If you have not seen the images of plastic waste wreaking havoc on the environment, then you must be living somewhere… where there is no plastic pollution? If that’s the case – you must be living on a different planet, because at this point, plastic particles have even been found in our air and rainwater.
The problem with plastics is that they do not ever go away. The plastic just continues to degrade into smaller and smaller particles until we can no longer see them. But, they are there, and they aren’t going anywhere.
Recycling is a band-aid option. It is an option because we currently do not have a better alternative. It has been estimated that the amount of plastics will outnumber fish and marine life by the year 2050. It has also been estimated that plastic production and consumption will increase by at least 40% over the next ten years. Fossil fuel companies are investing in production, and now with the push of a pandemic, we are using more single-use plastic than before.
I have been phasing out plastics in my life and home since 2013, and this year a lot of that changed because of what was “allowed”. However, I am still finding ways to reduce it, refuse it, and to make my way without it. It’s hard. When you look around the room you are sitting in – how much plastic do you see? How do we get away from it?
Recycling is not enough. A very small percentage of plastic is actually recycled, the rest goes to landfill. Recycling plastic is very expensive, and sometimes impossible depending on the type; it costs municipalities money and resources to process plastic for recycling, so we really process it twice: once as recycling, and then again as garbage. Plastic can only be recycled once or twice – the quality degrades so much, that it cannot be reused, so ends up in landfill. There is not a big market for recycled plastics. Recycling should be our last resort.
Firstly, we must REFUSE it and seek healthier alternatives. Secondly, we must heavily REDUCE our use of and dependence on it. Thirdly, we must REUSE the plastic we already have – make it last as long as possible as something else (i.e. using yogurt container tubs to store frozen meals, like soup).
I have written a lot about the plastic-free topic, so here are some of my top picks:
How do you get plastic-free? Have you made some changes in the recent years? Are you aware of the plastic problem? How is it approached where you live?