Humans have produced about 8 billion tons of plastic since 1950 and more than half of it went straight to landfills. Of all of the plastic that’s no longer in use, only about 9% was actually recycled. Much of the plastic that isn’t recycled or sent to landfills is believed to end up in the ocean.
Scientists estimate that 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons enter the ocean in a year.Global plastic waste disposal has changed over time: there was virtually no recycling of plastics prior to 1980, while in 2015, an estimated 20% was recycled.
Even so, the trend indicates that recycling would increase to only 44% by 2050, researchers say. In 2016, India was only next to the United States in the list of largest plastic waste producers in the world. Here are some simple ways to prevent waste at home. Cutting down on waste can be as simple as these five steps.
Reduce your single-use plastic
Say no to unnecessary single-use plastics like straws and plastic cutlery. Invest in a few good quality reusable items – a reusable water bottle, a keep cup, reusable shopping bags and lunch containers. It doesn’t take much effort to make a big dent in the amount of single-use plastic you’re sending to landfill and into the environment.
Buy items with the least packaging
While some packaging is required for food safety, many items are packaged for convenience and presentation. Choosing to buy items free from unnecessary packaging is a great way to reduce your waste and support brands that are actively reducing theirs. Fruits and vegetables are a good example – if there is an unwrapped option, choose that one. If not, check if the packaging can be recycled or composted at home.
Buy in bulk
Items like chips, nuts, crackers and yoghurt sold in multi-packs (packaged in single-serves) creates a lot of unnecessary waste, so why not buy a bigger bag and divide the contents into reusable containers or jars at home. Some stores will even allow you to fill your own containers – which means you shop waste-free.
Think twice before you buy new
With so many low-cost goods available, many of us buy new items without thinking carefully about whether we really need them. If we do decide to buy, it’s important to consider whether the product is designed to last a long time and be easily repaired or to be ‘unmade’ after use and the materials either made into something new or returned to nature. This is the kind of thinking that will take us closer to a circular economy system.
Buy recyclable and recycled where possible
Choosing recyclable products and packaging and recycling them is an easy way to cut waste. In order for recycling systems to be effective, there has to be a market for recycled goods. So the other way you can recycle is by opting to purchase products and packaging made from recycled materials – there are many of these coming up so keep an eye out when you’re shopping and choose recycled.