By now, we are all aware that not all plastic is created equally.
There is a difference between the plastic water bottle we use when we go to the gym and the plastic bags used when we buy groceries. So what does this mean for me, the average consumer?
Single-use plastic is the one we should aim to avoid at all costs, this is the type of plastic we use once and throw away immediately once done. They generally include things like straws, plastic utensils, and coffee cup lids and tend to end up in the ocean which has a negative and lasting impact on our ocean ecosystem and by default our food systems. They are the ultimate bad guys.
But not all plastic is bad. It is also used in products we use every day such as cars and computers and these are things we cannot do without in our modern world. This type of plastic is long-lasting, durable, and essential in many industries. More often than not, these types of plastics can be recycled or repurposed, reducing their environmental impact.
Every single one of us can do little things daily to ensure that we are not contributing to the plastic problem. Here are a few tips:
Don't use single-use plastics whenever possible. Say no to straws or keep a reusable straw in your bag, buy your own reusable shopper, and opt for a reusable sandwich wrap instead of plastic cling wrap.
Buy products that are made from recycled or biodegradable materials. We have an entire range of bags made from recycled plastic.
Try to recycle properly whenever possible. Separate your trash and keep food waste separate from the items that can be recycled. If you have a garden some of your food waste can be used as compost. South Africa does not have proper systems in place to collect recyclable waste but we do have an extensive informal waste collection system. We can help these collectors by putting the right items in a separate packet and making sure those items are clean and dry. Contaminated items can't be recycled and can actually ruin the entire batch.
If we are more mindful of the types of plastics we use and how we dispose of them, we can all do our part to protect the environment. So, let's say goodbye to single-use plastics and hello to a more sustainable future!
Read more about the South African plastics pact and how we need to rethink how we the way we design, use, and reuse plastics:
You can also read up about the circular plastics and how a useful material such as plastic has value and how we can better manage it:
Read our 2020 Plastics: Facts and Futures report and how we can move beyond pollution management towards a circular plastics economy in South Africa.