Plastic pollution causes enormous damage to marine life and the environment, and the biggest problem is that about 30 % of plastic used is single-use. Our homes are full of plastic products that end up in the trash. Although they seem practical, we throw them away after just one use. This plastic is not only the worst for the environment, but also the most used. We bring you the worst single-use plastic items we use almost every day.
Plastic pollution it starts already in our homes. For a big step towards sustainability and environmental protection, remove disposable plastic from your lifestyle.
Items that cause plastic pollution
1. Plastic bags
Although they have been talked about for a long time, many people are still not aware of them harmful effects of plastic pollution and plastic bags on the environment. It is estimated that more than 500 billion plastic bags are used annually in the world. The decomposition of one bag takes more than a hundred, even up to five hundred years, depending on the conditions in which it decomposes. The bags first break down into smaller parts, then into plastic dust that pollutes ecosystems and ends up in food and water. Plastic bags can be easily blown off and carried into wildlife areas. Many marine animals are endangered by plastic bags, as they can become entangled in them and suffocate, and animals can also eat them. After laws were passed to regulate the use of plastic bags and many people switched to more environmentally friendly alternatives, there are still a lot of the thinnest plastic bags for fruits and vegetables in use.
2. Plastic water bottles
Single-use bottles in which water, mineral water, iced teas, juices and other drinks are sold are among the biggest sources of waste on land and in the sea. They are one of the most popular single-use plastic materials and the number one polluter of plastic on the planet. Plastic bottle caps are a common sight on beaches. Almost three million plastic bottles are thrown away every hour in the US, while the UK uses around 10 billion bottles a year. Instead of buying drinks in bottles, get a reusable glass or stainless steel or aluminum bottle that you can always carry with you and refill whenever you want, and it's easy to wash after use.
3. "To-go" coffee pots and lids
We use approximately 1.8 billion coffee pots and 1.5 billion coffee caps each year, most of which end up in landfills. It is important to note that most coffee pots and does not recycle or compost outdoor covers. If possible, do not use coffee machines. Use reusable cups and if you buy a coffee on the way to a coffee shop and you can't use your own reusable cup, at least don't take the lid.
4. Takeaway food packaging
Polystyrene is a plastic component found in a variety of plastics, from cutlery to coffee cups and straws. It is better known as white material called styrofoam. It is not biodegradable and is rarely recycled as it requires a complex recycling process. This can often blow plastic from landfills and dumps into wildlife areas and oceans, causing pollution and posing a threat to wildlife. Because of its soft structure, it quickly begins to break down and disperses into millions of tiny pieces that birds and other wildlife often mistaken for food. The good news is that work is underway to pass laws in the coming years that will ban the use of polystyrene food packaging. However, single-use plastic containers are still everywhere, from supermarkets to local cafes and takeaways. Next time you're ordering takeout, choose dishes like pizza that aren't often in plastic containers and avoid prepackaged meals. Some packaging options include stainless steel food containers and mason jars. You can also shop at bulk food stores and bring your own filling containers.
5. Plastic cutlery
Plastic utensils can be cheap and convenient when you throw parties or picnics, but when you throw them away, they end up in landfills. Most recycling centers and recycling machines cannot sort them due to their shape. Alternatives can be made from materials such as bamboo, palm fronds or sugarcane, but these can cause other problems. The best option would be to switch to reusable alternatives, which also help reduce waste. The next time you order takeout, be sure to say that you don't need a disposable container. Get yourself a travel cutlery set that you can take with you wherever you go or bring it from home.
6. Menstrual products
Millions of disposable menstrual pads and tampons are thrown away every year, polluting rivers and seas. There is an alternative in reusable pads, organic cotton products or other materials that are more environmentally friendly.
7. Wet wipes
Millions of disposable wipes end up being flushed down the toilet, because they look like tissues, but they usually contain plastic and don't dissolve like toilet paper. Even wipes labeled flushable can wreak havoc in sewers and eventually rivers and oceans. There are alternatives such as washable wipes or truly biodegradable/compostable wipes.
European Union has adopted a single-use plastic ban directive effective from 3 July 2021 and that most of these single-use products are banned e.g. plastic straws and ear sticks and are already being replaced by more environmentally friendly alternatives. For example, plastic straws are being replaced by glass and paper straws made from bamboo and stainless steel. Alternatives to ear sticks are ear washes, bamboo sticks, or reusable silicone sticks.