Updated: Dec 22, 2019
Fast paced life of a modern society and consumerism have led us to an addiction of disposable plastic. Wherever you look these days, there is a high chance you would find a single-use plastic item: from take away cup you are sipping your morning coffee from, packaging film you are wrapping your kids’ sandwich into, a bottle of shampoo on your bathroom shelf to a plastic bag that you carry your grocery in.
Based on what researchers estimate, since 1950s when plastic made its way into the world we have produced over 8.3 billion tonnes of it. Around 60% of that plastic has sadly ended up in the natural environment or landfills. As if it is not enough it has been predicted that our consumption of disposable plastic will only be growing by making our environment so plastic polluted that by 2050 our oceans could contain more plastic than fish. The clock is ticking and it is up to each and every one of us to make sure that this scenario will never happen.
To make your own positive contribution make sure you refuse or at least reduce to the minimum the items below.
#1. Plastic straws
In Australia alone we use about 10 million single-use plastic straws daily. Due to the light weight they are easily blown into our oceans and waterways where they kill and injure the marine life. Considering a very short lifespan of 20 minutes and a very long time to degrade (up to 600 years), it only makes sense to start using reusable plastic straws alternatives such as straws made from bamboo, stainless steel or glass. And if there is no alternative available, simply refuse using a straw altogether! Also don’t forget to support businesses that care about sustainability and transitioned to straws made from paper, pasta and even rice.
#2. Plastic coffee pods
Made from a combination of plastics and aluminium, coffee pods are another single-use plastic item that take literally centuries to degrade - up to 500 years to be precise. In 2015 coffee-loving Australians spent whopping 215 million AUD on coffee pods. To end this unhealthy - for both you and the planet - love affair switch to either reusable coffee pods or simply good old coffee beans!
#3. Disposable nappies
Nowadays, our children are surrounded in plastic, too. Toys, bottles, cutlery, pacifiers and - yes - nappies - all those are made entirely or partly from plastic. Nappy is a single-use plastic item that is cheap (seemingly) and convenient. The problem is that single-use diapers contribute greatly to the plastic pollution: it takes about 150 years for a conventional disposable nappy to break down. At the same time, in Australia and New Zealand alone we are using a staggering 3.75 million disposable nappies each day.
To become more environmentally friendly, switch to cloth nappies instead. Although the initial investment may seem higher, the cost of reusable nappies over the lifetime of a child goes down significantly. Also, you don’t need many cloth nappies and you can reuse them with other babies, resell or give them away to a friend.
#4. Plastic bottles
One of the biggest contributors to the plastic pollution, plastic water bottles require up to 700 years to break down. And worldwide we buy shocking 1 million of them! With so many reusable (and pretty) alternatives currently available at the market it is not really difficult to kiss plastic bottles good-bye!
#5. Plastic bags
It is estimated that 4 trillion (!!!) plastic bags are used worldwide annually. Unfortunately, only 1% of those are returned for recycling. Similar to plastic straws, due to the light weight plastic bags can travel far and often end up in oceans and waterways where they are mistaken for food by many species which leads to their death. Realising the size of the problem, many governments are now banning this single-use plastic item trying to encourage consumers to use reusable shopping bags.
Apart from switching to reusable shopping bags you can go a bit further and use reusable produce bags that are becoming more and more popular, too. And, finally, don’t forget about ditching single-use plastic garbage bags that contribute to the plastic pollution greatly. If you go plastic bags-free, go all the way through - especially since now you have a clever reusable alternative - TOMbag reusable garbage bags.
TOMbag is on a mission to replace every single-use plastic bag on earth with our sustainable and functional reusable alternatives. We believe small changes by many is the true catalyst for changing the world - for good. Join us.