According to a report by Australia’s University of Newcastle, the average person is consuming 2000 micro particles of plastic every week – the equivalent of chewing up and swallowing a credit card! In other studies the consumption of plastics has been linked to a general decrease in fertility around the globe. Plastic is clearly not as fantastic as we once thought it was.
The trouble with plastic is that is doesn’t go away, it merely breaks down into smaller and smaller fragments. That’s how it gets into the water system, our oceans, our fish and into us! It is also everywhere. Apart from the obvious packaging, plastic lurks in less conspicuous places. It’s in teabags, fabrics – even toothpaste!
So what can you do about it? You can start by becoming more aware of the plastic problem and where it lurks. Try to avoid plastic packaging. And when you can’t, don’t automatically throw it into the rubbish bin where it will end up in landfill.
Put plastic to work
When it comes to plastic waste, think carefully how you dispose of it. Some supermarkets now have bins for ‘soft packaging’, which the Soft Packaging Recycling Scheme uses to make other plastic items such as fence posts and ducting. There are many other places that are recycling plastics. For example, you can collect the little plastic tags found on bread packaging and donate them to ‘Bread Tags for Wheelchairs’. The tags are recycled in South Africa and the money raised is used to buy wheelchairs. Check out the collection points around the country.
But don’t stop there – you will find even more places to recycle plastic on this link for Weird Recycling. People have come up with some ingenious ways of re-using plastics and the more we can recycle and re-use, the less will go into landfill and end up in the environment. You may even have some ideas yourself – if so, you are welcome to leave a comment.
At Creative Junk, we’ve been helping people to re-use plastic containers for years. Your waste yogurt pot is a teacher’s handy paint container! We accept all sorts of containers and so-called plastic ‘waste’, so that other people can find a use for them. Come and visit our Christchurch store and see what we have on offer.
Celia Coyne is a writer and editor living in Christchurch.