Reduce your Plastic Footprint
In the last blog we talked about the urgent need to be socially responsible in order to combat COVD-19. Similarly, we have another contagion which we have nursed and encourage all these years and which is causing great and lasting undesirable impact and harm to our planet to combat – plastics!
Since the introduction of the first polyethylene bag in the 1960’s, the human reliance on the single-use plastic has grown. We have made 8.3bn tons of plastics since then and plastics are having an everlasting devastating effect on the environment. Not only does around eight million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year, but they break down into smaller pieces with particles of micro-plastics eventually finding their way into the food chain.
Since we use plastics in almost every part of our lives, we may not be ready to break up with plastic altogether, but there is some low-hanging fruit that can make a big difference in reducing the amount of disposable plastic in our lives.
Here are some super easy ways to get started.
At Budget 2020, the UK Government announced plans to implement a £200 per tonne tax on plastic packaging which does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. This will apply to plastic packaging which has been manufactured in or imported into the UK.
The purpose of the tax is to encourage the use of recyclable plastics. Although recycling can help reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills, waterways and ecosystems, only a few types of plastics can be recycled by most municipal governments. The fraction about 9% that does get recycled still requires a lot of energy and water which just isn’t a good proposition when it comes to single-use items.
We can reduce our use of surplus or one-off-use disposable plastic items:
- Never leave home without a reusable cloth/paper or biodegradable bag in your bag. You never know when you might enter a shop and be faced with a single-use plastic bag!
- Buy in bulk from your grocer or local farm shop if one is available nearby – buy loose rice, cereal etc and use your own containers that you are going to store them in.
- Choose cardboard and paper packaging for your groceries over plastic wrappings.
- Switch to sustainable packaging made out of renewable resources for your takeaways.Renewable materials such as bio-plastics create 75% less carbon emissions than the conventional plastic. So even if bio-plastic does end up in landfill, fewer emissions have been created along the way. They do not leach BPA or other chemicals into the ground and ground water when they degrade. And, they will certainly break down a lot quicker than Polystyrene, and when they do, the end result will be what they were made from - plant matter.
In the Kitchen
Small things that we take for granted and don’t even notice can have significant impact either way – to make the situation worse or to improve it!
- The innocent tea bags while mostly made of paper-fiber, has around 20-30% polypropylene (PP, i.e. plastic). Imagine the 158 million tea bags a day ending in the landfills! Switch to loose tea and make your cuppa with an infuser.
- Avoid plastic containers and go for glass jars as much as you can as they can be reused.
- Use wet cloth bags to store your veggies in the fridge. They last longer. You can make these bags from cotton towels.
- Bring back the good old milkman. Have your milk bottles delivered, collected and reused.
In the Bathroom
We are better at reducing, reusing and recycling in the kitchen rather than the bathroom. Go plastic-free in the bathroom as much as you can.
- A bamboo toothbrush. The handle is made from bamboo, and the bristles on the replaceable head are biodegradable. After using it you can use the handle as a garden marker.
- Bars of hand-made eco-friendly soap and shampoo instead of plastic bottles.
- Reusable cleaning pads instead of cotton wool pads
- Plastic free ear-buds.
- Chemical free toothpaste in a glass jar that can be reused.
- Disposable razor. Extend its life by cleaning and sharpening it by washing it under running water and pointing it away from you and running it down a pair of denim jeans a few times.
Have fun plucking these low-hanging fruits on the reducing plastics tree and make a difference.