Recent predictions tell us that, by 2050, plastic will outweigh fish in our oceans. This is an incredibly alarming statistic, but what’s more, it’s estimated that over half of the plastic the world consumes is used only once.
This means that around 150 million tonnes of plastic every year is being used for just a few minutes; yet will remain on our planet polluting it for up to 1000 years.
Think about how much ends up in the rubbish bin after a lazy Sunday night takeaway, the rows of plastic wrapped items on supermarket shelves, straws, and every disposable coffee cup you see around town. Generally speaking, none of these can be recycled and, even if they end up in the rubbish bin instead of on the streets, they will go straight to landfill.
Recent reports indicate only 5% of all plastics are recycled effectively, while 40% end up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems such as our oceans. When it does finally start to breakdown, it releases toxins into the environment, breaking into smaller pieces called microplastics, polluting our oceans and causing great harm to birds and marine life.
The EU is currently making plans to address this and will soon ban many popular single-use plastic products, and reduce others that don’t yet have readily available alternatives. Producers of takeaway containers, plastic drinking bottles and cups will be forced to contribute to cleaning up their collection and waste treatment and there are rumours of a plastics tax coming into play.
Plastic has fast become one of the biggest dangers to our planet, yet our society has become increasingly dependent on it. This means that fading it out of your lifestyle can be difficult. But we must start somewhere and the more people who create a demand for alternatives, the sooner the rest of society will be mobilised to do the same
To help point you in the right direction, here are some tips to reduce waste:
- Ask Street Feast attendees to bring their own reusable cups, water bottles, utensils and plates.
- If people don’t bring their own food-ware, or if you don’t want to ask them to, provide durable, washable dishes.
- Ask for a contribution to go towards compostable paper cups.
- Avoid straws at all costs! And plastic table cloths, why not use a colourful sheet instead?
- Provide tap water for drink refills.
- Provide zero waste or plastic-free food. Avoid using cling-wrap and foil and cover dishes with plates, tupperware or re-suable beeswax wraps.
- Have clearly marked bins available with information about what can be recycled in your area attached.
- Save containers and jars and re-use them to store dry goods, or bring them to get filled at shops that do refills. (Many markets and health stores do this as well as provide package free fruit and vegetables.)
- Repair clothes and up-cycle items, don’t throw them away. If an item is unwearable see if it can be used in another way such as cleaning cloths, napkins or craft materials.
- Start a compost system for organic waste. Your garden will love you! Don’t have room? Why not start one in your local community garden?
These are just a few tips to get you started, but there is some brilliant information out there that is a great source of inspiration. And don’t forget the five R’s; refuse, reduce, re-use, re-purpose and recycle!!!