It’s not until you really start looking that you realise plastic is everywhere. From the bottles of cleaning solutions to the multiple plastic items in your lunchtime meal deal. It’s difficult to get away from plastic too, but why is plastic something you’d want to get away from in the first place?
Plastic is a great material, it’s easy to keep clean, it’s versatile, and it’s relatively cheap for both manufacture and consumer. Not to mention it’s durable, so durable in fact, that every single piece of plastic ever created is still in existence today.
Yes, the plastic wrapper on that chocolate bar you had when you were 6 years old - it’s still out there. Not in perfect condition, it’s probably separated into a few dozen pieces by now, but it’s still somewhere. It might be in a landfill, it could even be in the ocean. But it makes you think, doesn’t it?
The thing is, although plastic is durable, versatile, and relatively cheap, it has the potential to be incredibly harmful to the planet. This is because it takes over 500 years to break down. It’s hard to say how long indefinitely as plastic hasn’t even been around for 200 years, but it puts into perspective the damaging effects that plastic can have.
If you are someone who wants to help the environment, reducing your consumption of plastic is a great start. The material comes from finite resources that involve drilling into the seafloor bed. The process of creating plastic is harmful in and of itself. When you add to the fact that plastic damages the environment after it’s been discarded by the user. It all starts adding up to a problem bigger than anticipated.
The worst type of plastic though? Single use plastic. The type of plastic that you cannot reuse, cannot clean, and cannot repurpose. That’s the worst type. Up until recently, you’d find a lot of single-use plastic in takeaway stores.
Things like plastic cutlery, straws, and stirrers were everywhere, but fortunately, they’ve now been banned in the UK and in plenty of other countries across the world.
Other pieces of single-use plastic you may not recognise come with packaging too. Things like plastic wrapping on sandwich boxes, fruit pots, and granola bars. A lot of single-use plastic packaging seems necessary - and it is, in the sense that the item being package needs to be protected. The plastic itself is not necessary and plenty of businesses are now trying to create an alternative to single-use plastic with creative new technologies.
Now you know how harmful plastic can be, especially single-use plastic, it’s time to learn how to avoid it. Realistically, it’s difficult and can take some time, so it’s better to start off small and work your way up. Begin by thinking about items you use out of your home.
In your bag, you might find some mints, your wallet, some hand sanitiser and a bottle of water. Make sure you invest in a reusable bottle for water, and a refillable hand sanitiser and you’re already making strong movements away from plastic.
The next step would be to think about the plastic you might encounter on the go, for example, your lunchtime meal deal. You can be more prepared and take food with you or head to a shop that allows you to grab lunch without the plastic.
After you’ve tackled the plastic outside your home, move inside. No sustainable habit was formed overnight so don’t worry if you don’t get it all right the first time. As soon as you discover where single-use plastic comes into your life, the sooner you can figure out a way to remove it. It’s a journey after all!