10 Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste
Most plastic materials never completely degrade; they remain in our environment, slowly being broken up into smaller and smaller pieces, and whilst recycling programmes have been put in place across developed countries, it is thought that just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, with 40% ending up in landfill and over 30% in the environment. The rest is burnt, creating energy but also consuming more fossil fuels in order to manufacture new plastic materials that are forever demanded by our economies.
In the developing world, this explosion in demand for cheap and easily disposable products has grown faster than the ability to deal with the huge amount of plastic waste generated in these booming consumer societies. In fact, just 5 countries are responsible for over half the total amount of waste in our oceans - China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Over 80% of the plastic waste in our oceans actually originates on land and three quarters of that comes from uncollected waste or litter. This ‘plastic leakage’ results in 8 million metric tons of plastic materials entering our oceans every year. Today the amount of plastic waste in our oceans has reached a critical level - plastic waste has been found in the deepest parts of the oceans, on remote beaches far from sources of pollution and in vast, diffuse gyres made up of trillions of plastic particles. Unless we tackle the source of this plastic ’smog’, it is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish by weight in our oceans.
What are the main culprits?
The B.A.N. list 2.0 released by the 5 Gyres organisation looks at how often different types of plastic pollution were found in the marine or coastal environments the USA, and whilst the results may not be directly applicable to the developing world, this list serves as an extremely useful guide to identifying the different types of visible waste - a hit list of the worst plastic offenders in our marine environment.
- Food wrappers - 18.6%
- Bottle caps - 16.7%
- Beverage bottles - 12.0%
- Bags - 9.4%
- Straws and stirrers - 7.5%
- Lids - 5.1%
- Utensils - 4.9%
- Cigarette butts - 3.2%
- Take out containers, foam - 3.2%
- Take out containers, plastic - 3.0%
So what can I do?
The best way to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering our oceans is to simply cut it off at the source and reduce the amount that is actually used in the first place. As well as reducing waste, this has the added benefit of reducing the consumption of the fossil fuels used to create plastics in the first place. As consumers, we can choose to buy products without packaging, carry our own water bottle, refuse straws and use our own reusable shopping bags - everyday acts that will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste you are responsible for.
MAKE A CHANGE
At ZuBlu, we believe everyone can make a difference. Consumers can make simple, everyday choices that will significantly reduce the amount of plastic we use every day. And as travellers and diving tourists, we can act as ambassadors for a plastic-free future, helping to spread awareness of the problems faced by our oceans and leading the way towards a better future for the marine environment.
As part of our commitment to conservation and the environment, we will be leading an online Plastic Detox with ClearOceans in the build up to the 2018 World Ocean day on 09/06/2018.
Updated: 9th June 2018 - A huge thanks to Sam Tyers from ClearOceans and to everyone that joined in with the Plastic Detox! Together, we can make a difference! #saynotoplastic