Over 120 countries including China have joined the movement to ban single-use plastics. China is even going as far as to outlaw the production and sale of non-biodegradable bags and single-use straws by the end of 2020. While watching people band together to make these radical changes truly gives us warm fuzzy feelings of happiness and hope, this is still not enough to address the deeper issue of the accruing waste that’s harming our planet. Because of that, there is a lot of confusion about whether or not it’s pointless to ban these items. It’s NOT pointless, btw. Drawing attention to the issue and making plans to help does have an effect, we just need more plans and more people to care. Here’s why you should care about single-use plastics.
Plastic Bags & Straws – What’s the Big Deal?
The big deal is that these items are used EVERYWHERE all of the time. Every single person who is not waste-conscious goes through piles and piles of plastic straws and bags monthly. The biggest bummer is that these items don’t break down, they just float around and pollute our environment. They’re convenient yes, but so are the reusable versions of these things. The only reason that’s holding a lot of people back is embracing the change and sticking to it. Are you having trouble eliminating single-use plastics? Here are some facts specifically about plastic bags that may help:
- Are made from non-renewable sources, therefore contribute greatly to climate change.
- Do not break down naturally, and instead become tiny pieces of plastic that end up in our oceans and in the bellies of wildlife AND human beings.
- Contain harmful chemicals that can disrupt how hormones behave in our bodies, resulting in severe effects on our health.
- Can disrupt the digestion systems in animals, causing infections and death due to suffocation.
- Are expensive, costing taxpayers about $88 a year (plastic bag cleanup is 17 cents a bag).
These are just some examples of the damage that single-use plastics do to our environment and the actual physical health of human beings.
What Needs to Happen Now
While the implementation of the new laws around single-use plastics is inspiring and encouraging, it’s important that the replacements for those items are also being considered. For example, a popular coffee company eliminated the need for straws by making sippable lids for cold beverages. These lids actually use more plastic to create than the straws do, so the problem isn’t actually being effectively addressed.
Governments at the state and federal levels need to not just implement these laws but invest in redesigning plastics so they can break down and be reused. Better recycling technology would help tremendously, as 25% of plastics that are collected for recycling cannot be used due to contamination. More companies need to find ways to re-use plastics instead of other materials. We have begun taking some baby steps but need to start looking at the bigger picture and setting up systems to make real effective change possible.
Learn more about how we at swaggr recycle single-use plastics in our socks here!