'Peel off the cling film and switch to soap': 10 easy ways to reduce your use of plastics in 2019
Sandra Laville explains why we can't recycle our way out of the plastics problem and suggests ways to reduce your footprint
Plastic has become perhaps the most demonized material of the last 12 months, as the scale of pollution in the oceans becomes increasingly apparent.
With dire predictions that if nothing is done, there will be more plastic in the seas by weight than in fish by 2050, it has become clear that we cannot recycle our way out of the plastic problem.
More than 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year. Meanwhile, virgin plastic production continues at an accelerated rate and is projected to increase by 40% over the next 10 years as more virgin plastic products are made than recycled
But consumer pressure can force change. The Guardian revealed this year that supermarkets alone put 1 million tons of plastic packaging on the market.
But they are increasingly aware that if their customers lose faith, they will lose money. Nearly a quarter of consumers surveyed earlier this year said they were extremely concerned about plastic packaging. More than half said they were doing what they could to reduce plastic use.
In Australia, public pressure led many supermarkets this year to announce that they were phasing out single-use plastic bags. These include Coles, Woolies, and Harris Farm.
Plastic production uses enormous resources: it takes about 12 million barrels of oil to make the 100 billion plastic bags used annually in the United States alone.
This year, the Icelandic supermarket has led the way, and others are starting to follow suit. Iceland has committed to eliminating plastic packaging on its own products within five years.
So what can you do to reduce your own plastic footprint and put pressure on supermarkets and manufacturers to move towards reusable plastic items and vastly increase the amount of recycled plastic in their products? Here are 10 top tips:
- Start at home. Do a plastic audit of your home. Shower soap bottles, deodorants, cleaning fluids, shampoo bottles. Try to make reductions by discarding shower gel for soap and plastic cotton swabs for recyclables; Shop for liquid detergent in recycled plastic bottles and find a refill station to fill them. Shampoo bars and toilet paper in recycled packaging are also available.
- In the US, 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away each year, generating about 50 million pounds of waste. Instead, try using bamboo brushes that only take about six months to degrade back into the soil when you have to replace your brush.
- Bring reusable cloth bags.
- Try to buy in bulk and put dry items like rice, pasta, and lentils in glass jars to avoid buying items wrapped in plastic.
- Recycle old plastic children's toys. Find a toy library in your area to borrow or donate. And consider charity shops when looking for gifts.
- Bring a reusable coffee mug or flask; 7m plastic lined coffee cups are thrown away in the UK every day.
- Say no to plastic cutlery. Take a fork with you or use a compostable alternative.
- Wrap your food without plastic. Plastic wrap cannot be recycled in most countries. Aluminum foil is recyclable, so use aluminum foil or reusable plastic boxes.
- Use an electric razor instead of a plastic disposable.
- Write to companies whose packaging is not recyclable and ask them to consider using less destructive materials. Maybe even think about starting a social media campaign to raise awareness. Strength!
Original article (In English)