Plastic waste is an obvious and ongoing concern for our planet.
In fact, around 5.5 billion plastic bottles are being dumped in UK landfills each year - a scroll-stopping figure that doesn’t even account for all other single-use plastics that are discarded daily.
National Geographic states that 91% of the world’s plastic isn’t recycled, which results in tons of non-biodegradable waste finding its way into our oceans and ecosystems. Due to consumer and activist pressure, many businesses are having to change the way they operate. For example, In 2019, Morrisons supermarket introduced plastic-free fruit and vegetable areas in almost every store, which allows customers to choose from a wider variety of products and at the same time have the option to make more environmentally conscious decisions.
The issues surrounding plastic waste may appear not to affect us directly, but the damage is increasing for our planet. A jaw-dropping 381 million tonnes of global plastic waste enters our landfills each year, a statistic that is due to double by 2034 based on our current rate of consumption.
Some of the problems related to single-use plastic waste can be reversed if we all play our part, whether you’re an individual making more eco-friendly choices in your daily life or a business owner looking at reducing the amount of plastic you use in your processes.
We can all contribute to fight/to solve the plastic pollution crisis if we work together. By making small changes to our daily usage of plastic, we can make a positive impact. There’s no doubt that going completely plastic-free would be a big challenge; after all, we can only buy what the shops present to us, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile trying. However, there’s a range of products available to consumers that can be purchased to help them play their part in eliminating single-use plastic.
Plastic is well known to be a non-biodegradable substance, and studies have shown that it could take up to 500 years for it to break down completely. Research carried out by the WWF shows that toothbrushes and nappies are amongst the items that take the longest to breakdown – but even when they do breakdown, what does that leave us with…microplastics.
During this time, the microplastics find their way into the water we drink and even the food we eat. This issue does not just affect humans; Condor Ferries state that 100 million wild animals are killed each year from plastic pollution, including sea turtles, whales and sea birds. However, several world-renowned brands are making pledges to help tackle this problem. McDonald’s, for example, has committed to making 100% of its packaging from sustainable or recycled sources by 2025.
There are so many ways you can reduce your plastic consumption and make a small positive impact on our environment, and if everyone did the same, we would see a big change.
Here are some of the easiest ways you can reduce your use of plastic and some great starting points in terms of going plastic-free.
Go BPA free
Scientists have found that using plastic bottles regularly can have adverse effects on the body. By studying animals, scientists have found that BPA affects the fetal glands, neonatal prostate glands and breast tissue. Using products that contain toxins, such as BPA (Bisphenol A), can contribute to eroded teeth, asthma and breast cancer when consumed in high amounts.
A study carried out by Scientific American found that 93% of Americans carry BPA in their bodies, which is a result of the body not breaking down the toxins fully. Scientist, Richard Stahlhut, found that the body breaks down the toxins between four and nine hours after being exposed to them. After this period, the body is finished digesting, meaning that the toxins remain in our bodies.
These findings have helped BPA free products be introduced into the market. These items include food containers, spray bottles and plastic bottles. In addition, there is a wide range of health benefits when making the switch to BPA-free products, such as glass or stainless steel, including a decrease in the risk of heart disease and feeling of depression.
Why not opt for glass containers for cereals and other dried foods instead of plastic containers, better for your health and the planet.
Reduce your waste output
Humans produce a massive amount of rubbish each year, with America being one of the biggest contributors to waste accounting for fifty-five percent of the world’s waste. This waste, when not managed properly, often makes its way into our oceans, with 150 million metric tons currently being washed around throughout the globe. The discarded plastics are not biodegradable so even though they will break down into smaller pieces they will never disappear completely.
The development of plastic has resulted in it taking years of exposure to the sun and the elements to break down when it enters the oceans. This has created multiple plastic islands, or great garbage patches, within our planet’s oceans that threaten wildlife and contribute to climate change. These islands are considerably large, with the biggest one being three times the size of France and they will only increase in size as the amount of plastic entering our oceans continues to rise.
Make smarter everyday choices that reduce your waste by opting to reuse and refill instead of buying single and limited use items over and over. A little sacrifice and good planning over convenience can make a big difference.
Go green and save yourself money
There is a plethora of products available to consumers that are eco-friendly and sourced from sustainable resources. These include bamboo toothbrushes, bottled cleaning products and wooden toilet brushes. These items offer a sustainable replacement for the equivalent plastic items that many of us use daily.
Making the switch from plastic to eco-friendly may cost you more upfront but save you money in the long term. For example, purchasing a reusable bottle such as Chilly’s will save you money, compared to if you’re buying multi-packs of plastics bottles each week. Not only will this be more cost-effective in the future, but it can reduce the demand for these types of products to be mass-produced.
Help to save our wildlife and ourselves
Wildlife is one of the worst affected aspects when it comes to plastic waste. A staggering 8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year. As we’ve said many times before, it is us who create this waste through our ever-increasing hyper-consumption and a reliance on convenience. This waste is entering our oceans through rivers, human littering or being spread by the weather.
Once this plastic enters our ocean, it can take up to 500 years to break down. During this process, it’s broken down into smaller pieces called ‘microplastics’. By breaking down into smaller pieces, the plastic is more likely to fall deeper into the ocean and be mistaken for food by sea life, including, of course, fish, which we eat, therefore we consume the plastic in the fish.
An astonishing 1000 turtles die each year from consuming marine litter. Unfortunately, these creatures often mistake floating plastic bags as prey, and when eaten, it can potentially lead to fatal consequences. If this issue isn’t dealt with by the world’s governing bodies, Ellen MacArthur predicts that by 2050 there will be a ton of plastic for every ton of fish.
Choose brands who have made the switch from plastic to paperboard for their gift, loyalty and membership cards.
At Green Gift Cards, all our cards, whether a gift card, membership or loyalty card are made from paperboard – which comes from natural renewable and sustainable sources, making them biodegradable and fit for easy recycling. In part because of this, we have been awarded the coveted Plastic Free Trust Mark, making us unique in the card space.
We help businesses make the switch from using plastic cards to a truly environmentally friendly alternative that benefits them, their customers and does not harm the planet.
In the UK, the £7bn gift card industry generates vast numbers of single-use cards every year, of which a large proportion are still made of plastic. This equates to more waste than you may think. With over 200 million gift cards being spent each year, it is likely that more than 100 million plastic cards are still making their way into our landfills or incineration that gives off pollution because there is currently no easily accessible recycling system available for single and limited-use plastic cards.
If you’re interested in going plastic-free with your cards or just want to know more about our products and what makes them so compelling, please get in touch with us today, call on 01794 725 454 or complete our contact form and we can help you make the switch.