underPlastics Are Forever—Make a Change This Earth Day
Article submitted by Natracare
Plastic is everywhere. You’re using it right now—it’s part of your computer, your phone, your tablet. Microplastics are likely part of the chair you’re sitting in, and if you menstruate, there are probably microplastics in the menstrual pad you’re wearing.
What is plastic?
Plastic is a man-made substance produced by heating and processing finite crude oil and natural gas and adding other chemicals. Plastic will not dissolve or decay over time, which makes it very damaging to the living world. It won’t break down into materials that nature can use. In addition, scientists have found that when some plastics begin to deteriorate, they release hormone-disrupting chemicals that can affect the reproductive systems of animals and humans.
Time to end plastic pollution
One of plastic’s primary “benefits” is its durability and usefulness. Once considered positive, the fact that plastic will never disappear has become a catastrophe for our planet. The reality is that plastic pollution is harming frontline and fenceline communities, destroying our environment, and threatening our wildlife. Plastic pollution begins once fossil fuels are extracted to make it and continues to pollute throughout its existence.
With this problem in mind, one of the ongoing themes for Earth Day is “Break Free From Plastic.” As you may know, Earth Day is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to change human attitudes and behaviors about plastics fundamentally.
“The solutions to plastic pollution start far from the ocean, where we’ve studied the problem for many years,” says Dr. Marcus Eriksen, Co-Founder of The 5 Gyres Institute. “We’ve done enough research to know that the solution begins with smart policy to prevent the problem at the source. At the same time, we need business leaders, like Natracare, to bring innovative products and packaging to market.”
Clogging up our waters
A huge amount of plastic ends up in rivers and oceans. Plastic bags, nets, and six-pack rings frequently strangle and choke sea creatures. Smaller pieces of plastic are often mistaken for food and eaten by birds, fish, turtles, and mammals, frequently killing them. The film Albatross, produced by The Midway Project, demonstrates plastic’s shocking impact on our wildlife. Albatross is available to watch here beginning on Earth Day (Saturday, April 22, 2023).
In the ocean, plastic is less like an island and more like a plastic smog of tiny microplastic pieces that are 5mm in size or smaller. Across our oceans, there are five large circulating current systems, known as gyres, in which many plastics floating on the ocean’s surface accumulate. The five gyres are located in the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. The plastic materials in these gyres are constantly in the process of breaking up into smaller pieces, which permeate all water. (Learn more from our partners at 5 Gyres Institute.)
Reduce, reuse, refuse
So the question becomes: What can we do this Earth Day to be part of the solution to this growing plastic pollution problem?
The mantra Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle is a good place to start, but to tackle this problem, we must start refusing plastic. Keep in mind at least 50% of plastic is only used once, and in most cases, there are good alternatives for these needs.
Top tips for avoiding plastic
Choose loose fruit and vegetables in the supermarket and local shops.
Better still, grow your own food at home if you have the space!
Avoid fast food and takeaways, which often comes in plastic containers; instead, choose to cook at home or frequent eateries where they only sell food in paper or cardboard containers.
If you have children or buy for them, choose wooden toys over plastic ones.
Use bars of soap and shampoo rather than plastic bottles.
Remember to take your reusable cotton or jute bags when shopping.
Switch to plastic-free period products made from plant-based materials.
Wrap leftover food in natural materials like beeswax paper instead of cling film.
Have milk delivered to your door. It’s easy and will likely be in a glass bottle.
Try out a zero-waste store where food comes without packaging
Pester the shops you regularly use to replace plastic packaging with paper like these bold shoppers.
Admittedly, avoiding plastics in our current economic and social environment is difficult.
If you do end up with plastic packaging, however, recycle all the plastic you can. Your local waste management service accepts that. Also, it’s important to raise your voice.
Talk to retailers, talk to manufacturers, talk to family and friends. Spread the word about the harms of plastic, and consider using the hashtag #BreakFreeFromPlastic.
Lastly, make sure to get involved in #EarthDay. Check out the Earth Day 2023 Action Toolkit at www.earthday.org for more information about specific ways you can participate. Remember, every effort counts, and you can make a difference!
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22nd to promote environmental protection and raise awareness about the state of the planet. It was first observed in 1970 and has since grown to become a global event with participants from over 190 countries.
On Earth Day, people around the world participate in various activities and events to promote environmental protection and sustainability. This can include cleaning up local parks or beaches, planting trees, organizing community recycling programs, and advocating for environmental policy changes.
Earth Day serves as a reminder of the importance of taking care of the planet we live on and the impact that human actions have on the environment. It is a call to action for individuals, organizations, and governments to work together to protect the planet for future generations.
At OSN, we strive to alleviate the burden on customers by determining whether they are being under greenwashing Practices. We aim to provide transparent and honest information about the environmental impact of products to empower consumers to make informed choices.
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