Today is International Plastic Bag Free Day. If you’ve been trying to cut down on your plastic usage, well done! If not, start today because, simply put, we must if we’re going to keep this planet viable for future generations.
Plastic is found everywhere and is such an integral part of daily life. It’s cheap to produce, versatile and used for everything from straws and food containers to bags, clothing and furniture. It’s also a terrible pollutant and we need to cut down on its usage before it literally destroys our planet.
If you need convincing, here are some frightening statistics:
- 4-12 million tonnes of plastic flows into the oceans per year
- 40% of plastic is produced for packaging, which is used once and thrown away
- Half of the world’s plastic is manufactured in Asia
- Less than 20% of plastic is recycled globally
- 3 billion plastic bags are used and discarded in Malaysia annually
- Malaysia is the 8th worst country in the world for plastic pollution
Plastic is a large-scale pollutant and these are its effects:
- Degeneration and destruction of the environment and wildlife
- The oceans are particularly affected with sea species from plankton and turtles to seabirds and whales ingesting all forms of plastic
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of plastic in the world and covers an area three times the size of France in the ocean between Hawaii and California. There are four other similar patches in seas around the world
- Microplastic is tiny pieces of plastic found in beauty products (microbeads) or which have degenerated from larger pieces of plastic. These can find their way into our food chain when ingested by marine life or through drinking water
- Burning plastic releases poisonous chemicals into the air
- Synthetic plastic is not biodegradable and plastic bags can take 20-1000 years to break down
This is just the tip of the plastic pollution iceberg. What can you do to reduce plastic waste? Follow these super simple steps and yes, it really does make a difference!
1. No more plastic bags
Stop using plastic bags! This is the easiest way to begin your ‘no plastic’ journey. Always bring your own reusable bags for shopping – keep them in your car and a foldable one in your bag.
2. Stop using plastic straws and food containers
Metal and bamboo straws are readily available now. Bring them out with you and refuse them in restaurants and bars. If you’re doing a takeaway, use a tiffin (they’re back in fashion!) or reusable food containers.
3. Buy bulk
Plastic food packaging is one of the worst culprits so buying bulk makes excellent financial sense as you only buy what you need, and use reusable jars / boxes bottles for storage.
4. Ditch single-use plastic bottles
One million plastic bottles are used globally per minute… that’s an implausible amount of plastic going to waste daily. Bring your water bottle with you everywhere, use a water filter at home and fill glass bottles.
5. Go old school with cloth diapers
Disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose and are not a cost-effective option. Considering a baby will go through an average of 10 diapers per day during its first month – that’s too many diapers to count filling up landfills. Cloth diapers last, are cheaper and are just as effective as disposable diapers.
6. Have reusable coffee cup will travel
We love coffee and for many of us a quick stop to grab a coffee is the norm. Invest in a good reusable coffee cup. Some places are offering discounts if you bring your own container so you’ll even save money!
7. Natural cleaning products
Everything we use to clean and launder is in a plastic container and full of chemicals. Try using natural ingredients to clean and store in reusable containers. Hint: clear a clogged drain with the very effective combination of baking soda, white vinegar and hot water. Besides reducing plastic waste, natural cleaners are non-toxic and made with common ingredients found in the house.
Remember – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Header image credit: The Wasted Blog