We need to wake up and tackle plastic pollution.
Reducing plastic waste is important because plastic production requires an enormous amount of energy and resources. This causes carbon emissions and contributes to global warming.
Recycling plastic is ok but definitely not efficient, as only 9% of plastic ever produced, has been recycled, which means 91% of plastic is not! About 60% is dumped in landfills and oceans where it stays for hundreds of years, transforming into ‘microplastics’, leaching into our water supplies and food.
Plastic debris is a universal problem throughout the world’s oceans and yes, we are to blame! An estimated 270,000 tons of plastic in the ocean is thought to be responsible for the extinction of 700 different marine species. Not only whales and fish are killed but also seabirds, like the albatross and the puffin, but also sea turtles who can confuse plastic bags for jellyfish.
Our ecological footprint is growing at an alarming rate. Only a small percentage of all plastic waste is currently recycled into a new product. As a result, the rest of this plastic waste ends up in a landfill, in nature or is incinerated. By 2030, no less than 55% of plastic waste has to be recycled, according to the European Commission. To achieve this, we must strive to separate the plastic waste mix, and process it into pure raw material for high-quality new plastic products.
Plastic waste in the landfills doesn’t biodegrade or decompose and this is exactly why recycling and composting are so important. In developing countries, plastic is practically always thrown away, either in landfill or in nature. And also in Europe, around 50% goes to landfill, so what we need is a global landfill ban.
Microplastics are found in toothpaste, body wash, scrubs, deodorant etc. Watch out for rinse-off cosmetics products which contain Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or Nylon.
Our partner company consistently avoids microplastic in all of its products and is the first cosmetics company using plant-based plastic (sugar cane) for their packaging. Good to know is that certified natural skin care products are not allowed to contain microplastics or any other ingredients derived from mineral oil.
What can WE do?
There are heaps of examples but we just mention a few:
- Plastic bottles are one of the most frequently found items on beaches and the lids commonly end up in seabirds’ stomachs, so…… BYO!
- Get reusable stainless steel or glass straws and stop using plastic ones and if you don’t need one, don’t use one.
- Chewing gum is made of a synthetic rubber, or plastic. There are plastic free alternatives such as Simply Gum, Chewsy and BenBits.
- If you are a dog owner, find BioBags on Chewsy for good poop bags that are biodegradable. The bags don’t belong in the regular trash, because they’ll end up in a landfill, instead, use a dog-waste-only composting bin and don’t put them in your home garden compost or in municipal yard waste bins. Pet waste can be great fertiliser for decorative gardens or just bury it. The last option works best if you live in a rural area with space away from the house. Waste should be buried at least five inches underground, away from vegetable gardens and water sources.
- Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam.
- Take your reusable coffee cup or flask. In Europe alone, millions of coffee cups are thrown away every week. Less than 1% of these can be recycled, meaning most spend up to 50 years in landfill. Why not go for a WWF keepcup?
- Aluminium foil is recyclable, cling film isn’t, and if you are using foil, make sure you put it in the recycling bin after use! Eco-friendly alternatives are available.
- We are using loose leaf tea with a tea strainer instead of teabags that are sealed with plastic. Disposing of teabags ultimately leads to microplastics entering our waterways and eventually our food chain. PG tips tea bags are biodegradable now and also brands like Teapigs and Clipper tea are completely biodegradable.
- Look for zero waste and refill shops in your area and……
- Bring back the milkman!
Will plastic pollution get worse after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Not if it’s up to you and us. But according to a WWF report, ‘If just 1% of the masks were disposed of incorrectly and dispersed in nature, this would result in as many as 10 million masks per month polluting the environment.’ So please…….. dispose of them in a garbage can and don’t be the person that throws them on the ground!
Read more about how our partner company reduces plastics and tries saving the oceans.
Pimm + Marcel
Image source ‘loose tea’ photographed by Harold Pereira