Why am I trying to reduce Plastic?

We’re surrounded by plastic: plastic cups, plastic bottles, plastic plates, cutlery, bags, food wrappers… And, to be honest, plastic is pretty awesome: it keeps dry things dry and prevents liquid things from leaking. It can store food and cleaning products and drinks in clean and hygienic conditions. You can literally store stuff in plastic for ever. Because it doesn’t decay… and that’s the problem. It doesn’t decay.

Plastic is made from fossil fuels, generally either gas or oil, and once it enters a landfill it’s likely that it’ll stay there for hundreds of years to come. Which means that as we continue to produce and use more and more plastic, more an more plastic ends up filling the countryside. To be honest, that already sounds bad enough to me… I’m quite a nature-y person so the thought of a countryside filled with plastic bags and plastic bottles is not particularly beautiful to imagine.

But “unfortunately” not all our rubbish ends up on landfills, and instead a lot of it is also dumped into our oceans. Since plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it only breaks into smaller and smaller pieces which are swirled around the oceans by currents and can end up in what is best described as floating islands of toxic plastic waste, an example of which is the Great Pacific garbage patch. Due to the plastic’s properties toxins that float on the water can accumulate on them, making plastics in the oceans several times more toxic than plastic waste in landfills.
Marine animals such as fishes, turtles and even whales end up eating plastic, and some birds collect it from the ocean – thinking it to be fish – and feed it to their young. Not only does this potentially endanger the whole food chain up to humans, but it also leads to the death, and possible extinction, of many animals who either ingest plastic and become poisoned, eat it and starve, or become trapped in it…

These are the most pressing reason why I decided to strive to become a little more sustainable in my plastic consumption.
In particular I’m trying to eliminate single use disposable plastics from my life, so that’s things like plastic shopping bags (use cloth bags instead), plastic wrapping around food (I’ll write more about this later; one way around this is to only buy loose whole foods or bulk), disposable cutlery (use your own instead or have finger food), plastic cups (I’ve started carrying a stainless steel water bottle around with me as well as a reusable travel mug) etc…

I realise that I’m not going to change the world by myself. And I also realise that there are many other important issues which deserve our attention (and the last thing I’m intending to do is divert our efforts away from e.g. humanitarian issues – I’m just not a good enough writer [yet?] to try and write on that…). But I also believe that doing the best I can do (which might be more or less than what others can), is really all I can aim for…

So I’m going to use this blog to share my own personal journey and insights (and challenges) in this, and maybe inspire someone else to look at what they could do, whether it’s going plastic free, reduce plastic bags, or start recycling, or even just becoming aware of the issue.

Some website about the impact of plastic pollution:
5 Gyres
wikipedia article

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3 thoughts on “Why am I trying to reduce Plastic?

  1. We have been trying to be plastic free (or single use plastic free at least) since January and it’s not easy (see https://goingplasticfree.wordpress.com/) ! We have been trying to avoid ‘recyclable plastics’ as much as any other plastic as recycling is generally to lower grade products and not really a solution. Good luck with your efforts, particularly in sourcing loose and plastic-free packed products. Since plastic free January we have relented a little, buying jars (with their plastic lined lids) and cans (with their plastic coating) as otherwise life is far too complicated.

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    1. It’s so good to know that there are other people trying to reduce their plastic impact!
      I’m trying to only buy loose vegetables, fruits etc now, but I’m also getting a veg box sometimes which has recyclable plastic bags… might ask them if they could not put things in the bags, but I have a feeling it would be difficult (e.g. because they send things like spinach leaves…).
      I’m still a bit confused about whether most tins contain plastic or not – how can I find out? I think it says on the tin that it’s aluminium and recyclable, but not sure…

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  2. We are also unsure about cans. Some ‘look’ like they have a plastic coating, others don’t. I tried contacting the can makers but they ignored me, perhaps because I pointed out that their fully recyclable claim wasn’t entirely true if they were plastic coated. Most canned food is in steel cans, drinks are either steel or aluminium but fizzy drinks cans must have a coating otherwise they would eat their way out in no time.

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