Single use plastics reduction tips
As you may already know, plastics have a large carbon footprint. On the current course, emissions will reach 17% of the global carbon budget by 2050. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that has ever been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled. The vast majority of the rest—79 percent—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter.
How to ‘Green’ your life and reduce plastic in the process:
Your internet browser is your friend here, many answers to your plastic reducing questions are available online at the click of a mouse.
Choose to refuse. When planning to buy something, ask yourself ‘do I really need this? Is there a non plastic alternative? Can I make it myself, borrow from a friend, or ask on my local community donation program?’ Facebook has many local ‘Notice boards’ offering free items, or check out your local ‘Freecycle’. For every plastic item there is probably a non-plastic twin out there to be found.
Look at ‘Planned Obsolescence’, notice how your old phone stops being any use, the light bulbs break, the printer stops working? You probably know this is no accident, ‘Perceived Obsolescence’ ‘this old phone of mine doesn’t look as nice as the new ones around’ and the ‘Circular Economy’ (an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources). Speak to retailers when you buy and challenge them to challenge themselves and their suppliers to reduce plastic in their packaging and products.
Substitutes to plastic such as vegetable or corn starch alternatives to plastic plates, cutlery, bags etc. are not compostable in a domestic situation and will carry their own carbon and ecological footprints. The term ‘biodegradeable’ on packaging is meaningless without context, even a plastic bottle will eventually biodegrade. We encourage you to do your own research to choose the best option for yourself.
The book ‘How Bad are Bananas: the carbon footprint of everything’ by Mike Berners-Lee written in 2010 may provide some answers.
We have been inspired in our suggestions by the following groups:
- Plastic Free Challenge https://www.mcsuk.org/plastic-challenge
- The Marine Conservation Society https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/
- Surfers against Sewage https://www.sas.org.uk/
- Transition Stroud https://www.transitionstroud.org/stroud-district-action-on-plastic/
‘Plastic Free July’ is a worldwide movement with over 326 milion participants this year and encourages us to cut down on plastic. In support we produced our own daily Facebook posts throughout July 2020, focussing on separate areas of the home and our lives. Collected here are many of the tips we came up with, along with some helpful comments and suggestions from our contributors.