How can we reduce dependency to plastics as we contribute to ending plastic pollution?

Plastics may have given us convenience and affordability. But the time to shift has come. Plastics hugely pollute environment. They prevent water from infiltrating the soil and block drainage systems which triggers flooding. Plastics threaten biodiversity in water bodies like lakes and rivers and increase air pollution due to burning of plastic waste.

It is thus time to accelerate actions to beat plastic pollution to protect our environment and off course protect ourselves as we're members of ecosystem. With simple steps, you can contribute to fighting plastic pollution from home to neighborhood, workplace and other places.

Let’s take an example like at workplace. Through shifting from using single use water bottles to water dispensers and reusable bottles, an organization can hugely reduce the amount of plastics that later become waste. 

How can we go about it?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an adult should consume at least two litters of water per day, and the quantity may vary depending on different aspects including weather and human conditions. If an adult takes two litters per day, a company of 60 staff members will consume 2,640 litters packaged in 5,280 bottles of 500 ml each during 22 working days per month maximum.  These exclude the number of water bottles used for meetings, visits and other occasions!  Imagine where waste bottles will go after consumption! We all know.

However, the institution may decide otherwise and can adopt to use water dispensers and gallons for staff water refreshment.  In this case, only few gallons will be used and staff will use reusable bottles or glasses for taking water. How good will it be!

Impact of plastics on human health and environment

During the production of plastic bottles, micro-plastics are produced and they end up in water that we drink. Micro-plastics are tiny plastic particles that result from the breakdown of larger plastics. When storing or transporting water bottles, friction between the bottles can cause the release of micro-plastics into the water.  When the bottle is also exposed to high temperatures, the micro-plastics can detach and end up in water in the bottle.

These micro-plastics could, according to certain studies, affect the immune and hormonal system and can cause fertility problems. Additionally, microplastics can carry toxic chemicals, such as phthalates, flame retardants and pesticides, which can have even more serious effects on human health.

For the environment, plastic water bottles are a major contributor to ocean pollution. The massive consumption generates a significant amount of plastic waste, which often ends up in the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems, thus disrupting the fauna and flora. Plastic waste breaks down into micro-plastics, which are ingested by marine organisms and have serious consequences on the food chain and biodiversity.

Plastics also contribute to greenhouse gas emission. The production and transport of plastic water bottles generate significant greenhouse gas emissions and the production of plastic bottles also requires the use of large amounts of fossil energy, mainly oil. This production releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

The manufacture of plastic water bottles also requires a significant amount of water. According to some estimates, the production of a single plastic water bottle requires up to three times the amount of water contained in the bottle itself. This can have adverse effects on local water resources, as it often requires the extraction of large amounts of groundwater.

Besides this, recycling of plastic water bottles is complex. Bottles must be collected, sorted, cleaned and turned into plastic pellets before being used to make new products. Therefore, as the process is expensive, much plastic waste ends up in landfills or in nature, polluting soils and waterways. In addition, recycling plastic bottles often requires the use of toxic chemicals, which can have adverse effects on the environment and human health. 

Therefore, as the recycling appears to be complex, the most effective alternative is to reduce the use of single-use plastics. This means that, embracing circularity for plastics is really the best solution to reduce plastic waste and pollution. By using a reusable glass bottle, for example, you can significantly reduce your plastic consumption and be part of movement contributing to ending plastic pollution!