Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: The Plastic Pollution Survival Guide

It’s estimated that 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced since mass production began in the early 1950s, with 6.3 billion metric tons ending up as waste in landfills or polluting our environment. Plastic is one of the most common forms of pollution on Earth and almost every piece you see was manufactured for a single-use and thrown away after- hence its name: Plastic Pollution! Plastic has become such an environmental concern as it does not biodegrade. Instead, it photodegrades into smaller pieces which then enter our ecosystem, causing all sorts of problems to wildlife, ecosystems, and humans alike. Plastic pollution is a serious issue but there are still easy ways we can make a change to reduce this problem at home and as a global community.

What Is Plastic Pollution?

Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic products that eventually enter our ecosystem and cause harm to animals, ecosystems, and humans alike. Plastic pollution can come from many different sources: Plastic bags, bottles, straws; Plastic microbeads in toothpaste; Plastic particles large enough to be seen with your naked eye from razors or cosmetic pads; And microplastics, particles that are too small for the human eye to see, found in cosmetics or clothing made by synthetic fabrics. 

Plastic Pollution is commonly caused by plastics that are manufactured for single-use, such as shopping bags, which are then thrown away after one use. Plastic products have become so popular in our society, that it’s hard to imagine life without them! Plastic is used for almost everything from packaging food; bottles of water; the takeaway containers we get when ordering takeaway food or purchasing meat at the supermarket, to our water pipes. Even clothing fibers can be manufactured with plastic making synthetic clothes feel softer than natural textiles such as cotton or wool. 

Plastic pollution is an international concern because there are no borders on how far plastics travel once they enter aquatic systems: Plastic Pollution travels across oceans through currents called gyres – these garbage patches form where oceanic debris gathers together. Plastic Pollution has even been found in the Arctic and Antarctic snow, as well as on remote islands. Plastic pollution is a huge global problem and it’s not going to go away overnight but we can all do our bit to help reduce the amount of plastic waste we produce. Here is a blog on ways you can help minimise plastic pollution.

What Are The Effects Of Plastic Pollution?

Short-Term Effects of Plastic Pollution

The most visible short-term effects of plastic pollution are the injuries and deaths of marine animals who often mistake plastics for food such as jellyfish or squid. Plastics take up valuable space in their stomachs which could have been used for real food, meaning they starve to death. Ingesting plastics also causes animals to suffer from intestinal blockages, chemical poisoning, and entanglement (when an animal gets caught up in a plastic net or cord). Plastic pollution is also causing reproductive problems in marine animals, as well as altering their behavior.

Long-Term Effects of Plastic Pollution

The long-term effects of plastic pollution are much more serious and far-reaching than the short-term effects. Plastic that has been broken down into small pieces (microplastics) can be ingested by tiny aquatic creatures such as plankton and krill, who are then eaten by larger fish and sea birds. This process continues up the food chain until we eventually eat these contaminated animals – meaning we’re ingesting the toxic chemicals that have built up in the plastics over time. Some of these chemicals mimic hormones that can interfere with reproduction and development; others cause cancerous tumors.

Both the short-term and long-term effects of Plastic Pollution are extremely harmful to us and our economies. Plastic pollution is an eyesore for tourists, who come from all over the world to enjoy the natural beauty of a country’s coastline which could be spoiled by plastic debris. If a solution isn’t found soon, many animals will become extinct as their habitats continue to deteriorate due to human impact on the environment – this would cause a huge economic loss for communities whose livelihoods depend upon taking care of wildlife such as whales, sea otters, seabirds and other marine animals alike. As many countries rely heavily on tourism, losing our marine life would have detrimental effects on local businesses that support families throughout coastal towns!

How To Reduce Your Use Of Plastics:

Plastic pollution is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed. Reducing our use of plastics will help reduce plastic pollution and preserve the lives of marine animals, which are an important part of ecosystems around the world – Plastic takes up valuable space in their stomachs which could have been used for real food meaning they starve to death; Plastic ingestion causes reproductive problems in marine animals as well as altering their behavior (disturbing mating rituals etc.)

Tips to help reduce your use of plastics include:

  • Reusable Bottles – Plastic water bottles are a huge problem as they’re the largest contributor to plastic pollution. Bring your own reusable bottle and fill it up with tap water at home or in public fountains instead;
  • Cook at home with reusable containers – Plastic food packaging is also an issue, try to avoid buying ready-made meals at supermarkets which often come packaged in lots of plastics – for example, look out for ‘farmers market’ style stalls where you can buy fresh fruit and veg from local growers without excessive amounts of unnecessary plastic wrapping. These types of markets usually have signs saying “No Plastic” displayed on their stall banners so that customers know what not to bring when shopping there! Instead, use glass jars/containers etc.;
  • Buy in bulk – Many items such as grains (rice/wheat) or dried beans are sold pre-packaged with a lot of excess plastic; this makes them easy to transport but it’s better if we don’t take up more space than needed by buying these items in bulk and decanting them into our own containers. This way you’re not only reducing your waste but also saving money!
  • Reusable Bags – It’s easy to forget how many single-use plastic bags we go through each year, often for things that could easily be carried in our hands. Bring a reusable bag with you when out shopping instead of accepting a new plastic one every time;
  • Use less toiletry products – Toiletries such as plastic toothbrushes, combs, razors all come wrapped in excessive packaging which is usually thrown away after use – try to buy products that don’t have extra packaging or switch to using bamboo/wooden alternatives which can be composted at the end of their life cycle.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s a mantra we’ve all heard countless times, but what does it actually mean? Reduce means using less of something – whether that’s resources like water or energy, or products such as plastic. Reuse can be seen in finding new ways to use something again and again – like that plastic bag you forgot to take with you to the store. Recycling means to turn something old into something new – like that plastic bottle you just finished drinking from could be recycled into a new item made from plastic, rather than being created by ‘virgin plastic’- plastic that has not yet been recycled and is made purposefully for ‘single-use’.

All of these concepts are important when it comes to reducing the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. Plastic has been around for a long time, but in recent years we’ve begun using it more and more irresponsibly.

How To Reuse Your Plastics

Reusing your plastics is a great way to reduce the amount of plastic pollution going into our oceans – Plastic has many uses, some are obvious and others aren’t so much!

Reuse your single-use plastics as storage containers for food – Plastic bags can be reused to store dry foods such as rice or beans, Or you could use them to keep things together that would otherwise spill in your bags such as salt and pepper; Plastic bottles can also be used after they’ve been washed out by using them to hold drinks on the go; Plastic caps from glass jars can be used again once you take off the label – get creative when thinking about other ways you could reuse these items; It’s worth remembering not all plastics are recyclable but there are a lot of ways to reuse them so don’t feel limited!

Tips on reusing your plastics include:

  • Reuse Plastic Bags for Waste – Plastic bags are a problem in the environment but can be reused if you have nowhere to contain your rubbish – They make an effective way of containing wet waste and keeping it separate from dry;
  • Reuse Plastic Bottles – Plastic bottles can be reused for a number of different purposes, e.g. as a water bottle when going for a run or filling them up with homemade cleaning products;
  • Reuse Plastic Jars – Plastic jars can be used to store leftovers in the fridge or even as drinking glasses;
  • Reuse Plastic Straws – Plastic straws can be reused as plant markers in the garden or even as a way of stirring your morning coffee without having to use a metal spoon;

How To Recycle Your Plastics

Not all plastics are recyclable but there are a number of ways to recycle them if you have the knowledge and facilities. Plastic can be recycled into a variety of different products such as clothing, furniture, car parts, and even new plastic bottles!

There are a few things you need to remember when recycling plastic:

  • Check What Type Of Plastic It Is – Not all types of plastic can be recycled – usually the type is written on the bottom of the container;
  • Separate Plastic Types – Make sure you separate your plastics into categories before taking them to your local recycling center – This will make it easier for them to process;
  • Clean Your Plastic – Before recycling any type of plastic, it’s important to clean it first to remove any food or dirt – This will help to avoid contamination;
  • Remove Plastic Labels – If the label is still attached to the plastic, it’s best to remove it before recycling as they can’t be recycled together.

There are a number of ways you can recycle your plastics, some of which are:

  • Recycle Plastic Bottles – Plastic bottles can be recycled into new plastic bottles, fleece clothing, car parts and more;
  • Recycle Plastic Jars – Plastic jars can be recycled into new plastic jars, Tupperware containers and more;
  • Recycle Plastic Bags – Plastic bags can be recycled into new plastic bags, insulation for buildings and furniture.

Reusable Product Alternatives

There are a number of simple ways to reduce the amount of plastic you use and one way is by using reusable products. Plastic pollution can be reduced if we all take responsibility for our own actions, so it’s important that we encourage others through education on how they too can help stop this from happening in their communities.

Reusable Water Bottles – Instead of buying bottled water, why not invest in a good quality reusable bottle? Plastic bottles create more than 40 million tons of waste every year; It takes between 500 and 1000 years for a single plastic bottle to break down – So unless you want your great-grandchildren drinking toxic water out of an old Coke bottle, do them (and yourself) a favour: buy a nice metal or glass bottle, reuse it and reduce your plastic footprint. We recommend our 32oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle that is designed to last!

Reusable Shopping Bags – Plastic bags are one of the most common items of plastic pollution and can take up to 1000 years to break down in the environment. A simple way to reduce your reliance on them is by using a reusable shopping bag.

Reusable Coffee Cups – Single-use coffee cups account for more than two billion disposable cups being used each year! Most coffee shops offer discounts if you bring your own cup, so there’s really no excuse not to switch over.

Reusable Straws – Plastic straws are one of the top five items found during beach cleanups. If every person in America stopped using plastic straws for just one day, we could save enough straws to wrap around the Earth two and a half times! There are a number of great reusable straw options on the market made from bamboo, stainless steel, or silicone.

Companies That Are Changing Their Ways

There are a number of large companies that are making a change in the way they produce plastic products and packaging. Plastic pollution is becoming an increasingly hot topic, with more people demanding sustainable alternatives. Some of these companies include:

Starbucks – Starbucks has announced that it will eliminate all single-use plastic straws from its stores by 2020. The coffee giant will replace them with compostable straws and other eco-friendly options;

Plastic Packaging – Plastic packaging producer Plastipak Holdings has pledged to make all its packaging recyclable or compostable by 2025;

Unilever – Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever has promised to halve its use of virgin plastics by 2025 and completely phase out single-use plastic packaging. It is also currently developing a Plastic Disclosure Project to help increase transparency and accountability in the industry;

Puma – German sportswear manufacturer Puma has vowed to eliminate all single-use plastics from its supply chain by 2020, including those found in shoe boxes;

Mars – Mars will be using 100 percent recycled or sustainable materials for its own brand packaging by 2025. Its other brands include Uncle Ben’s rice, Wrigley chewing gum, and Whiskas cat food. The company estimates that it uses more than 111 million pounds of PET every year – And 70% of this comes from customers who bring their empty wrappers back into stores for recycling. By phasing out virgin material use over time, we can help close the loop on plastic, ensuring all of our products are made from recycled content.

Companies That Are Making A Change

Many companies are making a change and taking action against plastic pollution. With plastics runnings through waterways and destroying our marine life, these companies are making a difference:

The Ocean Cleanup – Dutch startup The Ocean Cleanup is developing a system to collect and recycle plastic from the ocean. It has already raised over $40 million in funding;

Plastic Bank – Plastic Bank partners with local communities in poverty-stricken areas to help them start recycling programs. In exchange for collecting and sorting recyclable materials, locals are given access to goods and services like banking, education, and healthcare;

B Corp – B Corps are certified companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. There are now more than 2400 Certified B Corps around the world, including Danone, Patagonia, and Tesla.

How You Can Take Action

There are many ways you can take action against plastic pollution and help reduce the amount of waste produced each year. Here are a few suggestions:

Reduce – Try to reduce your overall consumption, especially of disposable items;

Reuse – Reuse what you can, whether it’s shopping bags, containers, or straws;

Recycle – Make sure you recycle everything that can be recycled, including plastics. Plastic recycling is not always easy or convenient, so try to find a local program or use a recycling service like the Container Deposit Scheme in Australia or Terracycle in the US. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats facing our environment today. It affects marine life, wildlife, and even humans. But there are things we can do to help combat this issue.

By using reusable items and supporting companies who are taking action, we can help reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. If you are interested in supporting BioEnviro on our venture to minimise plastic pollution, you could purchase one of our reusable bottles or even share our social media or blogs!

The Future Of Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats facing our environment today. Plastic waste has increased dramatically in recent years, with up to 12 million tonnes entering the ocean every year – by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the world’s oceans! Plastic can take hundreds of years to break down, and it doesn’t biodegrade- instead, it just breaks into smaller pieces that are often ingested by marine life or mistaken for food.

If our consumption of plastic continues at the rate of today, it won’t be long until the plastic is the most common element in the earth’s crust. Plastic pollution can be as small as a microplastic particle, which is found mostly in cosmetics, or large chunks of plastic debris such as discarded fishing nets and bottles – these can even end up on our dinner tables!

The amount of waste produced by today’s society has reached epic proportions; we produce over 300 million tonnes every year worldwide. Plastic makes up about 40% of this total mass every year. In comparison to other materials used for packaging (aluminum cans make up 19%, glass jars account for 12%), plastics have huge environmental impacts that need to be addressed if we hope to solve global warming issues caused by greenhouse gas emissions – 63% of plastic production worldwide up-cycles into more plastic products, with only 14% being recycled.

There have been many attempts for governments at devising ways of tackling this problem – such as banning single-use plastics like straws, bags, and cutlery from restaurants and shops around the globe, but these bans don’t go far enough because they’re disorganized and often ill-informed on how to properly deal with recycling.

However, every day more and more people are becoming aware and educated on the issue, and are taking a stand against the hazardous effects of plastic pollution. Plastic is one of the greatest environmental issues we face today, but it doesn’t have to be like this forever – there are plenty of ways for you to help reduce its negative impact on our environment!