Why Reduce Single Use Plastic?
It’s really no big secret – we have a global plastic pollution problem that is getting bigger every single day.
We have become addicted to the convenience of single use plastic. Our food comes packaged in it and we use it for a huge range of disposable products.
But our addiction to the convenience of plastic comes at a cost. Some forms of plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose and only 30% of our plastic waste is recycled.
This slow rate of decomposition means our plastic waste piles up in oceans and on beaches across the world.
On Victor Vescovo’s record breaking dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean he found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers on the seabed. Our plastic problem is already far and wide reaching.
So it is no surprise that plastic residue from our rubbish is being found in animals like sea turtles, seals, whales and birds. It also makes its way into our food chain through fish and shellfish. We are already eating our own plastic waste and the chemicals it contains.
If that isn’t enough here are a few more reasons to cut our plastic habit courtesy of Less Plastic.
Now you might be thinking that all that plastic doesn’t seem so convenient after all. So what are we doing about it?
EU Bans Six Single Use Plastic Products By 2021
Well it has spurred the European Parliament into action. They’ve set out a plan to reduce 10 single use plastic products that are most often found littering our beaches and contaminating our oceans. These are some of the most common pollutants damaging our marine environment and ecosystems.
The plans aim to curb the 25 million tonnes of plastic waste we generate in Europe every year. These ten products plus fishing gear compose 70% of our marine litter. So they are a great opportunity to make a big dent in our plastic pollution.
The EU has put an outright ban on six of our most common single use plastic products that we already have more sustainable alternatives to. The ban tackles cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons. It will kick in from 2021.
We will also need to reduce use of single-use food containers and drink cups to meet new targets. Single-use drink containers will only be allowed if their lids remain attached.
EU countries can achieve this by setting national reduction targets, making alternative products available or ensuring that there is a charge for single-use products.
What Is The UK Doing To Reduce Single Use Plastic?
In the UK, we plan to ban plastic drink stirrers from 2020 and will put restrictions on plastic straws and cotton buds too. We won’t have the easy access to plastic straws and cotton buds like we do just now but they will still be available.
Plastic straws are to remain available so we don’t disadvantage anyone with disabilities. Medical and scientific labs will still have access to plastic cotton buds.
In comparison to what our friends in the EU are doing it seems a bit underwhelming to say the least. So it is over to us if we want to make a bigger dent in our plastic waste.
How You Can Start To Reduce Your Plastic Waste
We can begin to tackle our own plastic problem though by starting to make small changes to our lifestyle. Our Beginner’s Guide To Zero Waste sets out how you can start doing this.
Zero waste is lifestyle that helps you to reduce the personal waste you create. The ultimate goal is to eliminate your waste altogether. This means no plastic, no wrappers, no rubbish.
You might think it sounds impossible but, as summed up by Zero Waste Chef Anne-Marie Bonneau, you don’t need to do it perfectly to make a difference.
A simple change like switching your disposable coffee cup for a reusable alternative can make a big impact.
Disposable coffee cups are a huge part of our plastic waste problem. The cups are coated with plastic to stop our drinks from making them fall apart. But this makes our used cups very hard to recycle. In fact, we only recycle 1 in 400 of our used disposable coffee cups.
At Reusaboo we create reusable coffee cups from naturally sustainable and biodegradable bamboo fibre.
We love bamboo because it’s fast growing, renewable, absorbs large amounts of CO2 and produces more oxygen than other plants. That’s why we think this makes it a perfect raw material for reusable cups.
So if you are ready to reduce your single use plastic usage start to explore where you could switch to more sustainable alternatives.