ONE-TIME USE PLASTICS
synthetic material made from a wide range of organic polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc., that can be molded into shape while soft and then set into a rigid or slightly elastic form.
Basically a Plastic is a material used and can be found on every households, it can be a water bottle, your laptop casing, your cell phone or even in a simplest form of food packaging. A plastic is a sturdy material that can be used more than 1 time. Plastics are being used as an alternative for other materials like wood, metal and glass. This can be formed into many useful products like polyesters for fabrics and textiles, polyvinylidene chloride for food packaging and polycarbonates for eyeglasses and compact discs, and other thousand of it.
In 2016 the plastic production rised up to 335 million metric tons. This can actually make a small country made out of plastic. THINK!
STRAWS IN THE BEACH
Summer is a season for all to crave into their favored cold drinks. How do you enjoy your refreshment at a time like this? Do you gulp or drink from a straw to amuse your thirst? I for one would simply grab that beverage and take a straw to satisfy my thirst. But have you ever thought of drinking your crushed ice lemonade straight from the cup? Definitely it is better than wasting effort on plastic straw.
Why do we even bother using a straw to drink if we can gulp directly from its source? Let me take you back from the old days where people used the straw for different purpose. In the Mesopotamian era, men used straw to filter the beer which has byproducts and fast forward to the 1900’s where the use of straw is important when a disease called polio became widespread and people have to resort to usage of straw in shared glasses. Back to the 1950’s where different fast food establishments use straws and other materials to replace washable glassware’s to dispose utensils easily… up to now at this present time we still use the straw but instead of the paper straws it is now changed to plastics.
Plastics are actually the best material for industries to use as it makes it convenient for them. Technically, plastic is a strong material in a sense that is is durable and resistant in cold and hot conditions. Another advantage of plastic to its manufacturers is for its cheapness.
If plastic would have advantages then what is the real problem about using one plastic straw to drink from your favorite beverage? The perfect answer is VOLUME. People tend to utilize a lot of straw in a day when one person can have their own personal straw. According to the LA Times a magazine in the USA, almost half a billion plastic straws are discarded everyday. How can we imagine the pollution that one straw can do that may ruin our environment to billions of these straws adding up everyday?
Now let us speak to you about mimimizing this plastic issue. One person can make a difference a cliche that some don’t notice. We have the control to act on this very concerning issue. It may not be the first priority of any government in the world but it should be our priority because our ecosystem now suffer for our own indifference and laziness to protect our natural habitat. Let us act not because the problem arises but because we share this ennvironment with diversity and openness to all creatures living in it. We begin by one simple act at a time.
Now that we are in the verge of technological advancement, we should look into using metal straws that we don’t add up to the billions of plastic straws scattered all around us. There are various organizations now that campaigns for usage of metal straws that can be personalized and customized. When we now go to the beach during the summer we should remember to bring our metal straws and enjoy the heat without harming our environment.
METAL STRAW / BAMBOO STRAW / GLASS STRAW – WHICH ONE TO USE?
There are many alternatives to the single-use plastic straw. There are straws made from metal, bamboo, glass, etc. But we should not be too quick in purchasing things like these. Each material has its pros and cons.
Bamboo straws are the number one choice as an alternative. But many people don’t recommend such because the usual wood whenever it’s exposed to water, deteriorates and the small particles of the bamboo goes together with the liquid when used daily. It can also have molds inside them that can cause stomach upset. When it comes to hygiene wood/bamboo products is less suggested by medical practitioners co’z it can produce/accumulate more bacteria compare to other materials But on the other hand, bamboo straws decompose faster and naturally.
Metal and Steel straws are not that sustainable but it’ll last a lifetime, but purchasing such has its effect in sourcing its materials. We should keep in mind that mining for metal is still unhealthy for the environment. Metal straws are great. Metal/stainless straws are made of nickel. To get nickel, it has to be dug out of earth. So, producing it has bigger impact to earth.
Glass straws, on the other hand, is easy to clean and maintain. But it’s also easy to break. Resulting to buying another straw and the cycle goes on and on. Technically Metal/Glass Straws just lessen our used of plastic because reusable but when rusty, worn out and thrown away it creates more waste that will end landfill that will results for a more problematic pollution in the future.
There are other options nowadays like the straw made from cornstarch. These straws decompose overtime and can be composted in a commercial facility. Restaurants in Bali have been using these straws. Some use pasta as straws too. Humans are now being innovative when it comes to being sustainable.
Humans existed on earth without the use of straw for a long time, so I guess we can still exist without demanding for it, we can just sip directly to our glass. Although, there are some cases that are exempted like when straws are used by people with certain physical conditions. For example, those who have cerebral palsy and patients who suffered from stroke. It’s mass production should be restricted.
THE EFFECTS OF SINGLE-USE PLASTIC
What are the single use-plastics?
Single-use plastics are the disposable plastics that are only used once before they are thrown away. These are the items like plastic bags, shampoo/soap sachet, straws, coffee stirrers, water bottles and most food packaging. Petroleum based plastics is not biodegradable. These are the plastics that find its way to the ocean and to some of the animal’s stomach when not disposed properly.
A THREAT TO NATURE: THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH
Every minute, one garbage truck worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean. Eight million tonnes of plastics enter the oceans yearly, much of which has accumulated in five giant garbage patches around the earth. The largest accumulation zone of ocean garbage on the planet is much larger than anyone could ever think of. It measures 1.6 million square kilometers. Moreover, it is increasing exponentially and much faster than in surrounding waters .And now, each patches looks like a whole island made of garbage! And this dump is really a threat to the marine life and other animals.
A THREAT TO ANIMALS
It is not a rare site looking at birds that died because of having indigestible plastic in their stomach. According to a study, 9 out of 10 birds are now found with plastic inside their body. Several plastic items are most commonly found on a beach and on the sea are eaten by birds. Straws and bottle caps are always high on any list.
Life underneath the ocean is also in big threat, especially to sea turtles.
Fun fact: Did you know that the sea turtles control the population of jellyfishes in the ocean. Jellyfish is one of its main diet that’s why we can enjoy swimming in a jellyfish-free beach.
And because the sea turtles can’t see the difference between a clear jellyfish and a clear plastic, more and more sea turtles ingest more plastics yearly.
Fish actually prefer plastic over their normal diet, which leads to an increased death rate. Oysters, clams sold in the supermarket also have plastic in their guts. Most people eat the complete oyster and clam, meaning we are eating plastic as well.
Ever heard of the sperm whale that died because of 64 pounds of plastic debris that it ingested? Devastating, isn’t it? And it’s just one of the cases from different parts of the world that is caused by ocean pollution.
A THREAT TO HUMAN HEALTH
Humans produce millions of plastic product a year, which, most of it cannot be recycled. Plastics are not biodegradable, which means it will not decompose into natural substance like the soil but it will break down into tiny particles after million years and in the process of breaking down, it releases toxic chemicals that is used to shape and harden the plastic. These chemicals will eventually find their way into the soil, ocean and eventually to the water that we are drink and the foods that we eat. Studies have proved that chemicals are now being found in our bloodstream and the latest news is that these toxins is linked to infertility, cancer, birth defects and other ailments.
LIVING A ZERO WASTE LIFESTYLE
Leaving no trace or impact (as a human being) to the earth is really inevitable, but we can at least minimize our impact to save the environment. Here’s the catch of zero-waste lifestyle:
Producing less trash by not using single-use items, especially plastics!
Humans have this big problem of increasing demands for single-use plastic, from unnecessary packaging to one-time use cutlery. We need to step back and re-evaluate just how much we consume.
According to Bea Johnson, writer of the “Zero Waste Home” Book, there are 5Rs to follow. But before following these 5Rs, be sure that you are READY to REFUSE single use items.
- REFUSE what you don’t need (more trash to enter your house and life).
- REDUCE what you do need.
- REUSE what you have left.
- RECYCLE what you can’t refuse, reduce, or reuse.
- ROT the rest.
Ready your ecobag when shopping for grocery in order to refuse the single-use plastic for packaging. Ready your spoon, fork, tumbler and metal straw so you can refuse to use single-use cutlery. And be READY to educate people in for them to also REFUSE one-time use plastics.
Here are some simple ways for a zero-waste lifestyle:
- RECYCLE, upcycle and segregate.
- Bring your own cutlery/containers every time. Use reusable items.
- Shop consciously. When you buy an item, you create a demand for it. Also, use reusable shopping bags.
- Donate ecobricks. An ecobrick is a plastic bottle stuffed solid with non-biological waste to create a reusable building block.
How to make and donate an ecobrick?
1st step in creating an ecobricks is to collect your plastic waste, more importantly, plastic bottles.
2nd shred your plastic waste from single use plastic like sachets, etc.
3rd put the shredded plastics inside your plastic bottle until its full.
4TH Ask your local government where you can donate these ecobricks
Ecobricks, when stacked together, can be plastered and used to construct boundary walls, garden features or low-cost housing.
5th Lastly, share the knowledge to your friends and family. We, as individuals, can still make a difference.
THE NUMBERS PRINTED AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR PLASTIC PRODUCTS
So now you have some few ideas on how to re-use, reduce and recyclce some plastic products. but before you apply what you read. this is one of the must know about your plastic wares.
Have you seen a number under your plastic bottles or plastic wares? what does it mean? what does it stand for? so here it is.
Number 1 / PET or Polyethylene terephthalate
It indicates that the container has a water or carbon on it. you can still re-use this one but take note that micro organism may live or reside on it.
good example of this is beverage bottle, juices and bottled water.
Number 2 / HDPE or high density polyethylene
Bottles with #2 on it are the thicker and a not see through containers. this is most commonly used to store detergents, butter and other beverages. this type of bottles are considered to be used again and is safe for storage because it has a low risk of leaching
Number 3 / PVC or polyvinyl chloride
PVC is known on its thoughness but considered a high risk for cooking or storing of foods. Why? because phthalates are being used to produce this kind of mateerial that can affect hormone development and other problems.
so take note of that! never ever use this on cooking nor on a microwave.
Number 4 / LDPE or low density polyethylene
This plastics are considered to be safe for regular storage use. but usually not acepted for recycling. but some companies are starting to do so.
examples of this are clothing, trash bins, bread bags and some food wraps.
Number 5 / PP or Polypropyleene
is also one of the plastics that has a wide range of usage and very safe to be used. this types of plastic is being accepted by a lot of companies for recycling. examples of this are medicine bottles, ketchup bottles and more.
Number 6 / PS or polystyrene or Styrofoam
#6 is considered to be highly dangerous and to be thrown once used. most common types of this plastics are disposable caps, plates and utensils and chemical containers. This types of plastics are very hard to recycle and has a bad effect on the environment.
Number 7 / Others or Miscellaneous
This types of plastic are considered not to be used again specially for storing foods. It contains polycarbonates to Bisphenol (considered to be dangerous to health) commonly used in cellphone cases, computer cases, sun glasses and more.
– 3, 6 and 7 are considered dangerous and not be recycle specially for foods.
– 1 is considered safe but best to avoid this to.
– 2, 4, and 5 are plastic considered to be the safest for recycling and for food storage.
A RAY OF LIGHT
Reduce your plastic consumption, recycle, refuse the use of one-time use plastic and share the awareness. Small actions matter. Using reusable and long-time use things will greatly help the environment. Let’s support zero-waste lifestyle and be a part of saving our environment. It won’t change the world overnight, but if we try to make an effort, we can still do something the problem and help save the earth, and our future.
GREEN MOUNTAIN TRIBE INC.
2005 – Present
Live – Learn – Adapt – Apply