This week we have an informative guest post from Anna about reducing plastic consumption.
Today one of the greatest problems facing our beloved environment is plastic packaging. As much as we would love to live in this futuristic utopia where almost everything is eco-friendly, we would first have to acknowledge how impossible it would be to achieve with the ongoing plastic crisis.
This crisis is as a result of the massive use of plastic products over the last five decades. Plastic consumption is doubling by the day! This consumption is directly fuelled by the rapid increase in the population and economic growth rate.
Fossil-fuel based industries and plastic manufacturing factories have pumped billions towards infrastructure designed to enable the extensive manufacture of plastic products.
They do this to try to satisfy plastic’s high demand received from both local consumers and commercial firms like supermarkets. It’s almost impossible today to walk out of a supermarket without having a commodity packaged using plastic.
You’d probably want understand why plastic packaging is such a menace to our environment, wouldn’t you? Most plastic products especially the ones manufactured from petroleum are non-biodegradable. This simply means that they cannot decay when they are done away with.
In fact, it is right to say that you can never do away with them. This is because they would not rot completely. They would simply break down into smaller pieces over time yet stay locked in the ground or settle on the seabed for decades.
The chemical composition of the soil and water body would be thrown of balance consequently affecting both animal and plant life. Secondly plastic products directly contribute to global warming. It is needless to say that global warming is one of the greatest eco hazards we face today.
It will completely change the face of the earth in the recent future if not dealt with as soon as possible. Plastic products are manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuels in processes that release tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere consequently. This is how they cause global warming.
We need to handle this situation appropriately instead of being left to face the pending doom of Mother Nature. We can shift to better alternatives that would reduce plastic consumption.
Reducing the consumption of plastic
It is true that plastic as a material is widely useful and can be shaped into various vessels and packages widely used in both the industrial, local and commercial world. However, it is also true to say that there are other materials which can also serve us as well as plastic.
Plastic has been reversed-engineered and modified to come up with eco-friendly forms which will still get the job done. It will take centuries for it to decompose in the soil completely. However, scientists have been able to come up with mycelium-packaging through the study of mushrooms and other fungi.
They have been able to extract mycelium and after a few modifications in the laboratories it has proved to almost have similar properties as those seen in polystyrene (the main component in plastic). It can therefore be used as an alternative in packaging.
The beauty of mycelium is that it is readily biodegradable. It will not only decompose in the soil but will also serve as manure and enriching the soil with nutrients. In addition to that, mycelium-based packages would be very cheap to manufacture.
This is because mushrooms grow almost everywhere! All they need is a good moist surface and within a night you’ll have plenty of mushrooms. It is both cost-effective and eco-friendly.
Recently there have been several campaigns aimed at reducing the consumption of plastic. A very good example is the United Nations environment Clean Seas campaign which is making huge steps in combating marine litter.
Over 50 nations have partnered with the campaign in an effort to achieve a sustainable ecosystem. More nations should yield to such campaigns if not stage their own in order to tackle this plastic crisis.
The role of industries in reducing plastic consumption
Industries should embrace additive manufacturing. This is the building of objects using available raw materials to come up with a final product. Additive manufacturing reduces wastage and in this case lesser plastic would be used and disposed.
Industries should also be inclined to the use of more eco-friendly raw materials in the secondary production process. Research is being done on materials such as bio-based polythene which is easily recycled compared to its counterparts.
The consumers in reducing plastic consumption
There are several ways in which can you can tag along as a consumer in battling the packaging problem and plastic consumption.
Choose home compostable packaging and use your composter.
Use boxes made from cardboard or metal instead of using plastic containers. Metal is much easier to recycle compared to plastic
Buy food and supplies in bulk. This will definitely save the supermarkets from using a lot of plastic and singular packaging food stuff but in small quantities.
Shop at packaging and plastic free shops like Good For or Bulk Source.
Avoid the use of household plastic ware especially when there is an obvious alternative.
Never use plastic straws, opt for stainless, bamboo or paper straws.
Use a shampoo bar instead of shampoo in plastic containers.
Buy your cleaning products in home compostable bags like this product from Wendyl’s Green Goddess.
We need to take care of our planet if we want it to sustain us well. Plastic consumption has caused a huge mess over the past years and it is up to us to save our planet with constant and determined efforts. Slowly but surely we can make our planet last longer and achieve our green utopia.