About 500 billion plastic bags are used every year in the world, and about 8 million plastic garbage is found in water. Every minute, we buy about 1 million plastic bottles, and a high percentage of this likely ends up in the oceans, and about 8 million pieces of plastic garbage are found in our waterways. Because it takes several years for plastic to decompose, it can stay in the ocean indefinitely and kill marine life.
On the 3rd of July, the world celebrates International Plastic Bag Free Day. It aims to create awareness about the negative effects of plastic on the environment and marine life, and on this day, in particular, everyone is encouraged to avoid plastic bags or any plastic-made products. You can also consider joining a beach cleanup. Some plastic products you may find on the beach include food containers, plastic cups, balloons, cutlery, plastic bags, cotton buds and lolly wrappers.
How Plastic Ends up in the Oceans
You may think it's okay to throw away plastic so long as you don't live near the coast. Many people are not aware that the plastic they throw away is likely to end up in the oceans and harm marine life. When they find their way into the sea, they decompose slowly and damage sea life.
Plastic that is not properly disposed of often ends up in the ocean. 85% of soft plastics from bags and packaging ends up in landfill in Australia, and because they are lightweight, they are often blown away and end up in the oceans or rivers. When you throw plastic in the streets, rainwater could carry them into the ocean or rivers too. Homeowners who are not mindful of what they throw down the drain contribute to the plastic found in the ocean. To help the environment and marine life, it's imperative that we are aware of how damaging plastic is and what we can do to minimise or completely eliminate the use of plastic.
Ways to Reduce Plastic Use
Below are some things you can do to minimise or eliminate the use of plastic:
1. Use paper or metal straws. Millions of plastic straws are being used every day, and it isn't easy to recycle them. Because they are so lightweight, they are easily carried away and could end up in the ocean and stuck up a poor turtle's nose. If you visit a restaurant or cafe that serves plastic straws, simply refuse it and find alternative ways of sipping your drink.
2. Don't buy plastic water bottles. As plastic bottles are often discarded, it's always best to bring your own reusable water bottle with you so you can easily refill it instead of buying a disposable plastic one.
3. When shopping, bring your own bags for your groceries. Fortunately, most big supermarket chains and grocery shops today have fazed out plastic and encourage customers to use paper bags or reusable bags anyway. When shopping for vegetables avoid pre-wrapped and skip the plastic bag. Avoid buying food storage made with plastic. Instead, buy stainless steel or glass food containers and use reusable bags for your groceries.
4. If you're traveling or eating at a take-away restaurant, consider bringing your own cutlery so you won't have to use a plastic spoon or fork. Carry tote bags for souvenir shopping!
5. Buy glass or wood products instead of those made with plastic. If you're shopping for personal care, consider getting large sizes to avoid buying a large number of products made with plastic.
6. Are you creative? Why not recycle plastic at home? You can DIY garden using plastic bottles or use them as pen holders for your children. Create awareness about reducing plastic and encourage your children to say no to them.
7. In the kitchen, switch to biodegradable bin liners and start a compost. In Australia, 1/3 of household waste is food waste, such as vegetable peelings and meal left overs. When food rots in landfill it lets off methane, which is 25 times more potent than the C02 produced by cars. If 1% of the population composted food scraps instead of throwing them in the bin, it would save 45 million kgs of CO2. Besides, discarding of your organic waste in a home compost is a great way to fertilise your garden or pot plants.
8. Are you throwing a party? Avoid buying plastic cups and cutlery. Instead, use glass or paper cups and plates.
Benefits of Recycling and Reducing Plastic
Australia uses over 10 million plastic bags a day – plastic bags are causing huge problems in our oceans. Plastic makes up about 10% of the waste we generate, and 50% of plastic being used can only be used once. Because they can take up to 500 years to decompose, it's best to either refuse, reuse or recycle plastic.
You Can Save Money
Refilling your water bottle is definitely more cost-effective than buying plastic water bottles every day. You can save money by using your own cutlery and glass cups over buying plastic cutlery and plastic cups. If you're creative, you can create a lot of things out of plastic; you won't have to buy a lot of stuff.
You Can Protect Marine Life
The biggest benefit would be protecting sea life and the environment. Remember that about 100 different species of sea life die every year from plastic alone. You can help reduce this number by avoiding plastic.
What Else You Can Do to Help the Environment and the Ocean
Although there is a designated day of the year to avoid plastic, everyone is still encouraged to reduce plastic use as much as possible all year round. You may not see results right away, but it can really help the environment and save marine life over time. Also, make it your goal to only buy environmentally-friendly products as much as possible.
In light of this, we created People4Ocean Sun Care, a 100% Australian-made sun care brand that doesn't have any synthetic chemicals. It's safe to use in the ocean as it's plant-based. It's non-toxic, making it safe for pregnant women and children. For convenience and safety reasons, we do not package our sunscreens in glass or aluminium. Instead, our tubes contain a majority of either sugarcane bio-resin or post-consumer recycled polyethylene PE. We also choose tube size 100 mL or larger, as anything smaller does not get recycled in Australia. Finally, we are now accepting your empty tubes to be fully recycled and reused by our tube manufacturer in New South Wales. Let's close that loop!
Did we mention that our sunscreens were voted #1 in the 2020 Australian Non Toxic Awards, for their incredible standards in safety, sustainability and ethics? Feel free to shop or let us know if you have questions.