Scientists have been sending out red alerts for a long time that the disposal of all waste matter is not proper. Hence, the greatest concern that has emerged is the adverse disposal of single-use plastics. Furthermore, its corollaries are destroying our oceans and water bodies. Canadians generate more than 9 million tonnes of garbage for the landfill each year. Approximately 35% of this trash comes from consumer goods and food packaging.
It is discovered that over 100,000 aquatic mammals and more than 1 million marine birds die due to single-use plastic annually. A recent study has revealed the presence of plastic inside the body of every single seal, dolphin, and whale examined. The prediction of plastic being more common than fishes in the oceans by the year 2050 is a possibility.
It is nearly impossible to eliminate plastic from the consumerist system. Nonetheless, we can easily avoid single-use plastics to protect our waterways from being consumed. Take necessary measures and opt for their sustainable alternatives to these 10 worst single-use plastic products:
Single-Use Plastics And Their Alternatives
Beach clean-up drives listed plastic straws among the top 10 items found in waterways. Americans use enough single-use plastic straws and stirrers every day to pollute the seas and oceans globally. Canadians use nearly 57 million plastic straws each day. Moreover, municipal bodies do not even recycle this type of single-use plastics.
Alternative: Straws are unnecessary usually. If needed, one can carry reusable ones. Restaurants and bars should provide paper straws to only those who need them.
Victoria, B.C. has implemented a ban on plastic bags in grocery stores. This resulted in widespread disputes in Canada as well. Greener Footprints Society, a non-profit environmental preservation group from B.C., has found Canada using 9-15 billion single-use plastic bags annually. While parts of Toronto city encourage plastic bag disposal in blue bins, other municipalities are yet to take effective steps.
Alternative: Carry your reusable bag to support the ‘zero waste kit’.
Recycling efforts of plastic bottles are significantly surpassed by its disposal that will witness a 20% increase by 2021 worldwide. Only 23% of 50 million single-use plastic bottles get recycled in the US. This indicates 38 million of those end up in waterways or landfills.
Alternative: Carry your own refillable bottle before going out. Toronto created an app named ‘Quench’ that helps in locating the nearest water fountain. Commercial places must shift to reusable cups.
Coffee Cups & Single-Use Plastic Lids
Single-use coffee cups are made with polyethylene oil-based plastic lining. This prevents the easy separation from its outer paper shell during recycling and reaches landfills. Starbucks disposes of 4 billion coffee cups every year. Dark-colored plastic lids in Toronto must be thrown in the trash.
Alternative: Carry reusable cups or try collapsible coffee cups that reduce the extra bulk.
Single-Use Plastic Cups
Every year 500 billion single-use cups are disposed of. Alarmingly, the number is large enough to travel around the planet 1,360 times. Foam cups are convenient and lightweight. However, most municipalities avoid collecting and recycling them.
Alternative: Masons jars and reusable cups are largely available. Food chains and cafes must switch to compostable and eco-friendly alternatives soon.
Single-Use Plastic Containers
All of the black take-out containers extensively found are non-recyclable. Municipal recycling facilities identify recyclable plastic through light reflection. However, black prevents light reflection and, thus, fails to pass through the optical scanners. 78 million metric tonnes of packaging is generated annually. Plastic debris will increase by 40% within 2030 according to estimations.
Alternative: Carry your own containers while you collect a take-out from a restaurant. Bring multi-tiered containers for multiple dishes. Additionally, get reusable condiment bowls for sauces. Opt for an environment-friendly takeaway.
Single-Use Plastic Wrap
Toronto accepts thin plastics in single-use wraps and produces bags for recycling. Although an article in Toronto Star highlights the overseas export of non-biodegradable plastics that exploits labor laws. Recently China banned importing 20 categories of solid waste and recycling. However, this gives rise to menacing landfills and unsustainable disposal practices.
Alternative: Completely avoid plastic wraps and go for reusable containers and bowls. Moreover, several takeaways will happily give your food in your own tiffin container.
415 cotton buds are disposed of by one person every year while the number of products is a staggering 1.5 million a year. Unfortunately, disposal of the majority of these is irresponsible. Moreover, they end up polluting our waterways. Cotton buds turn into small plastic sticks that are rigid and easily ingested by fishes and marine mammals.
Alternative: Bamboo and other organic cotton buds are available. Eco-friendly silicon swabs are also a viable alternative.
In water bodies, one can find plastic cutlery the most. There has been an increase in the number of takeaway and commercial food chains using cutlery, bags, containers, and other products. Moreover, these are exclusively single-use plastics. Furthermore, recycling machines do not have the equipment to segregate plastic cutlery. Hence, they easily end up floating on waterways.
Alternative: Reusable spork and cutlery sets are small yet necessary steps. Ask your favorite food stores to shift to organic or reusable cutlery.
Beverage cans often have a plastic ring connected to the lid to secure the packaging. These plastic rings are tiny yet deadly for marine wildlife. Hence, the small-sized item easily finds its way into the body of marine animals.
Alternative: Avoid buying canned beverages as they are always connected with 6 pack rings. Moreover, dispose of the rings properly on buying or finding any of them.
Take part in clean-up drives and encourage your community to live sustainably. Host environment awareness programs with family and friends to encourage the use of alternatives to single-use plastics. Remind people around you that single-use plastics do not disappear easily.
Quitting our modern culture’s addiction to plastics can easily feel like an impossible task – however, quite a few single-use plastics are easily avoidable.