Happy New Year Legacy Makers! We hope you’ve enjoyed the holidays and are ready to kick off 2019. This year we’re introducing blog posts on topics we are passionate about; people, planet, and profit! In the month of January we’ll be focusing on Planet, and more specifically, plastic use! Plastic became popular only 6 decades ago for its cheap production, low weight, flexibility and acid resistance but has recently come under fire due to mass use and disposal, causing pollution to our land and oceans. Most plastics are not biodegradable and do not end up being recycled; therefore as mass consumption continues to increase, we must understand the impacts and alternatives to plastic use.
Approximately 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been made since the 1950s, equivalent to the weight of 47 million blue whales
Only about 9% of said plastic has been recycled whereas 12% has been burned and the other 79% is sitting in landfills or the environment
There is an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean (this is enough to circle the Earth 400 times)
Canada, the US and the UK export our plastic waste and garbage to other countries in Asia and Africa
How common is plastic?
Plastic is ubiquitous in everyday life. It is found in a majority of packaging for goods; two-thirds are from the household while one-third is from industry and commerce. We use plastics in food and drink containers, cleaning and soap containers, pipes and building materials, furniture, clothing, capital and machinery equipment, other consumer goods and many other applications. Think about your daily use of plastic and how common it is in everything that you use. Keep in mind that most things that are “thrown out” or “recycled” will not actually be re-purposed into new materials; we must avoid disposal and reuse and reduce our consumption of plastic materials.
Plastic’s life cycle
Most plastic is not biodegradable and can take anywhere from 10-1000 years to decompose. A majority of plastic (91%) is not actually recycled and ends up in landfills and eventually in our oceans. Not only can plastic be toxic, but many animals and sea organisms get caught in plastic, eat or consume plastic, and eventually die due to high plastic levels in their diet and habitat.
How to be mindful and reduce your plastic consumption
As a student and community member; be mindful of where you are getting most of your plastic from. Swapping out your free plastic straw for a metal straw is a great start, however there is a lot more that can be incorporated into your daily routine!
Do you buy a coffee, bubble tea or get takeout everyday? Consider getting a reusable, portable mug and tupperware and bring these to school/work everyday. Bring tupperware to restaurants and fast food places and ask for the food to be put in your container.
Ask for coffee or drinks to be put in your reusable mug or bottle; you can get discounts and it’s a lot better than creating waste.
Consider package free or reusable options for groceries and home care goods
Cotton bags can be used in place of plastic bags when getting groceries and produce
Bar soap, solid shampoos/conditioners and makeup can be found in package-free forms
Purchase clothing from sustainable brands that do not incorporate plastic and unethical practices into their manufacturing