Ways to Reduce Domestic Plastic Usage

Plastic has become a global issue and it is now a serious problem for the planet. Plastic products have achieved real success with their outstanding qualities such as ease of shaping, low cost, mechanical resistance, an ideal material for packaging, etc. The invasion of plastic is a disaster. It has become a constant element in our day-to-day lives with product packaging, textiles, mobile phones, cosmetic ingredients, and so many other things. According to the LOOP (Life out of Plastic), the average useful life of single-use plastic is 12 – 15 minutes, but it takes about 500 years to disappear from the Earth. Therefore, plastic pollution occurs due to the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment. They are extremely dangerous to birds, aquatic species, turtles, and even humans.

A belly full with Plastics of a dead bird

A dead bird found with a belly full of plastic | Photo By: Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Plastic waste can be categorized as primary plastic; cigarette buds, bottles, bottle caps, polythene bags, food wrappers, household waste, etc, and secondary plastic is the outcome of degraded primary plastics (called as Micro Plastics). Poorly recycled and dumped plastic wastes taken to local waterways by wind, rain, floods, and eventually ending up in the ocean. Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic is washed into the ocean, and the dumped plastics in the landfills leak chemicals into the soil and releasing toxic air into the atmosphere. Slowly, the microplastics are digested in to the bodies of aquatic species and eventually accumulate to the human body through food chain of marine ecosystem and bioaccumulation.

Plastic wastes ended up in the ocean

Marine litter flowing in the ocean | Photo By: Rich Carey / Shutterstock

Abandoning the use of plastic is now becoming a difficult task, but people can take the necessary actions to reduce their plastic consumption. 3R concept; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is the best practice to prevent plastic pollution as the significant first step that people need to change their attitudes and habits to reduce plastic consumption.

  • Reduce – In order to effectively reduce plastic usage in our day-to-day lives, it is necessary to find better alternatives to plastics and limit plastic usage when necessary
  • Reuse – Plastic can cause pollution when it is poorly managed, but it has many advantages such as resistance and durability. Therefore, most plastics can be reused for different purposes before being discarded
  • Recycle – In order to reduce the dumped or washed up plastics, they must be recycled by collecting plastic waste and reprocessing them into new products without re-producing plastics
  • Educate – It is important to increase public awareness about the environmental crisis and the impact of plastics on it. It is vital to change people’s behavior patterns and attitudes towards environmental issues.

The waste hierarchy and 3'R' concept

The waste hierarchy and the '3R' concept | Photo By: www.open.edu

However, people have the power to change the way plastic products are consumed and change the situation created by plastic. Therefore, it is important to take the necessary actions today without postponing to future.  

Some tips to reduce domestic plastic consumption;

  • Avoid Single-use plastics such as straws, water bottles, coffee cups, plates, and cutlery
  • Keep remembering to take reusable bags (like cloth, string, or wicker bags) when shopping
  • Try to buy more bulk foods to avoid the use of packaged products from supermarkets
  • Replace your plastic lunch box with a glass or steel container and it will be healthy as well
  • Avoid using cosmetics that made from micro-plastics and try to buy biodegradable, natural products as it is good for the skin as well
  • Before throwing away plastic wastes, make sure to put it into the right container
  • Buy reusable water bottles or containers and use for several times, instead of throwing them away from single-use
  • Buy glass or cardboard products over plastic or polythene whenever possible
  • Buy metal or bamboo reusable straws, plates and cutlery and pack it alongside for sustainable eating
  • Make sure to aware the people around you (family, friends, workers) of the importance of reducing the plastic consumption

Simple ways to reduce plastic waste

Simple ways to reduce plastic usage | Photo By: Treehugger / Hilary Allison

Banning of single-use plastic will not only reduce plastic pollution but also reduce the demand for plastic products and the impact on carbon footprint. Then it will force companies to innovate and rethink their product designs, and finding sustainable materials. However, minimizing the use of plastic and polythene is the most effective way to avoid the waste piles on the land, and frequently recycling more plastic reduces its footprint. Then, this is the best time to invest in some quality products, prioritizing sustainability over convenience and considering long-term impacts. As consumers, people have the responsibility to change their consumer behaviors to reduce their plastic waste and change their mindset to live sustainably.  

References;

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/single-use-plastics-101

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/reduce-reuse-recycle-most-all-reduce

https://www.wri.org/insights/4-ways-reduce-plastic-pollution