Why Is Plastic Bad? How Can We Grow A Healthy Relationship With This Super Useful Material?
The uses for plastic, how we value plastic AND the disposal methods all contribute to the global plastic crisis. It's a complex situation involving lots of money, powerful companies, consumers addicted to convenience and poor legislation from governments worldwide. But we can all do something!
Let's take a deeper look as we outline some practical tips to help YOU to 'Love Plastic In The Right Way'...
Plastic has changed the world and there's no doubt it has enhanced our quality of life up until this point. Look around - our phones, cars, clothes, furniture all likely containing plastic. We went from paper packaging and reusing glass milk bottles to 'plastic everything' from the 1960's onwards. But the very thing we value plastic for, it's durability, is the quality that is wrecking havoc on ecosystems the world over.
The plastic we have created so far is here to stay and there are some plastic items that are really useful. So what are the real problems and what can we do about it?
PLASTIC IN OUR WORLD - The Facts:
- National Geographic claim that 91% of plastic ever made has not been recycled.
- Plastic then ends up in landfills or in the open environment - more than 5.2 trillion pieces of plastic in some form are bobbing about in our precious oceans!
THE REAL ISSUE WITH PLASTIC
- Plastics are used for the wrong things (i.e. single-use)
- Cost price doesn't reflect the True Cost - the natural or human environment sucks up the deficit that our current economic model doesn't allow for.
We have created a false economy around plastics, where the environmental cost isn’t taken into consideration. Business' have been using plastics for years without any thought given to the end-of-life of their products.
The impact of the convenient lifestyle attitude has well and truly caught up with us and now is time to reset those habits. Simple plastic-free swaps go a long way!
BUT PLASTIC IS GREAT? Yes! When Used Correctly
There are certain items that are incredible when made from plastic:
- Travel, food preservation, medical care, sports, electronics...
- Plastics' light-weight and durable qualities makes it versatile and is was why it has been so loved!
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO MOVING FORWARD?
The Best Option: REDUCE first. There are so many things we can all do daily that add up to collective impact. Say no to anything you don't really need and choose more sustainable alternatives to plastic. For example, buy milk in glass bottles, or make your own Nut Mylks!
The Second Best Option: REUSE. It is important that we utilise the plastics that are already in circulation rather than extracting virgin material. Keep the plastic you have, use it, love it until it dies - don't go purging the house as the most sustainable items are the ones you already own.
And then support the Circular Economy...
- Linear Model is what we are doing now. Take > Make > Dispose.
- Circular Model is where we need to go! Make > Use > Return > Remake.
We stand by the Circular Economy model. This reduces waste in the environment, and reuses resources already in circulation. We already have tonnes of plastic on the planet, it isn't going anywhere, so lets put what we already have to good use.
"Cherish, Reuse and Dispose of plastic like it is a precious, valuable little nugget of usefulness. A nugget that has the potential to be very destructive."
WHAT ABOUT RECYCLED PLASTIC?...
It is beyond important that consumer demand for plastic reduces and we utilise Recycled Plastic (rPet) for the items we do need. It is currently cheaper to extract, transport, mould, package, ship, sell, transport and then landfill virgin plastics (and do that all over again) from the other side of the world than it is to simply recycle what we have here - we can change this around!
Current research claims virgin plastic manufacturing volume will double again over the next 20 years! Let's use ALL our consumer power to make sure this doesn't happen.
TIPS SO YOU CAN LOVE PLASTIC THE RIGHT WAY...
- Use, respect and LOVE the plastics you already own: going ‘eco’ doesn’t mean buying a bunch of stuff.
- When you go to replace your plastic items, consider replacing them with sustainable and durable options. We are all for this replacing our plastic pegs with Stainless Pegs when they brake.
- When you buy something in plastic really think it through. Ask yourself - is there a more sustainable alternative? Do I really need this?
- When you do buy plastic, support the Circular Economy movement and buy rPET products (made from recycled content).
- Encourage your favourite brands to minimise their packaging and support the market for Recycled Plastic by messaging them! Writing to Policy Makers is crucial so spare the 5 minutes and have your say.
- Budget your plastics: save your plastic consumption for items that are best made from plastic and are going to last years and years to come. This means cutting back on single-use items and food packaging and then ‘saving plastic’ for the items you will cherish - I have had a plastic keep cup that has lasted years. It’s been the most suitable material through years of traveling.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Leave your comments below!
For more information on Circular Economy in New Zealand check out:
- The Truth About That Compostable Coffee Cup
- How Washing Our Clothes Is Polluting the Ocean
- Easy Swaps For Less Waste
- 5 Easy Eco Swaps