Plastic is everywhere.
Just take a second to look around you and I bet you spot at least 10 objects that have plastic on or in them. Case in point, I am typing this blog post on a plastic computer keyboard, pointing with my plastic mouse, and editing the words with my plastic computer monitor.
It is everywhere and that is not a particularly good thing. There are many types of plastic, usually numbered from 1 to 7 to indicate the composition of the item made from it.
Many petroleum-based plastics take many, many years to break down in the environment around them. In truth, they don’t really break down, they just shatter into smaller pieces and persist in our soils, waterways, and oceans and killing wildlife when they ingest these pieces. Compostable plastics are now entering the marketplace, but still in very low volumes. These are usually made from plant starches and breakdown over a few years.
There are so many simple ways to make the move away from plastic easier. Refusing to buy food in plastic containers is one of the easiest I can think of, which also includes disposable coffee cups; even the paper ones that are lined with plastic. Ironically, I use a KeepCup. Although it is made from plastic, it is better than using disposables, and can be used over and over and recycled at the end of its life.
Plastic shopping bags are easy to refuse. Take along your own canvas or market bags to the shop. We always have a bundle of canvas bags in the boot of our car for such a purpose. If you do get given a plastic shopping bag, you can recycle them at our major supermarkets as well as other soft plastics.
If you do get stuck without an alternative to plastic, make sure you recycle the item. So much recyclable plastic gets thrown into landfill. Recycled plastic can be turned into things like ceiling insulation, park benches, thermal filler in jackets, and all sorts of useful things. Curbside recycling is available in most suburbs in most cities in Australia, so there is no real reason not to recycle these items. There are now even many recycling bins on our city streets.
By taking small steps to move away from plastic is an easy way to start, and poses less of an impact on the environment. All I ask is take the time to think about the plastic you use in your daily lives, then consider an alternative solution.
Now as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so during my research for this post, I came across the infographic below. Even though it has stats for the United States, much of it is similar for Australia and other western countries. From what I can tell, the volumes are way higher than here in Oz, but the percentages are similar. Check it out. Some of the information will astound you!