How To Slow Down The Single-Use ‘Plastic’ Rampage

It was the shocking condition of trash, mostly plastic, that had first pushed me into starting Clean The Beach Boot Camp program. Although it was a healthy body that was on my mind, it was pretty clear from the sight of things that without a healthy environment, health was just fancy talk. In only four years of starting CBBC, we managed to clear off more than 1.12 million pounds of trash world wide. By then, it was obvious to all of us involved, PLASTIC is the main culprit, and we needed to take it down.

Clearing trash that had already washed ashore was only dealing with the effect and not addressing the cause behind the issue. If you follow the whole chain of events before the plastic garbage makes its way to our oceans or beaches, you will soon reach the common people, regular households and most probably, your own home. We may not have much control over all the logistics and environmental factors that go into garbage management, but we do, however, have complete control over what we choose to bring home… And by that I mean SINGLE USE PLASTIC.

Why fuss over ‘single-use plastic’?
Well, for starters, we produce somewhere around 300-400 million tons of plastic every year. About 90% of these, get dumped, not recycled. In just Europe, over a 100 million plastic bags are given out every year. Over half of these, are used just once! And it’s the same case with plastic wrappers, straws, cups.. The list is quite long. Remember that plastic takes over thousands or even millions of years to decompose. Hence, the now popular but scary term, ‘Single Use Plastic’.

Although plastic, in general, is a huge concern, narrowing it down to single-use plastic makes it far simpler for us common folks to do something about this issue. So now, let’s take a look at some of the common variety of these inorganic pests that we can get rid of right away!

Plastic Straws
Did you know, you can drink pretty much anything directly with your mouth without the help of a straw? It might even feel more natural and easier. Jokes apart, do you seriously need that straw? Because, although seemingly small and innocent looking, these little buggers are manufactured in the billions around the world and almost always ends up clogging our waterways and landfills.

“500 million straws are used and thrown away every day in the United States alone.”

Besides, if you do prefer to sip through a straw, there are stainless steel alternatives that you can proudly flaunt. But that’s not the actual issue here. Most of the time, there is a store policy in play that instructs its staff to stuff the customer’s bag with plastic straws, cups and cutlery at the slightest hint of them buying something to drink or eat. And when you consider the fact that hundreds of millions of customers walk in and out such convenient stores, fast food joints etc. every single day with a handful of plastic straws just to be thrown away, the reality is quite unnerving. Here’s an example, of one of the world’s largest chain of convenience stores showing no concern for the environment – 7-Eleven & Plastic: A ​​Tragic​ ​Saga. But it’s still important that each of us does our part. So, #RefuseTheStraw!

Plastic bags
The dreaded plastic bag! Probably the mother of all these single-use pests. The plastic bags finds its way into everyone’s hands and comes loaded with other plastic items in it.

Can you imagine, a million plastic bags were given out around the world, in just the last minute. And all of it gets discarded the moment the person carrying it, reaches home. It’s no rocket science on how to avoid this menace. Just take your own cloth or paper bag with you the next time you go shopping for groceries. Plus it makes you look way cooler than the ones with the noisy plastic bags. That’s probably the main reason some of the retail stores now opt for paper bags instead!

Coffee Cups
Another seemingly harmless everyday thing makes it into the list of avoidable and harmful single-use plastic items. Once again, citing the example of 7-Eleven stores, an astounding 1.1 million coffee cups leave their store every day. And this not including the other beverages that too are sold in the millions every day or the additional straws, spoons etc. that they pack for you.

“The United Kingdom alone discards around 3 billion coffee cups every year!”

If you must have your coffee on the go, then you should consider carrying along your own mug or flask with you. Besides, the plastic used on the inner lining of coffee cups are not of the highest quality and have been found to be leaking BPA and other toxins when in contact with hot or acidic items. And if you are sitting down at the cafe, then it really is a no-brainer to opt for a mug, isn’t it?

Water Bottles
This one here has many readily available alternatives, and yet it is one the major plastic pollutants out there. The plastic bottles we use to quench our thirst is slowly clogging up and poisoning the very source of water! Even a flimsy water bottle, takes about 1000 years to decompose.

Carrying your own stainless steel or glass water bottle is the safest, smartest and also the cheapest way to drink water! Just fill it up at a water fountain or simply ask at the cafe or restaurant you were in.

Plastic Cutlery
If you regularly have your lunch at work using plastic plates and spoons, keeping some of your own environmentally friendly dishes in the office kitchen will only make you look like a more aware and smarter person. You will also have a much cleaner conscience, knowing that the plate you had food from won’t turn into a toxic food for some other life form by getting dumped in the ocean.  

These might seem like tiny steps, but make no mistake – Each person’s effort in this fight against single-use plastic has a significant effect in bringing down the harm caused by it. After all, it is not just the big corporations, but us common folk that are the primary consumers of single-use plastic. When we all stop consuming, the corporations will have no choice but to heed to the need of the hour – and that is to stop this plastic rampage!

ibanplastic is one such movement, fighting the plastic problem haunting our planet using the support of individuals like you and me. If you too have taken some meaningful steps to reduce the usage of single-use plastic, please share it through your comments and get a few others motivated enough to act!

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