“It is the worst of times, but it is the best of times because we still have a chance!” – Sylvia Earle
Why did I choose this quotation to start the blog? Because it gives me hope!
When we look around us, when we listen to the news and read articles on the web, it gives us a very chaotic view of things, especially when it comes to the plastic waste problem. It makes the current scenario seem as if the world’s going to end tomorrow! But Sylvia’s quote always makes me take a deep breath and calm down, assuring me that matters aren’t as bad as they are being portrayed, and as long as we keep working to restore the Earth, we still have a chance.
And my concern for the well-being of our planet was what led me to write this blog, and I’m sure you share the same concern, given that you’re still with me and reading.
Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine yourself standing in a forest, where the chirping of birds and scurrying of animals surrounds you. The sound of a stream flowing in the distance and the soft rustling of the leaves instantly brings you a feeling of calmness and tranquility. These sounds indicate life and survival.
If you change the scenario a bit and imagine a crackling forest fire, dead fish washed up on the shore, and the wild waves of the ocean threatening to swallow the coastal village, how do you feel? Not calm, I’m sure. It brings a feeling of chaos and fear.
These were mere imaginations that instilled two opposite feelings in you. Now, if you’re given a choice to choose any one of these, the majority of us would go for the peaceful forest scene because it makes us happy.
If we talk about the real world, we would definitely want to live in a clean and green place with fresh air to breathe. But sadly, most of the places are devoid of all this.
And who is to be blamed? The animals? The birds? Or the fishes? It’s us, the humans, who are the reason for all that’s happening on Earth. We are not only putting our own lives in danger, but we are posing a threat to all other living beings that coexist with us.
But like I quoted earlier, it’s not too late! We still have a chance! We can still emerge from the mountains of trash and oceans of plastic as good as new. We can still take one step at a time and make our planet great again.
But how? For this, we will have to look at the root cause of everything and how we can turn the tables.
Is it Plastic?
My desire to create a better planet for our future generations led me to do a considerable amount of research on the primary cause of environmental pollution. The answer would always be, among other factors, plastic pollution.
Plastic Waste Facts
Did you know that the items we use in our everyday life account for the 8 million tons of plastic that finds its way into the ocean and pollutes it? Let me add that only 9% of this plastic is recycled, and the rest remains in the ocean forever, posing a threat to our lives as well as the marine creatures.
Plastic waste is not the result of recent activities. This has been going on since the beginning of time. It took several million years of plastic pollution for the Earth to reach this stage where natural resources are literally going extinct, like the coral reefs and coastal wetlands.
And just like it took so many years for the planet to get polluted, it will take many years to de-pollute it. And this is not only the responsibility of a single organization or the government; it is our responsibility as well.
We have to be the part of the solution, not part of the pollution!
Before discussing the ways to reduce plastic waste, first let’s discuss of consequence excessive plastic Use.
Ramifications of Excessive Plastic Use
Most of you must probably be aware of the various ramifications of excessive plastic use, but just to remind you how harmful it is for the environment, here are a few pointers:
1. Plastic waste is Imperishable
It can take up to 1000 years for plastic to break down! This means that the plastic we use and discard every day, especially single-use plastic, ends up in landfills and eventually the oceans and remains there for hundreds and thousands of years.
2. Plastic waste Contains Harmful Pollutants
Apart from being imperishable, plastic has the potential to leak harmful pollutants into the soil and the ocean. The chemical components in plastic can be absorbed by us, as well as land and marine animals, which can have a negative effect on health, and in some cases, can also be fatal.
3. Plastic Production Uses Tons of Fossil Fuels
Another point that goes against plastic is that a large amount of our fossil fuels are used in its production. According to research based on the tons of plastic in the landfills of the United States, the chemical energy contained in the discarded plastic items is equal to almost 37 million tons of coal or 139 million barrels of oil!
4. Plastic waste is Bad for Ocean Life
If plastic can be so toxic for humans, imagine what havoc it can wreak on the oceanic ecosystem? The majority of sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and other marine creatures are injured or killed just because plastic blocks their windpipes and stomachs.
5. Microplastics are Destructive to Marine Life
Some forms of plastic can break down in the ocean into further small pieces, the size of planktons and are often known as microplastics. You must be wondering how can such small pieces possibly affect sea creatures? These small plastic components have the tendency to collect insanely high amounts of toxins like DDT that can be dangerous for the creatures that ingest them, as well as for us, who eat seafood.
With so many points that go against plastic, I think it’s about time we did something about it. We cannot let our planet be consumed by plastic. We should try to bring about a change slowly and gradually to rid the world of plastic pollution.
If you’re still with me, I’m sure you’re all set to take the leap! Here’s how you can help:
Your Contribution in Plastic Waste Reduction – 7 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste
Before getting into the details of how you can help reduce plastic waste, let me be a bit honest with you: It’s not possible to eliminate all plastic from our lives; however, there are certain ways in which we can reduce the amount of plastic we buy, consume and throw away.
Like me, many of you, who are genuinely concerned about plastic pollution, must be already working on ways to reduce plastic usage. But, I constantly challenge myself to do more. I keep looking for items that still need to be eliminated from my home, things that I can stop buying, and stuff that I can replace with a more environmentally friendly alternative.
Therefore, here are a few ways in which you can continue to help reduce plastic waste. And for those who are new to this cause and think it’s time to take plastic pollution seriously can use this as a starter pack.
1. Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB)
I know this sounds quite a task to eliminate plastic bags from your life. After all, how in the world are you going to carry your grocery items? No need to fret. There are alternatives. For example, if you have bought only a handful of items from the store, you can opt for no bag and carry those items outside yourself. If that’s too much for you, you can carry your own canvas or fabric bag or switch to paper bags for lightweight items.
2. Say No to Products with Microbeads
There was a time when every other beauty product came laden with microbeads, claiming to do wonders for the skin. Whether they did or did not make your skin flawless, they sure did end up in the digestive tracts of land and sea creatures putting their lives at risk. So, if you find your skincare routine incomplete without the exfoliating microbeads, you can always switch to products with ground beads, shells or pumice to get the same results, but in a more eco-friendly way.
3. Plastic Straws Begone!
Sipping soda out of a cup may smudge your lipstick, but believe me, it does wonders for the environment! But if you’ve spent hours perfecting your lipliner and don’t want to risk ruining it, or if you’re having a smoothie or blended juice which requires a straw, you can still use it, not the plastic one though; but paper or reusable stainless steel or glass straws.
4. Disposable Razors? A Big No!
You must have come across two kinds of razors, the ones with disposable blades and the ones that are disposable as a whole. We usually go for the disposable ones because why go through the hassle of changing blades when you can simply change the whole thing? But let me tell you that disposable razors are mostly made up of plastic and a bit of rubber and are not easily recyclable. Also, they don’t last that long, so you have to replace them every now and then. What does this mean? Tons of plastic razors in the landfill! On the other hand, metal razors, or those with disposable blades, can last for several years without replacement. They are definitely a better choice!
5. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Every month we spend hundreds of dollars on cleaning products for our homes, ranging from detergents to bleaches, and lately, disinfectants and sanitizers have also made it to the list. These bottles are made of unrecyclable plastic. Every time the product ends, you discard the bottle and get a new one. So how do we clean our homes, you ask? Switch to homemade cleaning products! They are less expensive, more effective, and an environmentally responsible choice. But more importantly, you can refill them in spray bottles or other containers instead of buying a new one every time.
6. Avoid Plastic Food Containers
Eating out is one of the most loved activities of a regular US citizen, especially fast food. How can you make an environmentally conscious choice here? By opting for places that serve food in reusable and washable plastic trays or use biodegradable utensils. We should avoid places that use single-use plastic plates and spoons and even suggest they opt for a more eco-friendly option. Remember, it’s the small actions that go a long way!
7. Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles
How many times during a picnic or on a trip have you bought a disposable water bottle, drank from it, and tossed it in the bin? Every single time! If we decide to stop drinking from plastic bottles and switch to metal bottles, we can save money as well as the environment. So, get a metal bottle and take it with you wherever you go. Not only can you refill it for free, but you can fill it with any hot or cold beverage of your choice, and here’s the cherry on top – you get one in a stellar design and attractive shape!
Are You Ready to Reduce Plastic waste and Make a Change?
I have shortlisted the most common ways in which we can reduce plastic waste. You can do more to stop plastic pollution like involving authorities, holding beach clean-up activities, and joining organizations working for a similar cause.
To get involved in activities for the restoration of our planet, you can join The Purpose of Earth Foundation and work alongside us to save the Earth and protect the oceans. We are a family-founded non-profit organization with a desire to create a better planet for our future generations.
Our goal is to shift the mindset of the people to make more sustainable choices and take small steps to bring about a gradual change in the years to come. So, are you ready to take those small steps? Are you ready to change the world for the better? If yes, then help us in our cause!
Even the strongest of governments on Earth cannot clean up pollution themselves! They must rely on each ordinary person, like you and me, on our choices and on our will.