you can refuse such as the thin plastic produce bags for example. There is nothing wrong with buying produce loose!
Plastic packaging. The supermarket Morrisons is leading the way in encouraging shoppers to bring their own containers to buy meat & deli items in an effort to reduce waste. Many independents are also happy for you to buy produce in this way so it’s worth asking.
Reducing our plastic usage is vital if we are to prevent our planet becoming one massive trash can. Forming new habits can take time, but with a little thought and organisation, we can all make a big difference. And there are big benefits on a personal level too to reducing plastic! Better for you, better for the planet. Find out more here.
Join thousands of others this ZeroWasteWeek & start reducing your plastic too, one piece at a time.