Prime Minister Theresa May recently announced new plans to reduce plastic and waste in an already much debated 25-year environmental plan. It would come to no surprise to anyone that waste and plastic is becoming an increasingly big problem the world is facing – but luckily there are many companies, individuals and initiatives who are trying to reduce waste, tackle the issue of plastic flooding our oceans and killing our wildlife, and make people more aware of the impact it is having on the world, our wildlife and our well being.
So what is the actual problem?
Over the last 60 years our use of plastic has skyrocketed. Whereas in previous years you would buy everyday items like your vegetables from the local green grocer or even farmer – nowadays pretty much everything is pre-packed. Research states that we are now producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year. This number is predicted to double by the year 2036, according to the World Economic Forum. Half of the plastic being used is the so called ‘single use’ plastic. This simply means that the plastic (think of the plastic wrapping of a cucumber, for example) will only be used once after being thrown away.
Plastic is difficult to recycle.
The massive amount of plastic waste we produce would potentially be less of a problem if it at least, like paper or cardboard, could be recycled. This is where a large part of the problem lies. To give a concrete example, in the USA in 2014, of all the plastic waste only 9.5 percent of it was recycled and 15 percent was combusted to create electricity or heat. Most of the rest of the plastic ends up in landfill which can take years and years to decompose – as you can see from the infograph in this article.
So when recycling does not happen, the waste has to go somewhere. The plastic on landfills has the risk of leaking pollutants in soil and water, and oceans are being heavily affected, with many million tons of plastic being dumped into the oceans affecting everyone.
What can you do?
The good news is that there are lots of interesting initiatives and movements who are trying to create awareness, and help people become more pro active in reducing waste in every day life. It is not easy though – with the busy lives that everybody leads, our modern 24-hour society makes most people opt for quick, easy and convenient, rather than thinking about the alternatives, or making more of an effort to avoid using plastic, especially the single use kind.
There are small steps you can take, and the infograph here gives you some things to think about already.
If you ever visit the coast – anywhere in the world, the Take 3 initiative motivated everyone to pick up 3 pieces of waste that you can find on the beach, and throw it in the bin. Again, small steps, but if everyone would do so, it can have a big impact.
How far are you willing to go – calling all mums, dads and nanny’s!
One interesting development in the whole ‘reduce waste’ movement, seems to be heavily focused on baby’s. If you have a child – even if their baby stage is far behind you – you will probably remember the endless amounts of nappies and baby wipes you went through. Several companies are trying to crack down the masses of waste that are being created by nappies, and have taken inspiration from our parents and grandparents. You guessed it – reusable nappies and baby wipes.
It is an interesting albeit controversial subject which is dividing mums, dads and nanny’s all over. Older generations might remember the times when there were no disposable nappies and they had to make do with flannels and cloths. There is much to say for both sides, with many argue that besides the environmental argument, the material is also softer/better for the baby’s delicate skin. But in a modern day, busy society – do the benefits way up against the potential hassle of constantly having to wash more products? And having said that – have a think about how many nappies and wipes you used with your baby, or the babies you cared for. Would you have the washing machine constantly on, and would that in itself contribute to using more electricity and water?
We at Polo & Tweed would love to hear from all you mums, dads and nanny’s: have you ever used re-uable nappies or wipes, what are your experiences? Or would you not dream of going near them? Let’s get a discussion going!
We understand is can be very challenging and difficult to change your lifestyle overnight whether this is the bags you use, the products you buy or the way you clean your babies bottom. Whichever way you look at it, the plastic problem is a pressing one that will simply not go away – especially if we ignore it. And whatever your views or lifestyle, if everyone makes little changes in their everyday life, it can make a big difference. We would love to hear what you think, if you are taking steps to reduce plastic in your life, or if you have any more tips to share with everyone!
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