How to Reduce Plastic Waste

Plastic waste is having a major impact on the environment. Most single-use plastic items are discarded after being used for just a couple of minutes, but their environmental impact can last for hundreds of years.

Plastic decomposes slowly and can remain a hazard for centuries. As one of the main sources of pollution, a thick plastic bottle used for detergents or soft drinks takes between 450 and 1,000 years to break down. The decomposition rate is particularly slow because the bottles are not biodegradable.

Food with plastic covering

© rufar / Adobe Stock

Wildlife hazards

Even a simple plastic grocery bag can take up to 100 years to fully disintegrate, killing numerous animals and marine creatures in the meantime. A staggering one million seabirds die every year after becoming entangled in plastic. A further 100,000 marine creatures die after suffering the same fate.

The same piece of plastic, whether it's a plastic bag, or packaging from drinks cans, can carry on killing numerous birds and animals over the years until it finally decomposes, centuries down the line. This is because an animal who has died from being entangled in a bag, or from eating plastic, will decompose, but the plastic won't ? now, where is the justice in that?

Yoghurt cartons, drinking straws, toothbrushes, bottle caps, Styrofoam cups, sanitary pads and disposable nappies can take up to 500 years to disintegrate, while the six-pack plastic drinks holders commonly used as packaging for cans of beer take around 90 years to decompose.

Scientists say around two-thirds of the world's fish population are suffering from ingesting plastic, including tiny plastic microbeads from some cosmetic products.

Many people won't even realise they're causing plastic pollution, as they rinse facial scrubs and toothpaste down the sink, but the tiny pieces of plastic will end up in the ocean, where they are inadvertently eaten by marine life.

Many countries have banned microbeads, including the UK. The British government banned the production of microbeads in cleaning products and cosmetics from 9th January 2018. This was followed by a sales ban on 19th June 2018. However, the ban isn't global and some countries are still manufacturing products containing microbeads.

Sea of rubbish

Massive amounts of plastic debris in the ocean were revealed in a shocking video filmed by diver Rich Horner off the tourist island of Bali in 2018. His footage revealed a horrific abundance of plastic, including bags, bottles and buckets.

According to environmental body Greenpeace, there are four main sources of ocean waste: Around 20% of plastic debris is caused by discarded fishing gear, including nets, lines and floats, plus other items thrown off boats.

Industrial materials also create plastic waste. In particular, a nurdle is a small plastic pellet that is shipped around the world to be formed into other goods, but before it reaches its destination, it can end up falling into the sea by accident or being illegally dumped near the coastline or in rivers. Fibres from synthetic clothing can also end up in the water system during washing.

The bulk of litter in the ocean comes from land, according to Greenpeace - and much of this comes from single-use plastics, such as fast food wrappers.

Urgent change needed!

It's clear that something must be done urgently, before the damage to our planet is beyond repair. While some governments are waking up to the hazards that waste plastics are causing, introducing more recycling and other environmental initiatives as a result, individuals can make a difference too.

You may feel powerless to do anything in the face of the rising tide of waste, but on the contrary, if every individual started to live a greener lifestyle, making simple changes at home and at work, then the changes would begin to grow on a larger scale.

If everyone was willing to make some small changes, this would all add up to one big significant change, which would go on to become the social norm.

What can you do to help?

One of the main changes you can make is to ban single-use plastics in your home. These include beverage cups, balloons, plastic bags, disposable crockery and cutlery, straws, single-use water bottles and items from the supermarket that contain too much plastic packaging.

Now that supermarkets are charging customers to buy a plastic bag, shoppers are getting used to taking reusable bags with them. Make sure you always shop plastic-free by taking your own bags or other containers with you to the supermarket.

Extend this practice to other activities. When you buy a takeaway coffee, take a reusable cup with you. Don't have a plastic straw when you buy a soft drink and use a refillable water bottle. If you eat takeaway food at work, don't use throwaway plastic cutlery. Keep your own reusable knife and fork in your drawer.

If you're hosting an event such as a buffet, or a barbecue, avoid plastic dinnerware. Use your own cutlery and plates and if you don't have enough, borrow some from friends rather than buying throwaway packs.

If everyone did this, imagine how much less plastic we'd be using!

Handy "green" tips

Other tips include washing and keeping jars such as pasta sauce jars as storage containers for small items in the home.

Store food items in good-quality reusable containers rather than throwaway plastic wrap. They will last for years and can be used time and time again.

When you buy fruit and vegetables, don't buy the pre-packaged variety in a plastic wrapper from the supermarket. Go to your local greengrocer instead, where you can buy loose produce. Carry it home in your own reusable bags. Similarly, if you go to a bakery, use your own bags.

Don't forget to take your own bags when clothes shopping too - the plastic bags used by many clothing retailers are particularly large and thick and take longer to decompose.

Try not to use plastic bin liners - put your waste directly in the bin instead and make sure you wash it well after it has been emptied, to avoid residue. Introduce your own waste recycling scheme at home, school or work, separating your rubbish into different bins for thoughtful disposal.

If you need to buy new storage containers for your home, buy Euronorm ECO recycled plastic Euro containers. They are available in many different sizes and are as sturdy as containers made from new plastic.

Once you start thinking green, it becomes a way of life to live in a more environmentally-friendly way. Bring in changes gradually, until it becomes the norm ? you won?t feel a thing, promise!

Solent Plastics

We wholeheartedly support green initiatives and we are doing everything we can to sustain the earth's future. Please give us a call on 01794 514478 for further information on our products.

Here?s to a more eco-friendly world!