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Our Plastic Addiction: The Importance of Recycling and Plastic Use Reduction

Our addiction to plastic is destroying marine life and killing fish

Rubbish is a part of all of our lives. Like it or not, we create waste on a daily basis, and even though we are more aware of the environmental cost of our waste than ever, we are still, on the whole, pretty good at ignoring it. Our methods of waste management are becoming more conscious and more sophisticated every year, but for a real environmental change, we all need to be a little better when it comes to dealing with our day-to-day domestic waste.

Here at Expert Skip Hire, we are striving to make the world a little cleaner and a little more aware of the impact that our rubbish has on the planet. But, we can’t do it alone; we need you to help us build a community that makes better choices, through awareness, new habits and education.

The Plastic Problem

If you have picked up a newspaper, turned on the T.V or listened to David Attenborough speak recently, then the likelihood is that you know plastic is becoming a bit of a problem.

The thing is, plastic is wonderful stuff! It has been around for over 100 years now, and we can’t get enough of it. It is versatile, durable, cheap and it can be used for pretty much anything. We make objects as small and as pedestrian as bottles and credit cards with it, and we have built mammoth machines of transportation and agriculture with it. Plastic is everywhere, and there is no easy way of going back… and we don’t necessarily have to.

The biggest problem we have is with disposable products. Plastic bags, bottles, packaging and coffee cups, although not designed to last, actually last a very long time indeed. They are not biodegradable, so, unless recycled and appropriately processed, they simply end up out in the world doing nothing more than clogging up the planet with rubbish and causing all kinds of issues.

We have all seen an image of an animal caught up in a bit of packaging, a beach heaving with rubbish at low tide or an overfilled waste management site; our plastic problem is there for all to see.

Turtle stranded on a beach

Some figures published in 2015 show that the ocean as a whole has amassed over eight million tonnes of plastic; from gutters and window panes to milk cartons and microplastics (found in clothing, cosmetics and as waste from various industrial processes), it is all there. Don’t believe it? Check out this BBC article from December 2017: Seven Charts That Explain the Plastic Pollution Problem

Microplastics are not only manufactured for specific use, but they are also a result of the fact that plastic is indestructible; it can get smaller and smaller but will never fully disappear. Because of this, it is in pretty much everything; the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe.

So, plastic is a problem. It is a problem that isn’t going anywhere fast, and it certainly won’t go away if we continue to ignore it. But never fear, effecting change might not be as hard as you think; a few habitual tweaks from all of us could make a huge dent in the issue.

How Does Recycling Help?

From roads to bricks, there are hundreds of companies all over the world working to eradicate the problem posed by the current accumulation of waste plastic across the globe. You can read about some of those innovations right here 10 Fantastic Innovations in The War on Plastic.

Of course, the average person is not going to be able to solve this conundrum, but we can assist by not adding more rubbish to the international trash pile!

Recycling ensures two things:

  1. That waste plastic doesn’t end up strewn across our land or floating about in our oceans, but instead ends up in an appropriate recycling facility, ready to be processed and repurposed.

  2. A significant reduction in the manufacture of new plastic.

Working together and supporting the efforts of others is essential to ridding the planet of waste plastic. By recycling we validate the innovation of those working to eliminate the current waste problem and ensure that they are not fighting a losing battle!

Currently only 14% of all plastics are recycled. Considering the many systems put in place to make it easier for us to recycle, systems which most of us are aware of and have access too, that is not a great percentage. All it takes, for many of us, is to put our bottles and packages in a different bin to make a difference. You could even repurpose plastic in your own homes, instead of chucking it out. Take these great ideas for the reuse of plastic bottles, for instance - 23 Creative Ways to Reuse Old Plastic

How Does Plastic Use Reduction Help?

It is a significant upheaval to remove all use of plastic from your life; like we said, it’s pretty much everywhere. But it is not quite so tricky to reduce, or even stop, the use of so called ‘single-use products’.

These are pretty self-explanatory; products you only use once. Plastics created for convenience and not longevity. It doesn’t take too much adjustment to bring your own shopping bags to the supermarket instead of grabbing a load of fresh ones at the till, or to refill your water bottle at a tap instead of buying a brand new one. If we all did this, not only would the accumulation of waste plastic slow down, but demand for these kinds of products would decrease and eventually, hopefully, cease to be necessary.

How Can We Be Better at Recycling and Reducing Plastic Usage?

There are many ways we can be better at managing our waste disposal. No doubt you can innovate your own rules and methods for doing this. But, to help you along, here are a few ideas about how to reduce your plastic usage day-to-day.

  1. Don’t Buy Water. Water is free. Once you have bought one bottle, you have an acceptable container to use. All it takes is a little bit more foresight as to when you might need some water on you… just a case of adopting a new habit! However, disposable bottles do release chemicals over time, so you might want to take it to the next level and…

  1. Reusable Containers. The market is starting to fill up with awesome, practical and fashionable solutions to carrying around food and liquids. Invest in some! Not only is it better for the planet, but you will be saving money as well. Check out some of the fanciest bottles on the market this year:

  1. Cook More. If you get organised and start making your own lunch, or maybe getting take away food a little less, you will also be purchasing less disposable plastic, and create less rubbish.

  1. Dispose Responsibly. Just take another second to consider which bin you are putting your rubbish in. If it is a bigger item, or an item you are unsure of how to dispose of, take the time to do a little research, or take a trip to the dump and make sure your waste ends up in the right place. If you're in Sussex, here are a few pointers about how to deal with rubbish and recycling in our local area. East Sussex: Rubbish and Recycling Information and East Sussex: Dumps and Recycling Sites 

Make a little change to your waste disposal habits and help us to rid the planet of waste plastic, one bottle at a time!

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