Plastic. A simple word that should be easy to explain, but it isn’t. We invented plastic, we depend on it and now we’re drowning in it. The miracle material invented during the time of World War 2 in 1939 has made modern life possible. But more than 40 percent of it is used just once, and it’s choking our waterways littering our streets and even becoming part of our food.
There are many kinds of plastic and they are all surrounded by a huge amount of misinformation, greenwashing, and confusion. This plastic-free July, we at Saathi want to help you understand which materials Nature can handle and those that Nature can’t.
Ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastic pollution. Some are harmed externally—strangled by abandoned fishing nets or discarded six-pack rings. Many more are probably harmed internally. Marine species of all sizes, from zooplankton to whales, now eat microplastics, which are smaller than one-fifth of an inch across. There is a Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Also known as the Pacific trash vortex, the garbage patch is actually two distinct collections of debris bounded by the massive North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. And, many humans eat fish which means we are also eating these microplastics.
Did you know - it had plastic?
- Face wash: The little beads present in your facewash are microplastics. As you wash your face, they travel down the drain and water treatment facilities don’t have the equipment to catch these beads, allowing them to pollute our environment.
- Aluminum cans: Cans are lined with plastic on the inside so the liquid doesn’t corrode the aluminum.
- Tea bags: Some tea bags are sealed with polypropylene, not making them compostable. Other tea bags are made of plastic fibers, and as you make your tea, the bags shed micro and nanoparticles into your tea.
- Produce stickers: The stickers on fruits and veggies are plastic and NOT compostable or biodegradable. Remember to take them off before you throw your scraps into the compost bin!
Some Facts about plastic:
- Some 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions. That’s the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash sitting on every foot of coastline around the world.
- Nearly a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute around the world.
- About 8 percent of the world’s oil production is used to make plastic and power the manufacturing of it. That figure is projected to rise to 20 percent by 2050.
- Half the world’s plastics are made in Asia. The lion’s share of that— 29 percent—is made in China, home to 18 percent of the world’s population.
- Nearly half of all plastic ever manufactured has been made since 2000.
- 40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, used just once, and then discarded.
Difference between Reusable and Recyclable:
Single-Use Plastic, Reusable Plastic & Recyclable Plastic:
Cradle to Cradle Approach:
Most often, when you hear a company talk about the life cycle of their product, they’ll use the phrase “cradle-to-grave”. This implies that a product’s life cycle starts when it’s created and that the product’s life cycle, along with the company’s responsibility for the product, ends when that product is disposed of. However, there is a more sustainable way for companies to approach a product’s life cycle called “cradle-to-cradle”. The cradle-to-cradle method requires that a product’s life cycle is cyclical, meaning that it’s always being reused or returned to the earth. There are two cycles a product can go through: a biological cycle and a technology cycle. In a cradle-to-cradle biological cycle, all of a product’s materials will naturally biodegrade and return to the earth. In a cradle-to-cradle technology cycle, valuable materials, such as metals and oil-based plastics, will continuously be reused and recycled while maintaining the quality of the product. This means that a company is able to maintain a closed system for their product in which their products and the materials they use to make those products don’t end up disposed of in landfills.
When you choose to buy products made of sustainably sourced, renewable materials from companies that practice a cradle-to-cradle approach, you are able to lower the amount of plastic you are disposing of, which is better for our environment.
Everything we buy, consume or use has an effect on the environment. Do we really need 5 handbags? Or 12 different pairs of shoes? Can we not make do with the old mobile phone for longer, just so that we generate less e-waste per person? These are small steps but with every individual making such mindful, responsible choices will help reduce waste in the first place and ease the amount of recycling, repurposing and disposal required.
At Saathi, we developed all-natural biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads made of banana and bamboo fiber which are good for the body, community, and environment. When you purchase Saathi pads, you are not just getting a soft, rash-free product, but you’re also helping an Indian farmer, enabling a village girl to attend school because she has access to pads, and reducing plastic pollution and CO2 emissions! Hats off to you!
This plastic free July, gain a little knowledge, inform ourselves and only trust processes and products which are truly eco-friendly. Let us pledge to never get fooled by-products which are oxo-biodegradable and are a part of green-washing.
Check out our blog on items that you never knew contained plastic.
Comment below with all your questions related to plastic and we will guide you through it.
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