Here are 6 easy ways you can say no to single-use plastic in your daily life.
By Siti Rohani
Our dependence on plastic is causing a lot of harm to the environment. Not only do they pile up in landfills, they also end up in the ocean where they hurt marine animals – some get tangled up in the waste while others die after ingesting too much plastic mistaken for food.
Here are some sobering facts and figures:
According to a 2015 estimate by a University of Georgia professor, between 5.3 million and 14 million tons of unrecycled plastic a year end up in the ocean from coastal regions alone.
People around the world throw roughly 4,000,000 tons of trash a day – 12.8 per cent of which is plastic.
A study released last year by a team of researchers found that around 9 billion tons of plastic have been made since the 1950s and only 9 per cent end up being recycled.
At the current rate of pollution, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Last December, some 193 countries signed a United Nations resolution to get rid of plastic pollution in the ocean – they will start monitoring the amount of plastic waste they produce.
It’s time we do the same as consumers.
Follow these six simple tips to start reducing your reliance on single-use plastic today.
1. Bring your own reusable bag
Always bring a reusable bag for your grocery shopping so you won’t pick up extra plastic bags at the supermarket.
2. Reuse your plastic bags
If you do end up with some plastic bags, make sure you use them more than once.
For example, you can line the bins with these bags instead of buying bin liners.
3. Say no to plastic straws
Tell the server at the café or restaurant that you don’t need a straw – there’s nothing wrong with drinking from the cup.
If you absolutely need a straw, buy a reusable one made of stainless steel.
To find out how much damage a single straw can cause to marine animals, watch this video. Beware, though, the footage is of an animal in distress.
4. Use a reusable water bottle
Bring a reusable plastic, glass or stainless steel bottle with you when you leave home. You’ll save the environment and some money by not buying bottled water at the shops.
For more information on this important topic, check out Wendy Lipscomb’s fantastic and informative site It’s a Fish Thing. Every little bit helps!
5. Pass on disposable cutlery
We’re willing to bet you have a drawer full of plastic forks and spoons and wooden chopsticks at home.
When buying takeout, let the servers know that you don’t need cutlery, especially if you’ll be eating at home.
Foodpanda, the food delivery service, has an option for customers to say no to disposable cutlery when they make an order.
The service is being trialled in Singapore before being rolled out to other countries where they operate.
6. Use a reusable food container
Instead of packing a sandwich in a new zipper bag every day, use a container that you can wash and reuse.