In the current climate, single-use plastic has become one of the most pressing matters on the subject of sustainability. We have already established that the use of plastic is not the problem, it’s the overuse of single-use plastics. Companies like Simply Plastics promote the use of reusable plastics and plastic alternatives, but it is companies that encourage single-use plastics that create a problem for everyone. Plastic packaging is the best example of this, proving to be unnecessary in a lot of cases. It is vital that we start not only looking at recycling methods but start looking at ways in which we can reuse the existing plastic “waste” we have lying around.
Problems with Single Use Plastic
Single-use plastic refers to plastic items that are only intended to be used once for a certain purpose. Considering the number of products that contain plastic packaging, plastic bottles etc. you can see just how much potential plastic waste is being thrown away.
The two products that have been targeted in particular are plastic bags and plastic straws. These are two examples of products that are used on a huge scale but aren’t necessary by any means. These plastics are the ones that commonly end up in the ocean, where they can cause serious harm to marine life.
Methods of Reusing Plastic
We have become aware of new ways to tackle this plastic problem. There has been the adoption of plastic alternatives like Acrylic as well as glass and while these are all very important, it is still important to find new ways to reuse certain items.
Firstly, when purchasing a bottled drink from a shop it is incredibly easy to use again as a water bottle. It’s as simple as washing out the previous drink and regularly topping the bottle up with water, promoting healthier drinking as well.
Another system to put into place is to keep plastic bags in your car or in a safe place at home. This is so there is no need to buy new bags and they are ready for your next shopping trip, you will be surprised by how much you can reuse a cheap plastic bag. You could also use old plastic bags as bin liners which are great for the smaller bins that you may have laying around your home.
Finally, there are many plastic containers purchased for various reasons which can easily be used as small storage places for certain items. Granted, plastic packaging is usually disposable and should, therefore, be placed in the recycling bin. For the larger containers though, it would seem a waste to throw away a perfectly viable storage container that can be used for spare change, important items or photos, just to name a few ideas.
How the Future Could Look
If we carry on as we are, pollution is only going to rapidly increase. In fact, the World Economic Forum has predicted that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, in terms of weight, by 2050. There are already trillions of plastics within our oceans and with the world’s population constantly increasing, it is truly worrying if we do not tackle the problem.
On the plus side, it does look like large corporations are starting to get the message and there have been increased efforts to contribute positively to the cause. The global giant that is McDonald’s is starting to use paper straws instead and have a plan to make all of their packaging recyclable. This is only happening in the UK restaurants at this point, but others are starting to make the change too.
Another example is Ikea promising to eliminate all single-use plastics from its stores by 2020. With large companies like these leading the way with their initiatives, many more should follow. This could also lead to the heavy promotion of these initiatives due to the influence of these companies.
The main thing we have to do is change the mindset of the people, make everyone conscious of the damaging effect of single-use plastics and how they can help to change the situation. Changing society’s perception of the issue is essential for us to be able to move forward with protecting our world. For information on how you can use plastic to improve your home, check out this infographic.