5 Ways to Help Reduce the Plastic Waste Crisis
Waste continues to be a major global issue. There are over 4 dozen types of waste including food, electronic and plastic waste. The world dumps 2.12 billion tons of waste per year, most of which is materials and products trashed after just six months. Though electronic waste can be extremely dangerous to human health and the environment when not properly disposed of, plastics account for 18 percent of the world’s waste and continue to be a threat to ocean life as well as human health.
Over the years, the ocean has become a popular place to dump the world’s trash. When plastics cannot be recycled, they are sent to landfills, or tossed into the ocean, which results in the suffering of ocean life. Have you ever seen the pictures of sea turtles tangled in plastic rings, or the whale with a straw stuck in its blowhole? These occurrences are growing with the more plastic we use. The problem is single-use plastics, and they’re everywhere. Single-use plastics are plastics that are used once and then discarded as trash. They are in almost every single thing we use, if not the product then as part of the packaging. Plastic is abundant in every household, school, office, playground etc. and typically ends up being sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. According to the Ocean Conservancy, scientists estimate that more than 11 million metric tons of plastic is entering the ocean every year. Because of this, it is up to us to do our part in keeping our environment healthy and clean, not only for us, but for wildlife and ocean life as well.
There are many things you can do to help reduce the amount of plastic waste you create.
- First, though it may seem like such a trivial change, reducing what you use will reduce the frequency of needing more of a product, and overall reduce the demand for new products to be made. This reduces the amount of plastic packaging as well.
- Think about all of the products you use on a daily basis such as dry shampoo, deodorant, face wash etc. and the packaging it comes in. Consider doing research for DIY alternatives. Many products have eco-friendly alternatives and packaging that would reduce the need to purchase products with plastic packaging.
- Many stores offer reusable or recyclable baggin options. Reusing or using recyclable bags reduces the need for production of more plastic bags. Reusable water bottles also reduce the amount of bottles, lids and straws that end up in the ocean. Companies like 4Ocean make stainless steel water bottles and cups with eco-friendly recyclable packaging.
- Rather than purchasing brand new products, consider buying second hand, or used items to reduce the demand for new products to be manufactured. Check to see if the products you buy are made from recycled materials, or if the packaging is eco-friendly.
- Lastly, and perhaps the most obvious, buy reusable products. Items like straws, cups, tupperware and grocery bags all have reusable alternative options that help keep plastic out of the ocean.
A common misconception is that our actions don’t matter or make a difference, but if everyone makes conscious efforts to reduce their waste habits, we could help reduce the plastic waste crisis, and provide a more sustainable future.