Why are *some* people seeking a zero waste lifestyle? Have you ever asked yourself that question and found no answer? Cuz I’m about to answer your question. So, let’s first start with explaining how plastic is manufactured, plastic is manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuels, by processing oil to obtain the raw material for plastics. A study calculated that we use around 4% of the world’s petroleum to make plastic, and another 4% to power plastic manufacturing processes. It might sound like little, but from 1950 to 2012, plastics production increased – from about 1.7 million tons to nearly 300 million tons per year. What’s worse is that a decent amount of this plastic waste is single-use packaging, which means we kill animals, pollute oceans and help increase global warming to use things once then throw them away! Reducing plastic waste is important because plastic production requires an enormous amount of energy and resources. This causes carbon emissions and contributes to global warming. Recycling plastic is not efficient – only 9% of plastic ever produced has been recycled. About 60% is discarded in landfills and oceans. There, it stays for thousands of years, transforming into “microplastic,” leaching into our water supplies and food and killing animals on its way. Plastic not being biodegradable is very dangerous because if landfills aren’t managed properly, they’ll cause serious hazards, which is something life goes well without lol. As I mentioned above, Most plastic isn’t recyclable, why? Well, Most of the plastics we use are either thermoplastic or thermosetting. Thermoplastics include acrylics, nylon and polyethylene (polythene). As you heat them up they get soft, so they can be shaped into any form you like, which also makes them easy to recycle. Milk containers can be melted and reformed into furniture, plastic water bottles become fleece jackets, and hard bottle tops can get a new lease of life as storage boxes. Thermosetting plastics, like Bakelite or polyurethane, are different because they harden as you heat them. Once they have set, you can’t melt them. This makes thermosetting plastics almost impossible to recycle.
So by now most of you ask yourselves “how can I reduce my plastic usage/waste?”, Let me tell you:
- Stop using plastic straws, you can use stainless steel/glass straws instead.
- Use reusable bags instead of plastic ones that take DIJILLION years to degrade. Tote bags make such a good alternative!
- Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.
- Bring your own container and a reusable bottle/mug for take-outs since many restaurants use styrofoam.
- Request restaurants to not pack plasticware in your take-out box.
- For the lovely mommas out there, please use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones + you’ll save money too!
I think I covered most points, hope this was helpful. Stay safe, ppl. Written by: Maryam iibrahiim