Our amazing planet, Earth, can’t digest plastic. We all know this now. Plastic things are simply bought and used and that’s it – our beautiful planet Earth is burdened forever. I remember my old high school English teacher, Mr Docherty, used to say “you’ll be dead, your grandchildren will be dead but that plastic Aldi bag you carry home tonight will still be here”. This issue has reached a undeniably critical point. We must act. All of us must act. That includes me – and you. Why is that? Well, because we are the issue here, us self-destructive humans, and we need to stop further unnecessary plastic pollution. I know most of us get confused by all the jargon and date and studies available on plastic pollution and other carbon management areas of concern, so I’ve broken down some of the steps we can all take, today, to help alleviate the strain we are putting on our planet with our ginormous plastic problem.
And here’s why each and every one of us should make these changes, or some of these changes, right now!
- Our planet simply cannot digest plastic. Once it exists, it’s never ever going to be gone. My old English teacher was right. It’s a scary thought that each and every tiny or huge bit of plastic that’s ever been made, still exists on the planet right now. As time passes by, sections of the plastic will separate into smaller and smaller pieces, but never entirely biodegrades. And that means….
- Plastic residing in our oceans now outnumbers sea life by a terrifying six to one!
- Every single sea turtle species has been sadly, documented with plastic inside or around their bodies.
- In excess of one million sea birds are killed every single year from the damaging plastic in our oceans.
- Plastic chemicals, like BPA, are absorbed by the body – they disrupt hormones and your endocrine system which is a big issue, especially if you suffer from an autoimmune disease or disorder.
- Aside from the well documented and generally well understood BPA issue, which most people are aware of these days, plastic also contains DDT and PCB — two exceedingly toxic and dangerous chemicals. The health effects of DDT are known to include cancer, male infertility, miscarriages and low birth weight, developmental delay, nervous system and liver damage., amongst others. PCBs are also proven to contribute to cancer and cause disorders of the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems, which means we are all risking our own bodies and health.
With all this in mind, here are some helpful tips on plastic habits to change today…
Totally and inconceivably wrong, especially when it’s so often so-called health food shops with an apparent eco ethos’ are the worst for not supplying reusable cutlery. Some positive news is that France have banned plastic cutlery and utensils. The fact that 150 single-use cups are thrown away every second in France is alarming but they’re taking steps to cut landfill waste in half by 2025 and reduce greenhouse emissions 40 per cent by 2030, which is to be applauded and hopefully copied by other nations.
I’m so guilty of this. I loved using straws but they are such a needless cause of plastic pollution. Over 90 per cent of the debris found on Sydney beaches is plastic water bottles and straws, which is really disappointing. These pieces can get so small over time that they are then commonly ingested by marine life. Bigger marine life comes along and eats the prey that has just consumed a nasty chunk of toxic plastic, and so it swiftly makes its way up the food chain.
Do this: Sip your drink, it’s not that difficult. Or check that straws are biodegradable before using.
Yes it’s an obvious one. In the United States of America, more than 1500 plastic water bottles are consumed every single SECOND. Not only does the plastic in the 1500 water bottles consumed every second contain the dreaded BPA and phthalates, both of which have a massive well documented and researched negative impact on our health and bodies. They also take 25 per cent of their volume in oil to make each bottle, which is clearly a big unnecessary dose of fossil fuels.
Instead let’s just drink from a tap if we live in counties with safe water. You could also Invest in a Soda Stream if you like it fizzy. Take a reusable bottle like my favourite, the Bobble, with you in your bag and fill up at cafes or at work. If you’re worried about the toxins in tap water, the filter in the Bobble, or equivalent, should alleviate your concerns. I think it really does taste better, too.
TAKEAWAY COFFEE CUPS
These cups are usually lined with plastic which is definitely not biodegradable. Think about how damaging it is that the plastic linings stick around long enough to out-live us and our kids. In Australia there are a billion of these plastic cups consumed annually. People need to remember that disposable does not mean recyclable. I never used to think about this and just consumed thoughtlessly, so I’m not judging!
Yes, I know this sounds weird but stay with me! Your plastic toothbrush should really be given the elbow! The majority of toothbrushes are made using nylon bristles, a metal staple to hold the bristles securely and then topped off with a plastic handle. All of these components need to be separated prior to processing for recycling. And nope, unfortunately the plastic is not recyclable, although it is generally a softer plastic, which are usually turned into other products so in a sense recycled but the truth is the plastic still never goes away. Instead invest in readily available bamboo toothbrushes online.
PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGES
It’s a scary fact that Australians use in excess of 10 million brand new plastic shopping bags every single day. Plastic bags are actually banned in South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT, I am delighted to report. In Britain there is now a plastic bag tax which is helping to reduce the numbers by millions. But it’s not enough. To make sure you never need a plastic bag, keep a reusable one rolled up in your daily handbag. If you’re anything like me, you won’t notice the extra bulk in the slightest!
Although not in circulation at the dramatic numbers of plastic water bottles, plastic food containers are a massive problem, too, because they contain many chemicals that scientist believe affect our bodies. Then, they wind up in landfill, or our precious ocean. Instead, just cover your dishes with a plate and ditch the cling film or plastic wrap. Use, and then remember to re-use, your Ziplock bags for a simple way to make a difference.
PLASTIC WRAPPED TOILET PAPER
We’re seriously buying paper…wrapped in plastic… and not realising how preposterous it is. This is a simple fix. Substitute it for paper that’s wrapped in paper. If you can, always buy recycled paper. I recommend a brand like Who Gives A Crap. They tick all the Eco friendly boxes and they generously donate a percentage of their profits to charity – what’s not to like?!