It will come as no surprise to anyone that we are experiencing a global plastic waste crisis of massive proportions. News channels, social media, billboards, and worldwide movements are constantly warning us of the huge toll that plastic waste is taking on our beleaguered planet.
Sometimes, though, we can become deaf to the repeated cries to reduce our personal plastic use. It’s just one more thing that we have to worry about. Something else that will make us swim against the tide and do things outside of how they’ve always been done.
However, if you’re asking the question, “How do I stop using single use plastic?” then we’re very much on the same page.
We’d like to highlight some of the simple ways that each of us can make a difference in the fight against plastic pollution.
The Problem with Plastic
Firstly, we have to ask if the plastic problem is actually such a big deal. Or are we being distracted from bigger issues within politics and corruption to focus on this matter?
Plastic Oceans offers up some sobering statistics. “We are producing over 380 million tons of plastic every year, and some reports indicate that up to 50% of that is for single-use purposes – utilized for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. It’s estimated that more than 10 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.”
They add, “Annually, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.”
“Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.”
You may also be aware of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP)? “The GPGP covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometres, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France.”
This expanse of waste is wreaking havoc on marine life, blocking sunlight from reaching the algae and plankton in the oceans and affecting the entire food chain. It’s a major concern.
So yes, the problem is very real, but all is not lost.
Some organisations such as Plastic Oceans mentioned above are aiming to change the world’s attitude toward plastic in one generation.
How Can I Stop Using Single Use Plastics?
Back to our original question then, what can we do as an individual to stem the disturbing tide of single use plastics?
When we realise that this problem can only be solved by a global effort, where each person makes small changes to their lifestyle, then we see how our own contribution will help.
- Stop using plastic straws. Many restaurants now offer biodegradable straws which is a great alternative. If they don’t have, then rather go without. Although many people have taken to carrying their own glass or metal straw with them which is another way to beat the system.
- Make use of reusable shopping bags. Did you know that a plastic shopping bag can take 1,000 years to break down? Whilst there has been a definite move by chain stores towards using more eco-friendly bags, the best option is one you don’t throw away. It takes a little while to create the new habit of ensuring that you always have your shopping bags in the car, so you’re not caught shorthanded at the till.
- Buy in bulk. If you have the option to buy products like cereal, rice, pasta, or other consumables from bulk bins, that’s a great way to save on packaging. Take along your refillable container and voila – no plastics.
- Avoid frozen foods. These generally come packaged in plastic so if you can avoid them, do. (It’s healthier to eat fresh food anyway, so there’s that.)
- Pack yours and your children’s lunches in reusable containers as opposed to plastic wrap or sandwich bags.
- Use cloth nappies. Billions of pounds of disposable nappies are dumped in landfills every year. Yes, they’re convenient and fit in with today’s lifestyle. But they’re also not recyclable and are a huge contributor to plastic waste. If parents just considered cutting down on their use of disposable nappies, even by half, that would go a long way to easing the burden of waste.
- Avoid plasticware. When we go on picnics or away on holidays, we tend to grab a handful of Styrofoam plates and cups, and plastic cutlery for ease of use. Let’s not do that anymore. Why not rather invest in some lightweight metal cups, plates, and cutlery that can be washed and put away for outdoor use.
Obviously, this list is not exhaustive, but we do hope that it will set you on the right path to reducing your reliance on single use plastics.
What About Plastic Dental Waste?
Plastic never goes away, not really. It simply breaks down into smaller pieces and continues its trail of damage. These microplastics enter our food chain through bioaccumulation and have the potential to cause health related disruptions in us humans.
One issue that we feel strongly about is the prevalence of dental waste. Plastic toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss boxes, and mouthwash bottles all add to this growing problem.
Did you know that each year we throw away around 4.5 billion plastic toothbrushes, many of which find their way into waterways and oceans? Turtles and other marine life ingest these mistaking them as food.
If you’re still wondering how you can make the switch to green dental products, we have the solution.
Our team of dentists have made it their mission to create sustainable and eco-friendly dental products that do no harm to the planet.
As an example, we have a range of bamboo toothbrushes made from Moso Bamboo. We chose this particular material as it is a fast growing and sustainable plant, and one which is inedible to the local Panda population. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial and antifungal which makes it a healthy choice too.
The brushes themselves have medium bristles which have been designed by our dental team to be hard enough to be effective against plaque, yet soft enough not to damage teeth or gums.
At the end of its lifespan, the brush handle will gently decompose in the ground without emitting any harmful chemicals. We’ve even made the packaging compostable, we’re that serious about our mission.
Join the Revolution
Yes, the plastic crisis is a big deal, but there’s no need to throw up our hands in despair. Rather let’s all pull together to stop using plastic products and encourage our friends and family to do the same.
We are certain that, given the right information, most people will be motivated to do the right thing and to reduce their own plastic use.