It’s in everything we buy, it’s on every supermarket shelf, and it seems impossible to avoid. But there are so many reasons why you should say goodbye to plastic for good. Going plastic-free takes a lot of careful planning, but the benefits to the environment and to public health make it worth your while. Here are 7 reasons why you should say no to plastics when you shop:
1. Plastics contribute to climate change
Most of the plastic bags we use in everyday life are made of polypropylene, a material that comes from petroleum and other fossil fuel based resources. When these resources are extracted, they release CO2 into the atmosphere. Producing plastic bags is also very energy intensive. To make 9 plastic bags, it’s the energy equivalent of driving a car for one kilometer.
2. They’re polluting our oceans
The thing about plastic is that it never breaks down. Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the sea. If we continue at the rate we’re going, there could be over 80 million tonnes of plastic in our water over the next decade.
3. Plastic fibres get into our food and water
Though plastic doesn’t degrade, it does break into little pieces. These fragments get into our water system, and are hard to filter out without a reverse osmosis filtering device. And if that doesn’t put you off buying plastic, knowing that 93% of bottled water around the world is contaminated by microplastics might. Maybe getting your water in plastic bottles isn’t so appealing after all.
4. It’s harmful to marine life
Not only does plastic get into our tap water, but it’s also ingested by marine life. Due to the size of microplastics, they are often mistaken for food and can lead to health issues or suffocation. Furthermore, fish fans will end up with plastic on their plates. So it affects the whole food chain, all the way to us.
5. Plastic can cause cancer
Toxic chemicals found in plastic bottles and other plastic products can be harmful to human health. Regular exposure to a chemical called BPA can cause cancer, birth defects in pregnant women, hormone problems, decreased immunity, and more.
6. They’re not easy to recycle
Some plastics are recyclable, but not all. Only a small percentage of plastic packaging can actually be turned into something else, leaving a large amount piling up on landfills. It can also be very confusing, as many plants accept plastic bottles but not the bottle caps, which can lead to contamination. And due to plastic bags getting caught in machinery, the recycle rate for bags is less than 5%.
7. Plastic costs you a lot of money
Did you know that the cost of plastic bag cleanup costs taxpayers around $11 billion per year in the US alone? Not only is plastic bad for the environment and public health, it’s also bad for the economy. Whilst plastic bags have always been ‘free’ in shops and supermarkets, they’re actually anything but when you work out the cost of tax.
If you want to stop using plastic bags for good, here are some alternatives the next time you do your shopping.