Our plastic consumption is staggering. Much of the plastic we use every day is designed to be used once and thrown away. Plastic is hidden all around us in things we would never think of, like tea bags, clothes, stickers on fruit, and wet wipes. To address the problem, at Rajapack, the leading packaging supplier in Europe, we took a look at how long it takes certain plastics to break down, and the results were surprising.
But, all is not lost! There are simple changes you can make every day to reduce your plastic waste. If everybody took the time to think about the environmental impact of their choices we could really make a difference. Below you’ll find 5 easy changes you can make to help conquer the problem of plastic.
1. Switch to paper straws
A plastic straw can take 200 years to biodegrade. Imagine if Queen Victoria had plastic straws at her coronation? A few would probably be on display in a museum now, the rest would still be hanging around in landfills and the ocean adding to the growing mass of plastic waste. However, if the Queen had used paper straws they probably wouldn’t have lasted the weekend – paper straws take a matter of days to biodegrade.
2. Grab a reusable cup to-go
Polystyrene foam cups might be handy for grabbing a coffee, but they’re a nightmare for the environment. Made from plastic, polystyrene foam will never biodegrade. If dinosaurs used polystyrene foam cups as we do, we’d be finding them alongside dino fossils we dig up. A better alternative is to treat yourself to a reusable cup, these are pretty stylish – more so than a plain polystyrene cup – and very good value. Most coffee shops give you a discount on your drink if you’re using your own reusable cup.
3. Read up on your recyclables
It’s so easy to feel like your making a difference by having a separate bin in your kitchen for recycling. In a lot of places, you can throw all the recycling in the same bag and not have to worry about it. But, not everything you assume is recyclable actually is and how often do you really take the time to carefully check before you throw that empty ready meal tray in there? By not taking the time to look for the “recyclable” symbol on your rubbish you could be doing more harm than good. Was that ready meal tray black? A lot of them are coloured black to make the food seem more appealing, but this colouring process actually makes the whole tray non-recyclable. You also should be washing out your tins and packets of any food scraps before throwing them away. And never throw out greasy pizza boxes! These are not recyclable due to the grease and can contaminate whole batches of recycling, meaning it gets diverted straight to landfill.
4. Be picky about packaging
We love to order online. And with our passion for purchasing comes a whole heap of packaging. We want our new acquisitions to reach us in perfect condition and are quick to complain if they don’t. Which means packaging materials now make up the largest market for plastic and makes up almost half of global plastic waste. This just won’t do, so new innovations are hitting the market all the time. Eco Flo, which you can buy from Rajapack, is one of those solutions. And the company offer a whole host of eco-friendly packaging options to, hopefully, help reduce our reliance on plastics and make our world a cleaner place to live.