Plastic has become an integral part of our lives and our households over recent decades. However, this material we now seem to be so dependent on is highly damaging to our environment, flooding our oceans and filling up our landfills to the brim. Arguable, the most substantial issue and the largest environmental threat is single-use packaging, which most of our kitchens are full of. However, this is not where the issue of plastic ends – and not the only kind of plastic that contributes to plastic pollution.
Make your consumption decision wisely, from our kitchens to our bathrooms, we can all help protect the environment if we just start limiting the amount of plastic we use in our everyday life. Here’s why, and how!
Where Does Plastic Come From?
Plastic is made from crude oil, which comes with a whole list of environmental negatives. It is associated, among other damage, with the release of methane (a greenhouse gas 84x more potent than CO2), oil spills, environmental destruction, and species endangerment. With the decreasing cost of petrochemical, new plastics are now cheaper to produce, therefore increasing their production worldwide. This is alarming because plastic production is currently responsible for 5% of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Where Does It Go?
However, the biggest problem with plastic is what happens after it is used. Plastic is a very durable material which can last for decades but so much of it being used today is for short-term purposes, such as food packaging, which will be thrown away in a matter of minutes. The material which has only been used for a short amount of time then spends decades or even centuries slowly falling apart into microscopic plastic particles – only for the sake of our convenience.
As the plastic decomposes, it does not completely become one with the earth. Instead, it breaks down into microscopic plastic particles called microplastics. These become particularly troubling as they make their way into the ocean, where their concentration is rapidly increasing.
The Issue With Plastic Pollution
So, what does plastic pollution actually do, except for sticking around for a very long time? Our landfills are getting filled up by more and more waste everyday – and plastic will stay in the current form for a very long time, which means we will have to create more landfills to accommodate for all the waste. Beautiful nature, suburban areas and other places will be destroyed to make sure we have more places to send our waste.
Plastic becomes a major concern when it accumulates in the ocean – from littering, badly managed landfills, poor recycling systems and other sources. It presents a danger to marine animals, who can get trapped in it or ingest it and gain false feeling of being full. As a result, they stop eating anything, leading to starvation and lack of access to nutrients that are essential for their survival.
However, that is not where the journey of plastic ends. Many marine organisms, including those we put on our plates, contain microplastics now. That way, plastic is making the way back into our homes – and in our stomach.
Limiting Household Plastic
If you are relying on a lot of plastic in your everyday life, limiting your impact on the environment may seem like a daunting task. But remember that every single positive change counts and makes our world a greener place altogether. Here are some ideas to help you limit your household plastic one step at a time – it’s a good idea to start with one change and pick up more as you go:
- Avoid buying products that are packaged in plastic and buy package-free alternatives instead. Avoid putting your groceries in plastic bags, they can go into your shopping bags as they are. In addition, you might want to give reusable produce bags a try when you are buying loose fruits and vegetables (and never buy pre-packaged stuff). At Wooliio, not only our products are plastic-free, the packages that we use are also plastic-free and made from recyclable material.
- Get a reusable water bottle to fill up at a tap anywhere you go – you will never have to buy bottled water again, saving a lot of plastic.
- Use your own reusable straws and cutlery when you order takeout. Avoid taking the single-use plastic ones from the restaurant.
- Switch to plastic-free alternatives for any products you may frequently be using. For example, bamboo toothbrushes and bamboo cotton swaps make a great option instead of the plastic ones.