Single-use plastic

How convenience became a curse

 Single-use or disposable plastic is any type of plastic disposed after a single-use by the consumer.

Over time, for many of us, it has become very convenient to use disposable products, most commonly plastic water bottles, bags, straws and cutlery.  This is part of our lifestyles in many countries around the world. The cause being – convenience and low cost. For example, getting a plastic bottle is convenient and is cheap because as soon as you finish it, you can throw it. This is what we call an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude. The fact that we can get hot beverages in a single-use cup and dispose of it after it’s finished, has become very normal in our society. After all, why would you keep it? However…

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, all the single-use plastic you throw, where does it end up?

Your answer may be, “it’s getting recycled, right?”

My question to you would be –  “if it’s getting recycled, why are our oceans full of plastic trash? Why didn’t that amount of plastic get recycled?”

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The amount of plastic waste produced every year is ginormous. Not everything gets recycled and not every kind of plastic packaging can be recycled.

Recently, Malaysia decided to return 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste to the UK and other countries. The waste that can’t be managed by some countries is sent to Asia or Africa. In this case, Malaysia refused to be the dumping ground for many reasons including serious health issues for its population. Countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia have been deluged with so much waste and their recycling systems have been overwhelmed. Rubbish has often been dumped or discarded, only to end up as marine litter.

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A Greenpeace photographer captured the above image of a dump site for imported plastic waste in Jenjarom, Malaysia.

According to the National Geographic – “Of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste” – This demonstrates how waste management is flawed. Only 9% of plastic get recycled, 79% is dumped in landfills, and 8 million metric tons in our oceans.

The above numbers are hard to believe and it does come as shock as to how we ended up here, how did plastic which is part of our convenient lifestyle, become a curse for our planet and every living creature?

The top list of plastic waste includes our daily usage products such as plastic shopping bags, plastic water bottles, disposable coffee cups, plastic packaging, straws, cutlery, fast food containers, toothbrushes, toothpastes, shower gel, shampoo bottles, and the list just goes on. All of this forms part of the waste we produce as a society.

Crazy Fact – Did you know that over 8 litres of water is required to produce just one single-use water bottle of 1 litre? Considering the global scarcity of natural resources, wasting such vast amounts of it over a material that will be used just once, is simply unacceptable.

Our convenient way of life has become a curse for our planet and every living creature on it. Plastic has been mistaken for food by many animals, mainly birds and marine creatures. When plastic is ingested, it fills up the digestive systems of the animals thus contributing to health complications or their death due to blockage or starvation.

Microplastic once ingested by the smaller fish and marine animals travels up the food chain to bigger and bigger animals that prey on the smaller ones. And finally, it can make it to our dinner tables.

Little ray of hope – The EU Parliament has voted for ban on single-use plastic. A proposed ban targets the top 10 single-use products that litters European beaches.Law will come into force by 2021 across EU

Now that you know a little bit about the effect of single-use plastic on our planet, let’s share that knowledge with each other and help make this planet a better place for every living creature. Let’s improve our habits for the sake of future generations, humans and animals alike.

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Categories Plastic Free World
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