What Are The Real Issues With Single-Use Plastic? What is single-use plastic? Single use plastics are any plastic that is designed to be used only once, often to contain food or other items. These include take away food containers, drink bottles, straws, coffee cups, packaging and plastic carry bags. Sometimes these plastics can be recycled, for example, plastic bottles and now soft plastics can be recycled by REDcycle to make bench seats. However, the sad truth is that a lot of single use plastic is thrown into landfill.
What are the real issues with single-use plastic? The top 3 are:
- Plastic components leach into our food and water and are a threat to our health.
- Plastic is choking up our oceans and has a grave effect on marine life.
- Plastic in landfill degrades, releasing its toxic components into our soils and groundwater.
Plastic and Our Health
Choice has just released an article that explains the health issues related to plastic and the components it is made of. To view this article, click here. In summary, the polymer molecules in plastic is not the problem but the smaller molecules released as plastic breaks down are small enough to migrate into our food and water. These molecules such as BPAs and phthalates are endocrine disruptors, mimicking our natural hormones. There is growing evidence that BPAs and Phthalates cause problems such as infertility, obesity, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes (for detail see the article).
Plastic And Our Oceans
In the last few months we have seen the devastating effects of plastic on our marine life and the
plastic lake that is floating freely in the sea near the Caribbean (click here to see the video). Despite our best efforts, plastic containers, bottles, bags, and straws are landing up in the ocean. Research done in the UK has found that most fish caught for the market contain plastic in some shape or form. Sea turtles and even whales are not only being ensnared by plastic but die due to the ingestion of plastic.
Plastic And Landfill
90% of plastic used, particularly single use, is sent to landfill. The world produces about 300 million tons of plastic per year. It is estimated that 7 million tons land up in the ocean and the rest of the 90% not recycled ends up in landfill. In landfill, plastic breaks down into its smaller components and leaches into our soils and the water table, once again making its way into our food and ultimately our bodies affecting our health.
This is not the first advancement that we have made in human history that after many years is found to be detrimental to our health and the environment. Although the advent of plastic has made our lives much easier, it has come at a price.
So what can you do to eradicate the use of particularly single use plastic in your home and family? Here are some tips.
- Replace your plastic bottle with a glass bottle or reusable container. Don’t purchase water in plastic bottles.
- When buying coffee, bring your own mug and request that that be used instead of the paper cups and lids.
- Make your own coffee in a coffee pot instead of using coffee pods.
- Learn to drink your beverages without straws.
- Buy vegetables that are not packaged in layers of plastic. Here you can find a farmers market or a good greengrocer.
- Take reusable bags when shopping and refuse the plastic bags when checking out.
- Collect all those plastic bags that you are unable to get rid of and find a place that takes recycled plastic. Often one of the big chain stores have this facility.
Once you make the commitment to stop accepting single use plastic, it then becomes a habit. Not so long ago people would stare at you if you brought your own shopping bags and the checkout attendant would not be happy! But now no one blinks an eye when you BYO shopping bags or coffee cup. It is now trendy to be plastic free! And quite pretty too! Boomerang Bags are funky and are available everywhere. If you forget your ‘Green’ bags, never fear, you can use Boomerang Bags and return them next time. Wax wraps, which replace plastic film wrap, are available in all sort of groovy fabrics and are very easy to make. Straws are also a big problem. Plastic straws are simply unnecessary! Would we be severely impacted if straws were not offered? No, we would still survive! We need to change the habit. The Last Straw is a campaign to end the use of the plastic straw in venues around Australia. It is also up to us to make the change. Saying no to single use plastic is the only way to get the message across. It starts with every one of us. You can make a difference.
Our next wax wrap-making workshop will be on Friday, 19 October.
Bookings are essential. To book wax-cloth workshop click here