Blog | 6th Nov, 2013

Fighting for breath in a flood of plastic

According to our friends at Earth Day Network, over 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year for bags, bottles and nearly every other consumer commodity you can conceive.

Do you guess plastic production is increasing or slowing down? Correct! There was more plastic produced in the last 10 years than in the entire 20th century.

Plastic is a human obsession, and for good reason: plastic is cheap to produce, light to carry and it lasts practically forever.  And that, of course, is the problem. No matter how much we re-use and recycle, it stays with us for decades or centuries, and millions of new plastic tonnes pour into the environment every year.

In our part of the world it’s a somewhat hidden obsession. When we finish with it we tend to throw it “away” – that is, it is taken somewhere by someone and we can stop seeing, thinking and worrying about it. And we also work hard to clean up litter, so we avoid unpleasant reminders of the rising plastic flood.

In developing countries you’ll notice a lot more plastic in the streets , parks, and waterways – not because there’s more plastic, but because there’s less concentrated effort to take it somewhere else when it’s finished with.

The particular trouble with plastic bags and bottles is that they are designed to be used once then thrown “away”. These two items are not the only plastics pollution choking oceans and landfills, but they are hugely numerous due to their one-use-ability.

There were at least three reports in 2013 of whales dying on beaches in Europe and America with their guts full of plastic. Millions of birds and smaller mammals die annually from swallowing plastic.

So there are powerful reasons to embark on a no more plastic crusade. You know the thinking – when we stop consuming it “they” will stop producing it. That’s part of the answer anyway. Here are some ideas to make a start on consuming less plastic.

  • Say no to plastic bags – use and reuse a reusable bag made of natural fibres.
  • Carry your own water bottle and fill it from a Melbourne tap connected to a delicious river.
  • Keep a keep cup and steer clear of disposables. Wait – keep cups are plastic! Ok, make sure you use it 3,650 times, then recycle it if it ever breaks. Or find a ceramic one – they’re out there too.
  • Shun all items designed to be used once and thrown away.
  • Make up a catering kit to replace plastic crockery and cuttlefish. Yep, you’ll have to wash up.
  • Use bamboo toothbrushes.
  • Use pencils (for writing, not cleaning your teeth).
  • Refill your bottles of detergent and soaps.