Have you ever wondered what happens to a plastic bag after you throw it away? Most people don't actually think about it. The few who do just assume that waste companies probably do the right thing and get rid of them properly. Unfortunately that is not the case.
The Truth About Plastic Waste
Every year, over 500 billion plastic bags end up as waste. Out of which only 9% ever get recycled. That's about 150 plastic bags per person. The rest end up either choking waterways and drains, taking up space in landfills or as litter on beaches and in oceans. To make that worse, plastics can take over 500 years to decay. Meaning with every plastic bag used, we're slowly covering the planet with harmful waste that will remain for years.
Apart from plastic bags, a huge chunk of plastic waste comes from plastic bottles, single-use cutlery, straws, food containers and packaging materials. All these contribute to the 381 million tonnes of plastic waste produced worldwide every year. It's no wonder that some 8 million pieces of plastic waste make their way into the sea everyday. In fact, experts claim approximately 88% of the ocean's surface is covered in plastic waste.
How Plastic Waste Is Destroying The Planet
Ultimately we end up paying the price. Plastic waste leads to loss of biodiversity which is key in maintaining the ecosystems that preserve our food chain. It also causes poisoning of fish and other forms of aquatic life. Now, 1 in every 3 wild-caught fish will have consumed plastic, most in the form of microbeads, which will end up in a consumer's belly. Micro plastic beads (found in toothpaste, exfoliating scrubs, body wash etc) remain in seawater for long, long enough to end up forming toxic, cancer-causing compounds that eventually end up in food.
Easy Steps To Cut Down On Plastic Waste
So what can we do to reduce plastic waste? July 3rd is International Plastic Bag Free Day and on social media, the #plasticfreejuly campaign is helping to bring awareness how plastics are hurting the planet and what different brands and influencers are trying to do about it. But what about the average everyday person? Here are a few simple steps you can take to help reduce plastic waste?
- Take a reusable fabric shopping bag with you every time you go shopping. Worst case, opt for a paper bag. It helps if you have a reusable bag handy always so you are less inclined to take a plastic bag when you go out to buy something.
- Instead of buying bottled water, carry your own refillable drinking bottle/flask, preferably a metal one. Single use water bottles account for a huge chunk of plastic waste. Imagine how much waste could potentially be avoided if everyone kept a personal flask instead of just buying bottled water!
- Avoid using disposable straws as much as possible. Choose a metal or glass reusable straw.
- Buy your grains, rice, pasta and cereals from bulk bins and store them in reusable containers. This helps you save money too.
- Pack your own lunch or take your own reusable bowls whenever you're ordering takeout from a restaurant to avoid styrofoam packaging and disposable cutlery.
- Eat fresh fruit and home squeezed juice rather than pre-packaged juice or single serve snacks and desserts since these mostly come in disposable plastics.
The Zola Collective's zero waste initiative is our little way of helping to reduce the plastic waste burden on the planet. All our products are packaged in eco-friendly, biodegradable packaging. Our ingredients are sustainably sourced. That means the process of collection through to packaging is done in a way that ensures everyone in our supply chain gets maximum benefits whiIe still protecting the environment.
With our combined efforts, we can reduce the burden of plastic waste to the environment. We could reduce the risk of food poisoning from toxins and help preserve the planet for future generations too. So let's keep July plastic free!
PS: Which of these simple tips are you adopting this month? Share these with a friend!