Editorial Feature

How to Reduce the Plastic You Throw Away

Over the years, the human population have turned a blind eye to the consequences plastic can have to our health and to the environment. The amount of plastic wastes found in dead sea animals and birds alone is staggering; the global plastic waste management seems to be impossible at the scale it is present today.

Image Credit:Shutterstock/MaximBlinkov

A study conducted by Australian scientists figured that about 437 million to 8.3 billion ‘plastic straws’ alone are on the world's coastlines! Sadly that number is small when compared to the plastic pollution in the oceans. United Nations has launched a global call to action, to help end the scourge of ocean plastic pollution.

Plastic Waste Management

Plastic waste management is critical for the ecosystem health and human livelihoods. The human population exceeds 7.6 billion; every individual can make an astronomical difference in reducing the plastic supply and managing plastic waste. Combating plastics use and misuse at the global level starts at home.

Measures to Reduce Plastic that is Thrown Away

Simple measures to reduce the plastic that we throw away at home should be the following:

  • Always carry re-fill bottles for drinking water. Stop buying bottled water. Carry water in your own non-plastic bottles.
  • Carry one mug for shops were one-time use glassware are used. On average, 7 million coffee cups are thrown in a day in UK alone!
  • Carry your own biodegradable straws or steel and avoiding the plastic straws will make a huge difference in plastic waste control.
  • Avoid disposable diapers for babies unless essential; adopt cloth diapers - safe for babyskin as well as the environment.
  • Avoid home deliveries that are not eco-friendly, using plastic for packaging; insist on fibre-packaging. Food packaging is big industry; with non-recyclable materials, it is also not a healthy option for us. Cook more; avoid ordering.
  • Tooth paste, shampoos, soaps also contain microplastics that end up in water canals and oceans. Ayurvedic options and bio-products are eco-friendly, and equally efficient in performance.
  • Anything plastic - cutlery, school bags, stationary, flower pots, food storage containers/bags, cigarette butts (the filters), etc - avoid it. The alternative may be a bit expensive, however, in the long run it does a great deal for the environment.
  • Recycle any plastic that you can. It it helps immensely.

Become a plastic-conscious customer. Though bold global ideas and actions are adopted by many policy makers, we must do our bit.

“As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.” -Roland Geyer, et al. in Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made, Science Advances.

Conclusion

Whilst some of these measures may sound extreme and may take time to put into practice, the benefits to the populations health and protecting the environment are immense. Being on the brink of the world getting consumed by plastics, we cannot afford the luxury of not adopting these ‘anti-plastic’ habits into our lifestyle.

References

  1. https://news.un.org/en/tags/plastic
  2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768.full
  3. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/6/eaat0131?intcmp=trendmd-adv&_ga=2.215551700.2143384855.1558607449-269283413.1556900172
  4. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6374/460?intcmp=trendmd-sci
  5. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.full
  6. https://www.earthday.org/2018/06/08/what-you-can-do-to-end-plastic-pollution/
  7. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-solutions-waste-pollution/
  8. https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/ten-tips-reduce-your-plastic-footprint

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Dr. Ramya Dwivedi

Written by

Dr. Ramya Dwivedi

Ramya has a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the National Chemical Laboratories (CSIR-NCL), in Pune. Her work consisted of functionalizing nanoparticles with different molecules of biological interest, studying the reaction system and establishing useful applications.

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