Greentings Everyone! What if we lived in a parallel universe where single use plastic did not exist? Where the likes of Lucy (check out post The Life of Lucy), our single use plastic water bottle served no use? This universe may seem very farfetched, only because we have grown so accustomed to the convenience of plastic that we have forgotten what it was like to go to our local market and buy vegetables which are not packaged in Styrofoam and cling wrap, drink water from fountains with out a second thought on the source of the water and whether it has been contaminated upstream. These actions described are not such a distant memory. It is estimated that 50% of all plastic in circulation today has only been created in the last 13 ten years! As fast-moving consumer goods companies over extend their supply chains, they look for the most affordable and easiest alternatives to packaging these goods, ultimately leaving us to bear the burden of these plastics which will serve a single use and will be discarded to live among us as waste for the next 450 years. Consumers should realize that by changing their purchasing habits, this “utopian” society where plastic is no longer demanded could once again become a reality. This message is as vital as ever in the world we live in today where issues such as this are not getting the media attention that is needed. Spread the word!
Turn the tap off
A family of 4 in the United States spends roughly around USD 3,114 per year on bottled water. This significant cost is a considerable burden at the end of the day for most households. What if I told you that there is a simpler solution which minimizes your plastic usage, but also saves you on trips to the supermarket to restock? A simple water filter can be directly installed at your house, accessing the tap water and diverting it into filters which can remove a wide variety of chemicals and bacteria, making the water potable and in some instances healthier than bottled water. Less than 10% of the cost of bottled water is used to pay for the water itself, the rest of the money goes towards things like packaging, shipping and marketing the water as water from some natural spring up in some mountain glaciers. One thing that we must make clear here is that most bottle water is in fact treated tap water and therefore if you live in a location which is fortunate enough to have potable water, this could be a perfect solution for you. Oh, I forgot to mention that this saves a family of 4 around USD 2,878 on water per year, with all variable’s constant. Isn’t this amazing? Turn the tap off on watered bottle and start turning the tap on at home in a responsible manner!
As countless zero waste stores pop up across the country, people are starting to shop at these places. The lure of this is the fact that you feel like you are tackling the plastic problem head on. In some cases, these stores do in fact help you reduce your plastic footprint. Zero waste stores require that you Bring Your Own Box as to fill up from bulk dispensaries all lined up in the aisles. This process surely reduces the amount of packaging required, and if we take into consideration a sample size larger than one, this is bound to affect the amount of trash produced. Not all boxes are created equal though, a Tupperware container which is plastic may contain more than 10 times the plastic required for a single use plastic, therefore to be able to really make a difference, you would need to use it 20 times, 100 times or 1000 times before it is a better alternative. Glass and aluminum may resolve the plastic challenge, they are however also emission heavy and transport intensive…a better option yes, mainly because their negative externalities are so hard to calculate accurately. The simple fact that this is already a viable option brings hope that we are amid a change in consumer behavior and is one step closer to finding an even better solution and one step further from the edge.
A tree grows from its roots up, being the foundation and base, for whatever comes above. The plastic challenge is also a foundational challenge that should be addressed as to provide systemic change. From the root, getting producers involved in the debate via an extended producer responsibility arrangement to the tip of the leaf, us as consumers changing our habits and striving for a more sustainable world. We are all in this together and should tackle it together as to close the cycle and move forward towards a zero-waste society!