It has been estimated that approximately 10–20 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year, and that over 5.25 trillion plastic particles are floating in the world’s oceans. Each year that plastic debris costs an estimated $13 billion due to damage to marine ecosystems, costs for beach cleaning and financial losses to tourism and fisheries.
The debris causes severe damage to nature and wildlife as well as spreads pollutants that eventually get eaten by animals which in turn get eaten by us and our children. Research implies that over 85% of sea animals have come in contact with plastic debris and that over 90% of these have suffered injuries or death caused by it through entanglement, ingestion and suffocation. The debris is far from the only problem. Plastic production processes, using fossil fuels and repeatedly resulting in severe oil spills, cause big scale damage that is beyond our control but has irreversible effects.
The benefits of plastic use need to be considered in relation to the problems that the longevity and huge production volumes of it cause and action taken by governments, businesses and consumers individually and collectively.
The positive thing is that each one of us – individual, parent, business owner or politically active person – can make a positive move towards a more sustainable lifestyle already today and THIS is how you can do it!
Reduce your consumption and your waste. Most of us tend to fill our homes with things that we don’t really need, both plastic and non plastic, creating big amounts of trash that we eventually throw out. Before purchasing, ask yourself, “Do I really need this or do I just want this?” Consider getting some of the things you need from second hand shops. You can find unique things while helping to reduce amount of trash produced. Avoid buying new things by taking care of what you already have. Compost food waste.
Refuse unnecessary single use plastic. Replace plastic bags in the grocery shop with reusable cloth bag. Buy unpackaged food, for instance at the farmers market. Replace bottled water with a water purifier and a stainless steel bottle to fill. Put the family’s lunch boxes in reusable containers and use real cutlery instead of single use materials. Clothes release huge amounts of tiny plastic microfibers that pollute the environment as they enter the water system. Refuse to buy unnecessary clothes wash your clothes gently. Choose clothes made of natural fibres such as organic cotton, hemp, ethically- raised wool while decreasing use of polyester, lycra, nylon and other synthetic materials. Refuse beauty products containing microplastics (the tiny little “dots” you can find in many shower gels, tooth pastes, body scrubs etc.). And refuse free giveaway products. Just because they’re free doesn’t mean that we need them!
Reuse and repurpose wherever possible. Ask yourself how you can use something again instead of disposing it. Ideas for reuse of all kinds of items can be found with a quick google- or youtube-search. Repurpose by asking yourself what else can this be used for other than its’ original purpose? Again, tons of ideas on repurposing can be found online and save you both time and money!
Repair! Many of the things we buy nowadays break shortly after purchase due to planned obsolescence and it’s cheaper to buy a new item to replace the old rather than repairing what we already have. Take a stand by repairing things rather than throwing them out!
As a last stop: Recycle! When you no longer find ways to reduce and reuse, recycle!
Keep in mind that recycling is a process that requires a lot of resources, and although it’s definitely a much better option than throwing things away, it’s not a long term solution. So first and foremost: Reduce, refuse, reuse and repair, lastly recycle! .
Oh yeah.. and give up chewing gum. Yeap, you heard me, almost all chewing gum is made from plastic!