United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) report shows that plastic pollution leakage into aquatic ecosystems has grown sharply in recent years and is projected to more than double by 2030, with dire consequences for human health, the global economy, biodiversity and the climate.
Solutions to this plastic conundrum are complex and include improving regulation, ramping up recycling and introducing incentives to encourage a reduction in virgin plastic production. But experts say there are several things everyday people can do to help tackle the mounting toll plastic is taking on the environment.
If you’re looking to break your addiction to plastic, take these 6 simple steps.
Adopt a circular lifestyle
Invest in sustainable, ocean-friendly products, like reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, and food packaging. Also check out options like reusable nappies and menstrual products, bamboo toothbrushes, and solid shampoos. You could save money and protect the oceans and the planet at the same time because plastics are also a climate problem.
Steer clear of plastic gloves
COVID-19 has led to an explosion in the use of disposable plastic gloves. But in addition to being bad for the environment, the World Health Organization (WHO) says gloves risk transferring germs from one surface to another and contaminating your hands when you remove them. WHO says it’s safer to ditch plastic gloves and instead wash your hands frequently.
Make sure your toiletries are plastic-free
Personal care products are a major source of microplastics, which get washed into the oceans straight from our bathrooms. Look for plastic-free face wash, day cream, makeup, deodorant, shampoo and other products.
Say no to plastic when you’re shopping
Try to reduce your plastic footprint by choosing food without plastic packaging and bringing a reusable bag. Some shops now have plastic-free aisles and many offer loose produce or use dispensers and refillable containers. Use your own coffee mug when out and about instead of accepting a plastic one. And, of course, ditch the plastic straws and stir sticks. When shopping online, look for options that will allow you to opt out of plastic packaging.
Roll up your sleeves and get cleaning
Plastic is everywhere: it’s in parks, rivers and on beaches. Join global and local movements or organize a cleanup yourself. If you jog, become a ‘plogger’ and pick up any litter you see on your way (all the while observing COVID-19 hygiene protocols). Some 80 percent of marine litter originates on land and in rivers.
Not only is smoking one of the world’s biggest public health threats – killing more than 8 million people annually – it also contributes to enormous plastic pollution of our oceans. Every day, billions of cigarettes are sold around the world, each containing plastic filters and toxic chemicals. These wastes will end up in landfills – polluting and damaging the environment – or in the sea where they threaten marine species.
[This story is a part of ‘Punascha Pruthibi – One Earth. Unite for It’ awareness campaign by Sambad Digital]