Plastic has replaced many traditional materials since World War II, due to low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, and imperviousness to water. Yearly production has grown from 2 million metric tons of plastic in 1950 to 380 million metric tons in 2015. The sad news is that a good amount of those plastics are disposable.
We have succumbed to the convenience of disposable plastic items. The global sales of bottled drinks increased in double digits year-on-year. On average, people finishes a plastic bottled drink in 30 minutes, while it takes more than 450 years for the bottle to degrade into small piece which are likely to end up in a land dumb or in the ocean (less than 10% of plastics we have ever produced are recycled). Research and reports have provided data about the damage of plastic to the marine life, as well as to human life because they enter our body through the food chain.
A lot of initiatives across different countries have started to raise awareness of this issue to the public. One of which is the campaign named “Plastic Free July”, which encourages people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic in the month. It was started in Western Australia in 2011 and has gained huge support worldwide since then.
Here we are in another year of Plastic Free July. What have you pledged? If you have not, start with an item – one that you think is easiest for you to do without. Most of interns at Urban Spring have joined the team’s challenge and have pledged not to use single-use plastic straw, lunch container or bag. Some have been diligently bringing our own glass or stainless steel straws for cold drinks when we go for lunch at local eateries while others substitute disposable lunch packaging with our own glass containers.
Living in a world that encourages consumerism, some people get excited about buying eco-friendly product in support of the green movement. This environmentally conscious thought is encouraging but it is more effective if we all adopt an attitude to reduce consumption and be creative in re-using existing products. One can try to find alternatives in their own home before buying them in store.
We are now in the third week of Plastic Free July. There were times that we forgot to bring our re-usable straw or forgot to bring our reusable shopping bag before we left home. Don’t be discouraged and give up. The most important thing is that we keep trying. Let’s change our habit one step at a time.
If you would like more information about the campaign and understand the scale of the problem, visit the campaign’s website and the article “The world’s plastic problem, in two charts“. Also check out the blog, “Treading My Own Path“ written by Lindsay Miles. Lindsay signed up the campaign in 2012 and has pursued a plastic-free life since. The inspiring blog provides lots of tips about how to eliminate single-use plastic.