Updated: Apr 14, 2019
You've probably seen a lot about plastic in the media recently and although you would of heard a few conversations as to why it is a problem there are actually multiple reasons, such as the effect on animals, the effect on the environment and the ingestion of tiny plastic pieces in our food.
Plastic is made by bonding oil and gas molecules together to make monomers. The monomers are bonded into long polymer chains which makes plastic. This makes small plastic pellets that are then sold to factories where objects such as plastic bottles are made. But what happens to plastic after you've used it and thrown it away? Well there are multiple fates for plastic objects.
The most obvious one for most people is that they end up in landfills. The problems here are this mean landfills are getting bigger every day, they can take 1000 years to decompose and the eco-systems around the landfill are poisoned when the rain absorbs the water-soluble compounds, which move through the ground and into streams harming the wildlife nearby.
Another possible fate is the one you would have heard about the most. Plastic ending up in the ocean. This usually happens when plastic ends up in rivers and streams which leads in to the ocean. 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die every year due to plastic in the ocean. They think that the plastic is food, ingest it and then their bodies think they're full so they eventually starve. That is a lot of unnecessary death. Did you know there are currently an estimate of 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating around in ocean. Most of them are only small confetti sized pieces which may make it sound slightly better but think about it this way... A lot of marine life also consume plastic drifting around in the ocean which means those small pieces of plastic make their way up the food chain, eventually ending up in your fish and chips. Eww!
Recycling is another possible fate for plastic waste but its not as good as it seems. Most plastics can't be recycled more than once or twice. So what happens to it after it has been recycled? It ends with a choice of landfill or ocean.
A possible solution for the plastic crisis is bio-degradable plastic which sounds great but there are issues with this too. It takes a temperature of 50 degrees centigrade to start the bio-degrading process. Where is it not 50 degrees? The ocean. And they sink because they are non buoyant which means they won't be exposed to UV to break down.
But there are ways to help! Although you may not be ready to stop using plastic all together cutting down will help! Here are some helpful tips on how to cut down on plastic easily:
1) Be prepared! By carrying a shopping bag, reusable bottle, thermos, reusable straw, metal cutlery and handkerchief in your bag you'll not only save money, you'll also help the environment!
2) Choose cardboard, glass or metal packaging instead of plastic. These materials are either reusable or easily biodegradable.
3) For new mums and dads: try swapping from disposable nappies to reusable ones. I know this is a hard one for a busy parent but even if you only use the reusable ones at home you're reducing your plastic usage.
4) For ladies: Think of other feminine products such as plastic free tampons/ sanitary towels, reusable towels, diva cups and so on...
5) Swap from disposable razors to one that allows you to just swap the blade
6) Try to use reusable food storage boxes instead of disposable plastic bags
At the Kentish Soap Company we have taken the pledge to eradicate all plastic from our packaging by the end of the year so keep an eye out for our new eco-friendly packaging coming soon!
Good luck on your plastic free ventures!