Why Less Plastic?
Plastic bottles, disposable coffee cups, single-use take-away packaging, cling film, plastic sandwich bags… These are just some of the everyday items many of us use (and throw away) without questioning whether they are healthy for us. However, recent research has revealed that plastic containers, wrap and packaging (even those marketed as ‘BPA-free’) all contain a range of toxic chemicals that leach into our food and drink, and have been linked to health issues ranging from hormone disruption to cancer.
Meanwhile the environmental consequences of our addiction to plastic are massive. The production and distribution of plastic has a huge carbon footprint, which is exacerbated because so many plastic products are designed to be disposable, and are destined for the landfill after just one use. Recycling is not the perfect solution either as plastic is never able to be truly recycled and converted back into what it was, i.e. a water bottle cannot be recycled into another water bottle. At best it can be down-cycled into another product, such as textiles, and at worst it ends up in landfill, or littering the countryside, waterways, and oceans – where it will stay forever.
With plastic there is no ‘away’. Our modern obsession with throw-away plastic in the name of convenience comes at a high price. Marine birds and wildlife become entangled, or choke on our plastic waste, or mistake it for food. It eventually breaks down into tiny toxic particles, which are eaten by plankton and fish, entering our food chain. A 2015 study estimated that 90% of the world’s seabirds and 25% of fish contain plastic in their stomachs. By 2050 we expect to see more plastic in our oceans than fish.
We think it’s time we stopped using the oceans as a giant plastic dumping ground. The more people that wake up to the issues of plastic pollution, the greater the impact of positive action. There is an urgent need to address our disposable culture, and a growing movement to bring back some of the values from the past. Choosing to have fewer products that are of higher quality, made from safer materials, and designed to last – rather than filling our lives with cheap, disposable, low quality products made from toxic materials – is better for our health, and better for the planet too.
So what can you do? There are several simple actions you can take to make a positive difference to help tackle plastic pollution. Beach cleans, litter picking in towns and cities (especially near waterways), choosing reusable products over disposable ones, avoiding overly packaged goods – these are just a few examples.
Or use the ideas on the infographic below (and its accompanying blog post) to get you started.
Enjoy your less plastic journey!