The Problem with Single-Use Plastics and How To Avoid Them

single use plastic

single use plastic

Single-use plastics are one of the biggest polluters today. The problem is they are designed to be disposable and then intentionally thrown away, with no way to recycle many of them. Some single-use plastic items you see today are straws, shopping bags, and plastic flatware. All of these items are used once and then thrown in the trash, filling our landfills and often our oceans and landscapes as well.

What is Single-Use Plastic?

Single-use plastic has been defined as an item made of fossil fuel-based chemicals or petrochemicals that is made to be disposable. The definition of petrochemical is a chemical obtained from petroleum and natural gas. This material is then made into items that are used once and often for a short amount of time. See the list below.

  • Plastic straws
  • Plastic coffee lids
  • To-go containers
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Plastic flatware
  • Plastic cups
  • Bubble wrap
  • Styrofoam
  • Packaging materials

Some more examples of single-use or unrecyclable plastics are cosmetic containers, plastic hangers, low-quality plastic toys, and non-refillable lighters.

Single-Use Plastics are Harmful

Using single-use plastic is dangerous for the environment, animals, and even humans. These plastics fill our landfills and are carried by stormwater into our waterways when littered. Unfortunately, plastic that was created in the 1950s still exists today; instead of being biodegradable, it simply breaks down into smaller plastic pieces, then into micro-plastic. Like micro-plastic, many plastic consumables are also small and lightweight and will travel long distances in the wind and pollute our oceans. These small fragments are eventually consumed by animals and often cause death from choking or from ingesting toxic chemicals.  There is no ‘away’ when plastic is thrown away.

Ultimately, microplastics are ingested by humans. This can happen by using single-use plastic like a water bottle, through inhalation of airborne micro-plastics, or by eating an animal that has ingested the plastic. Even if you are vegetarian, fruits and vegetables have also been found to contain microplastics from soil pollution.

A recent study showed that people consume 5 grams of microplastic a week, the equivalent of 1 credit card!

How to Avoid Single-Use Plastic

Even when broken down in landfills, single-use plastic and microplastics pollute the soil, and burning them creates harmful emissions. So how do we avoid single-use plastics? First, we reduce how much we use of it.

The most effective way to avoid single-use plastic waste is to choose not to use it. Reducing the use of plastics in your daily life will help to lower the amount circulating in landfills and the environment. In addition, the choice to shop with recycling in mind tells the market that you are interested in purchasing sustainable and recyclable products.  Vote with your wallet and companies will respond with more of what’s selling best.

Here are some ways you can avoid single-use plastics today.

  • Buy a reusable, recyclable water bottle
  • Buy a reusable coffee cup or travel mug
  • Dine in instead of ordering food to-go
  • Bring reusable straws and silverware with you when you go out
  • Bring your own reusable ‘doggie-bag’ containers to restaurants
  • Shop locally instead of ordering online
  • Shop at bulk stores and bring your own containers
  • Bring a cloth or reusable bag when grocery shopping
  • Use household plates, cups and flatware for parties, or buy compostable products that won’t do as much damage when thrown in the trash
  • Purchase items that can be recycled in your area

All these, in addition to practicing sustainable shopping and keeping recycling in mind, are great ways to make a positive impact. Some companies are dedicated to being environmentally conscious and you can support them with your business. Businesses that are part of the green movement make a large impact by producing reusable and sustainable products. Polly Products is one of those businesses. Our company is dedicated to our Green Promise because we believe that together we can make a difference in the environment.  Our products are made of 100% recycled materials that are durable and built to last for years to come. The goal is to keep plastic out of our landfills and environment, and we do because our products are also recyclable. If you are part of the solution and want recycled products that stand the test of time, shop our catalog here.

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