What can we do about plastic?
Globally we have already generated tonnes and tonnes of plastic waste, just today, so why will reducing our own plastic waste make a difference?
It will take a long time for governments to pass legislation forcing manufacturers and retailers to change how they use plastic, meanwhile yet more plastic is produced and more is thrown away. There are many other social and global issues that deserve attention, and let's not forget our disposable culture has driven growth in our economy. And there is also a real lack of sustainable alternatives to plastic right now.
However, plastic pollution is having serious effects on our planet so by changing attitudes to waste and purchase behaviour we can both reduce our own plastic waste and demand that businesses and industries rethink how they use plastic. And when you start to look at plastic waste it’s only a short step to looking at how our behaviour contributes to climate change.
Consumer habits are already starting to change with UK supermarkets reporting a rise in sales of barred soap after years of decline.
We have already seen manufacturers and retailers start to make changes after public pressure. Walkers have implemented a recycling programme for their crisp packets while they search for a more sustainable alternative. IKEA have committed to removing all single-use plastic from their stores by 2020. And Iceland supermarket have committed to eliminating plastic from their own-brand products by 2023.
Global efforts to reverse the damage done to the ozone layer have started to take effect showing that we can make a difference. Dealing with plastic pollution, particularly mircoplastics, might not be as easy, but we will need to find ways to help our environment recover from all this plastic.
While switching to a bamboo toothbrush alone might not save the planet (although one fewer piece of plastic is something to be celebrated), it is really the change in consumer attitude that is of most value. Considering what a product is made of, how sustainable it is, how it will be dealt with once waste and if we really need it, is now a critical part of being a global citizen like never before.
We are all responsible for our planet and ensuring it can sustain future generations.
We are the 'somebody' who needs to save it.
- "Ban on plastics could increase damage to planet", Heriot-Watt University (30 Nov 2018)
- "Barred soap is back as Brits avoid plastic bottles", Telegraph (6 Jan 2019)
- "Walkers launches recycling scheme after storm over crisp packets", BBC News (10 Dec 2018)
- “Ikea commits to phase out single-use plastic products by 2020”, Guardian (7 June 2018)
- “Iceland supermarket vows to eliminate plastic on all own-branded products”, Guardian (15 Jan 2018)
- "NASA Study: First Direct Proof of Ozone Hole Recovery Due to Chemicals Ban" (4 Jan 2018)