Single-use plastic is one of the most monumental problems of all. Did you know that the world has nine billion tons of plastic? This is equivalent to 4 Mount Everest worth of waste – and just 9% is recycled?
Understanding Single-Use Plastics
Single-use plastic is easy to understand. It refers to plastic packaging that cannot be used again and may or may not be recycled depending on the plastic material type, hence its name.
Here’s a list of some single-use plastic items:
- Plastic cutlery
- Plastic shopping bags
- Disposable plastic lids for hot drinks
- Plastic water bottles
- Take-away boxes and drinks’ cups
- Cigarette ends
- Food wraps
- Bottle caps
All of these are common, everyday items that pose a hazard to the environment. To lead a pure living lifestyle, it is wise to take note of your own plastic packaging that you purchase and make a vow not to buy products that involve single-use plastic.
On a positive note, many huge global companies have sat up and taken notice of the environmental dangers of single-use plastic. For example, Hyatt Hotels, Starbucks and McDonalds banned single-use plastic (in some countries).
Many countries around the world are joining forces to stop the use of single-use plastic; some have started their bans (16 in all) including UK, USA and Taiwan. India will follow later. Additionally, there are 127 countries that have some form of legislation in place to curb the use of this type of plastic. Many countries have taxation on carry bags, for example, in some states in India if you go shopping to a supermarket, you are asked to pay for carry bags, therefore, encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags with them and re-use.
India’s single-use plastic ban comes with the plan that all single-use plastics will be scrapped by 2022. The ban will mean corporations such as airports, hotels, offices and airlines will eventually remove all use of single-use plastic, replacing it with recyclable plastic or cardboard and paper. The ban covers the import and manufacturing of single-use plastic. This is a fantastic initiative. India has one of the biggest coastlines in the world, and so is responsible for some of the pollution problems in the oceans surrounding the country. This ban will help to prevent marine life from going into extinction. It also will positively impact on the toxicity problem of the chemicals that linger from decomposing plastic, so that humans and land animals don’t ingest the harmful chemicals that could endanger their lives.
Why is Single-Use Plastic Harming the Environment?
Plastics don’t biodegrade; they just slowly turn into microplastics. Not only does it pose danger to marine life, these micro-plastics release toxic chemicals that eventually transfer into the atmosphere, plant life and animal tissue. Remember, we humans eat meat, fish, fruit and vegetables – even a strict vegan is not safe from these toxic chemicals.
150 million tons of plastic is literally floating around in our oceans, poisoning the fish and plant life. It’s also getting worse. Every year, 8 million tons of plastic lands up in the water and if it doesn’t stop, by 2050, ultimately there could be more plastic than fish.
What can We Do?
We can all be more aware of what single-use plastic we have in our homes, it’s definitely time to own up, take action and change! Why not start your day by brushing with a bamboo toothbrush. Every toothbrush manufactured since 1930 is still on our planet. That's billions and billions of them!!
Don’t use shopping bags made of plastic, instead use cloth bags or paper bags for shopping. Take your own flasks of tea or coffee to work, use coffee shops that provide reusable disposable cups. Don’t buy plastic water bottles – use a Chilly bottle or similar flask-type instead. Never buy plastic straws, buy paper instead –refuse if offered.
On a positive note, more and more countries are taking ownership of the single-use plastic problem. This is all good news, but we as individuals also need to take responsibility to live a pure lifestyle. Every person on the planet should take note, get on-board and lead a life which as far as possible involves only using recyclable materials.
In a world of environmental dangers, we need to own up, act and change to make it a better place for future generations.