Reducing Plastic Waste: A 3-Pronged Approach & How We Can Help
The issue of plastic waste has recently come to the forefront, with alarming images of Garbage Island and The Great Pacific Garbage Patch circulating on Facebook.
The quick facts on why plastic waste is so scary:
- 90% of sea birds are believed to have plastic in their stomach. Many of whom feed plastic to their babies thinking it is food. *sigh*
- According to Recycle Nation, “traditional petroleum-based plastic products can take more than 1,000 years to completely break down in an open setting (and never in a landfill).”
- According to National Geographic, Global plastic production doubles every 11 years. So this issue is not going away by itself anytime soon.
- An estimated 50% of plastic is only used once before being thrown away.
To truly solve this rapidly growing issue, there are three specific issues we need equal focus on addressing:
1. Increased Adoption of Plastic Recycling
We are at a point in time where we have created so much plastic, if we can simply start doing a better job of recycling it we wouldn’t need to create any more. Producing new plastic requires pulling finite resources from our planet, demands energy and generates pollution – on top of contributing to the alarming issue of ocean plastic waste.
Banning plastic bags and straws are a great start to helping reduce our overall volume of waste production. But it’s just scraping the surface of the problem. So the obvious solution here: we all just need to recycle. It’s not just a hippy thing, it’s a “let’s make sure our grandkids have a planet with living sea creatures” thing. You can even get cash if you want to take the extra step of bringing your recycling in yourself. I cash out about $30 a month for our family of four. Not going to get rich from it, but hey – it’s free money!
2. Creation of Plastic Alternatives
Another approach to solving plastic waste is through the creation of plant-based plastic alternatives which offer the ability to decompose. Companies like Pela Case have doubled down on this opportunity by re-inventing plastic phone cases–a major contributor of plastic waste. Their products are 100% compostable and biodegradable, made from plant-based materials such as flax-seed.
Other brands such as Verterra, produces compostable paper plates and utensils made from 100% renewable resources–AKA not trees.
And the reusable water bottle trend that Hydroflask seemingly popularized, but has only gained momentum with brands like Faucet Face and Swell, is playing a major role in the reduction of plastic water bottle usage. We’re making a lot of progress in short order, but have a long way to go to reduce our continued plastic production and start really chipping away at the accumulation of plastic waste we have accrued over the past couple decades.
3. Purchasing Goods Made from Recycled Plastic
I remember the day I learned that our playground rubber padding was made from ground up recycled tires–I thought it was so novel and fantastic. We’ve come a long way since then. Thanks to technological innovations in processing and blending plastic with other materials, plastic is now even being used to make quality soft goods such as fabrics and mats. I have a favorite pair of leggings made from Girlfriend Collective recycled plastic water bottles – they are soft, durable and going on 3 years of frequent use. So when you see “made from recycled plastic” on a label–give it a chance! We have to start embracing a circular ecosystem, and embracing these products is an important first step. You may be pleasantly surprised at the comparable quality, and will feel great about your purchase too.
In a shopping mood? Browse items from recycled materials.