According to a recent report, US scientists calculated that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been created in the last 65 years.
The main reason behind this massive problem is our over reliance on plastic disposables such as drinking straws, cutlery and packaging which tend to be used for very short periods of time before being discarded. So much so that over 70% of the total amount of plastic produced is now in waste streams, landfills and even the oceans – with eight million tonnes of plastic waste escaping to the oceans each year.
To make matters worse, some of these plastic trash are getting into the food chain as fish and other marine animals ingest small polymer fragments.
While it may not be possible to eradicate plastic, we can cut down on our plastic consumption and in turn reduce plastic pollution. Here are four simple ways to do that.
1. Skip the straw
As harmless as they look, plastic straws are among the most common marine litter. At our recent beach cleanup, we picked up 2,341 pieces of plastic stirrers/straws, making it the number one marine litter collected. Not only are plastic straws polluting our beaches and oceans, they are also causing grievous harm to marine animals, such as sea turtles.
The solution? Drink directly from the cup or container where possible. If a straw is really needed, opt for a reusable straw made of metal or paper, which can be easily purchased from stores.
2. Use mugs, not paper cups
Do you know that paper cups are laminated with a water-resistant lining which makes them unrecyclable in Singapore? In fact, only 10% of the paper mills in Asia are able to process these lamination or wax linings, and none of them are in Singapore (source: Channel NewsAsia). So the next time you’re buying some takeaway coffee, pass your mug to the barista instead of using their regular disposable paper cup.
3. Reduce & reuse plastic bottles
Try to reduce your consumption of bottled beverages. Pack a reusable water bottle instead. If you do buy bottled beverages, try to give the empty bottles a new lease of life instead of trashing them, such as turning them into containers for your knick-knacks. Here are some great ideas:
Pack a bag (or two)
Going shopping? Instead of requesting for plastic bags, bring along reusable bags such as fabric totes. Not only are you reducing the number of plastic bags in landfills after just minutes of use, you are also reducing the likelihood of marine animals mistaking plastic bags for food, leading to their premature death. Recently, a dead whale in Norway was found with 30 plastic bags crammed inside its stomach.