Plastics, oh plastics, they’re everywhere, from the water bottle you just chugged to the plastic wrap on your leftovers! It’s hard to imagine a world without them, but the truth is, if we don’t start saying “no” to plastics, they’ll continue to do more harm than good.
First off, let’s talk about why plastics are such a problem. For starters, most plastics are not biodegradable, meaning they don’t break down naturally in the environment. Instead, they just sit there for hundreds of years, slowly breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, but never truly disappearing. This means that every piece of plastic that has ever been produced is still around in some form.
And unfortunately, a lot of that plastic ends up in our oceans. It’s estimated that around 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. And that plastic is causing a major problem for marine life. Sea turtles, whales, and birds are just a few of the animals that are affected by plastic pollution. They can mistake plastic for food, get entangled in plastic waste, or even ingest plastic particles, which can harm or kill them.
Another issue with plastics is that they release harmful chemicals when they break down or are burned. These chemicals can be harmful to human health and they can also contribute to air pollution.
So, now that we know the problem, let’s talk about what we can do about it. The first step is to reduce our use of plastics. And the good news is that this is something that we can all do. Here are a few simple ways to start:
Bring your own reusable bags, water bottles, and containers
Instead of grabbing a new plastic bag every time you go shopping or a new water bottle every time you’re thirsty, bring your own reusable versions. Not only will you be reducing your use of plastics, but you’ll also save money in the long run.
Say no to straws!
The next time you’re out at a restaurant or coffee shop and they ask if you want a straw, say no. Straws are one of the most common items found in ocean plastic pollution, and many places are now offering paper or metal straws as an alternative or even promoting “strawless” options. By saying no to a plastic straw, you can make a small but meaningful impact on plastic pollution.
Many products are now available with minimal or even zero packaging, such as bulk bins for food items or products with refillable containers. By choosing these options, you can reduce your use of plastic packaging and make more sustainable choices.
While it’s important to reduce our use of plastics, it’s also important to properly dispose of the plastics that we do use. Make sure to properly recycle plastics, and if there’s no recycling program available in your area, research alternative options such as TerraCycle or see if any local organization is collecting plastics for recycling.
And moreover, support policies that aim to reduce plastic use. Many cities and countries are now implementing plastic bag bans and fees, as well as regulations on single-use plastics such as straws and cutlery. UAE will be imposing a blanket ban on single-use of plastic bags effective from next year (2024). Support these policies and advocate for more to be implemented in your area.
Saying no to plastics may seem like a small change, but if we all start making small changes, it can lead to a big impact. Remember, reducing our use of plastics is not just about protecting the environment, it’s also about protecting our own health and the health of the animals and communities that are affected by plastic pollution. Let’s all make an effort to say no to plastics and make more sustainable choices.