In the 1950s plastic became one of the most commonly used materials in the world and it still holds that position today. Back then humanity hadn’t realised how damaging the plastic was going to become in the next few decades.
Between 1950-2015 plastic production reached 7.8 billion tons which leaves us with over 1 tonne of plastic per person on our planet today, demonstrating how it’s one of the least sustainable materials in the 21st Century. We also know we ought to drastically reduce our environmental impact and plastic production in order to save the planet and ourselves, as well as millions of other species. But how can we truly make a difference? Is using paper straws enough?
Let’s look at the statistics: if plastic straws were banned worldwide we would only reduce ocean plastic by 0.03%. Almost half of total global waste consists of packaging of various products and another 20% is derived from marine industry equipment that ends up discarded by the fishing industry. The ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is largely comprised of plastic lines, ropes and fishing nets accounting for 52 percent of the plastic mass. Cutting back on fish consumption would be the most effective way to reduce ocean plastic.
More than 10 percent of total waste is from fashion commerce which is also the second most polluting industry in the world. To tackle this problem, try to shop for organic clothing or simply buy second hand! It is very important for us to realise that our polyester sweater is nothing else but a bunch of plastic.
“Start carrying reusable shopping bags, a refillable water bottle and preparing lunch boxes at home to take to uni. Think twice before buying balloons for your friend’s birthday party – is it really necessary?”
What else can we do to live waste free? One way is to start carrying reusable shopping bags, a refillable water bottle and preparing lunch boxes at home to take to uni. Think twice before buying balloons for your friend’s birthday party – is it really necessary? Try to have zero waste at home and swap every plastic item for an alternative material, for example a wooden chopping board instead of a plastic one. Prices of these items are similar and you get an extra bonus of durability by picking the wooden kitchen utensil!
If you were to choose one room in your house to become zero waste it would definitely have to be your bathroom. Instead of bottled conditioners, shampoos and shower gel, use soaps and shampoo/conditioner bars. As an alternative to plastic razors, purchase one decent quality safety razor that will last you forever and your only worry will be stocking up the blades every now and then. Other things worth looking into are bamboo toothbrushes, homemade deodorants and menstrual cups.
“People’s attitudes are changing for the better and the tendency to be more conscious and eco-friendly is growing”
As David MacKay outlined: ‘If we all do a little, we’ll only achieve a little’ meaning that in order to save our planet, we need to start acting dramatically as it’s in no one’s interest to save our planet ‘only a little’. People’s attitudes are changing for the better and the tendency to be more conscious and eco-friendly is growing. This helps us to believe in a plastic free future that can one day become a reality instead of regarding entirely ditching plastic as an unreachable utopia.
Last modified: 20th October 2019