Plastic Is One Of The Biggest Environmental Hazards And There Are Plenty Of Ways To Reduce Your Use. Anti-Plastic Mama Leonie Tells Us How…
I have become a plastic-phobe, someone who tries to avoid using petrol-derivatives all day, everyday. This nearly impossible task has started to consume me. The endemic use of plastic products in Dubai is overwhelmingly hard to avoid and while I dream of a zero-waste lifestyle I am also a practical working muma. We are the only living things that create un-degradable waste. I feel this extraordinary reliance on environmentally destructive products should be a thing of the past. We are a creative and brilliant civilisation and using a straw for four minutes only to condemn it to slowly rot for 700 years in our oceans is beneath us. I also feel that entombing our fresh food in petrol-by-products must be bad for our health. So what can we do?
Wherever possible reduce your use of plastic. Avoiding using single use plastic: plastic water bottles, shopping bags, lids on coffee, straws, razors, plastic cutlery, tiny hotel shampoos, filling goodie-bags with one-hit-wonder-toys and anything that has a short life span. I have tried to boycott takeaways and supermarkets that show little regard for packaging restraint but I also find that people are unaware of how damaging plastic is, so just spreading the word can help a mindless act become more considered.
If you do, as is usual, inherit a plastic tub or container use it until it dies to try to minimise the waste. Squeeze every last drop out of a tube of toothpaste and reuse your toothbrushes for household cleaning. Toys and gadgets that could have a second life can be up-cycled and repurposed, sold or gifted away instead of being binned.
It is nearly impossible to recycle all plastics. We have over 50 different types of plastic in common food packaging alone and while some are recyclable, most are headed straight for landfill. The terrifying statistics about 300 billion bits of plastic cluttering up the previously pristine Arctic sadden me deeply. Support products that use recycled material and actively state that they are part of a cycle not just ‘recyclable’. For example Adidas who have made trainers from plastic recovered from the ocean’s gyres, only 50 pairs initially but a start that could see 3D printers using waste as their raw material.
Plastic is so pervasive because it is versatile and inexpensive. If we demanded that products were designed from cradle to grave, and that manufacturers had to be responsible for the waste they create we might see more clever design. Where possible look for items that are intelligently designed or responsibly sourced, supporting products that showcase a low environmental impact. I also find that many of us opt for convenience over creativity, I try to make my children’s packed lunches completely plastic free, instead using little glass pots (adored by the teaches for their potential to smash into tiny pieces) with little wooden spoons and wrapping sandwiches in waxed paper.
The best advice I can give to anyone is to refuse to use plastic. If we all took a stand in our own way we could make an enormous impact. Saying no to any food in plastic, refusing cups on airplanes, returning plastic toys and constantly looking for better alternatives. I have learnt so much by trying to find interesting solutions to common problems. It is possible to have a plastic free period, and to buy all your face creams in glass if you look hard enough. At work I have refused to let cheaper plastic in our products and insist on composite wood instead. People think I am barmy but I hope my crazy will spread and that we will think about our choices and the lasting affect they have on our planet.
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