It’s the talk of the town. South Australia’s banned them, the rest of the country is on its way but what’s the big deal? Why are single use plastics bad? Since the 1970s, plastics have been designed to make our lives more convenient, but at what cost?
Here’s the low down…
Fossil fuels are a fundamental part in the production of single use plastic . All those tiny bits of coal, oil and gas are taken out of the ground and turned into a petroleum-based product (plastics and chemicals).
There are a couple of issues with this. Firstly and most importantly, when fossil fuels are burnt, they produce large quantities of carbon dioxide- the main ingredient in our carbon emissions and climate issues. The more fossil fuels we use, the more we contribute to our climate crisis. And we’re not too keen on making things worse…
The other issue with fossil fuels? Umm…there’s not enough of it! It’s the polar opposite of sustainability (not sure what sustainability means? Check out our blog post all about it.) So eventually, we are going to run out. And when we do, we will potentially have made an irreversible impact on our health and the planet. Plus, we’ll be scratching our heads wondering how we are going to keep making all these things we ‘need’?
Over 8 million TONS of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. 8 million. That’s pretty hectic. And our marine life aren’t the biggest fans of this.
Because single use plastics are very challenging to recycle, the majority of it ends up in landfill and also makes its way into the ocean through polluted rivers and beach littering. Add in the fact that it’s light and easily picked up by the wind, that plastic is clocking up some serious kms.
And unfortunately it’s turtles, seabirds and even bigger marine life that get a little caught up in all this plastic.
BUT it’s not all doom and gloom! We have made some huge process in the battle against plastics. Every state in Australia has announced their plan or has already actioned a ban on single use plastic.
Even Maccas have started to swap out their plastic straws for paper! Yes, it feels different but think of the turtles.
Tips to reduce your single plastic use
Wondering what you can do to help? Here’s what you can do to reduce single use plastics in your life and from our oceans
1. Reduce your seafood intake
We know this one is a little controversial but anyone who has watched Seaspiracy will agree. Commercial fishing lines account for 50% of the plastic in our oceans. With bycatching and over fishing devasting our ecosystem, reducing our seafood intake helps us rely less on the industry. Why not aim to at least swap to a veggie meal a couple of times a week?
2. Say goodbye to takeaway containers
Coffee cups, drink bottles, takeaway food containers, shopping bags and even cleaning products. Try to replace as many of these as you can with your own reusable options and take advantage of newer sustainable products like cleaning refill packs. It takes a little bit of organisation, but the impact can be huge! Especially if we all do it.
3. Pick up litter
The easiest way to stop single use plastic ending up in our oceans? Pick it up! The team at Clean Up Australia do some amazing work to bring communities together to collect rubbish for our beautiful beaches. But you don’t have to be part of a group to do this. Next time you head off for a nice scroll along the beach? Take a bag with you and pick up any rubbish you find.
4. Recycle your soft plastics
Small, single use plastics like straws and spoons are really tricky to recycle as they are too small and get stuck in a lot of recycling machinery. But your soft plastics can receive a new life! Things like plastic bags or any kind of single use plastic that can be scrunched into a ball can be recycled through RED Cycle (check out our other blog here to find out a little more about them).
Every little change that we make as individuals can have a big impact on our community, country and planet. Are you finding ways to reduce your need for plastic?