Long term impact of plastic use, and how to stop contributing

March 23, 2020

Collage by Kat Adams; source images by Pexels from Pixabay and Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Kat Adams sees right through the flimsy, needless consumerism we’re all drowning in

The next time you walk into a supermarket, stop and look around you. That magazine you were thinking of buying? It’s wrapped in plastic. The bag of fruit? Plastic. The frozen peas? Plastic.

Everything wrapped in plastic for convenience, expediency – do you ever stop to think about where the packaging goes after you’ve discarded it? For the majority of the population, as they throw that small piece of plastic in the bin, they also discard any concerns on the impact of this on the environment.

But then comes the sobering image shoved in the back of a newspaper, somewhere they don’t think you’ll check, but feel obligated to include. Images of plastic in seagulls, of beaches littered in plastic bottles, or how the micro plastics are now dissolved in water, and how we digest 142 particles of plastic a day, and inhale another 170 too.

Perhaps people think it’s more difficult to reduce their plastic usage than it really is

By 2050, there is predicted to be more plastic in the sea than fish. These are images and facts that big business doesn’t want you to see, because they profit off the short-term consumerist culture that we live in, regardless of the long-term effects that are detrimental to the health of thousands.

And here lies the debate: are people really willing to give up the luxurious lifestyle of new clothes, skincare products and mobile phones in order to try and stop this disaster before it’s too late?

Perhaps people think it’s more difficult to reduce their plastic usage than it really is. I’ve found that some of the most effective ways to reduce my plastic waste are also some of the easiest:

  • Stop accepting plastic bags (yes, even the ones in the vegetable aisle)! What some people don’t realise is you can take loose fruit and vegetables to the checkout without smothering them in plastic that gets thrown in the bin as soon as you put them in the fridge.
  • Drink your drinks without straws, and if you find that you do need one, make a one-time purchase of an acrylic or metal straw that can easily be carried in your bag.
  • Buy a reusable coffee cup. This sometimes has the added bonus of 50p off you’re drink, so you are saving the world and money;
  • Stop buying meal deals for lunch! Yes, it is more time consuming to make your own lunch in the morning, but you save yourself a trip to your local shop every day, save some money and reduce the amount of landfill you produce.
  • Carry your own cutlery with you. We’ve all been in that situation where restaurants only provide single use plastic cutlery, felt the crushing guilt as we accept it. However, you can very easily bring your own from home, and if you don’t want to, there are very compact sets of cutlery that you can buy for a couple of pounds, with their own case to stop them getting dirty.
  • Use bars of soap where possible, which helps to reduce the amount of bottles you waste.

Half of all plastic made was made in the last ten years, but if everyone implemented these simple steps we, as a society and community, can reduce the amount made in the future, and begin the transition from a plastic based, consumerist culture, to a more sustainable society.

There were a multitude of challenges that I faced when going plastic free; but the main one was the fact that I had to plan ahead. I couldn’t just rush to the shops and grab a drink and lunch, I had to make it the night before.

However, it became therapeutic, and made my days calmer and more organised. I even found it reduced the stress and anxiety I felt as the days progressed.

All in all, reducing your plastic footprint not only reduces the panic of everyday life, and the guilt on your conscience, you no longer contributing to an unsustainable, greedy, consumerist culture.

Kat is studying Psychology, English and Geography at The Compton Sixth Form. She loves to read and dance to kpop songs in her free time.

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