Here we are, July, summer holidays for half of the planet but also, the month when we stand up to fight plastic pollution. The very idea of creating the movement Plastic Free July to raise awareness and consciousness is extremely sad. But unfortunately it is also necessary. It’s not about stopping using plastic for just one month, it’s about informing and highlighting once again the ecological disaster linked to plastic pollution. But before we talk about possible solutions to the impact of plastic pollution on the environment and our lives, let’s have a look at the situation.
Plastic pollution in numbers
Plastic production since its early days
Since 1950, our lives have been littered with this material that is as harmful to our health as it is to the environment – plastic. In 1950, just over one ton of plastic was produced. Today… over 400 million. And while you might think that the trend would be for these figures to decrease as environmental awareness grows, not so. According to this Jobsense article, we will reach 600 million tonnes of plastic produced in 2030. That’s just nine years away.
Recycling plastic, a limited and insufficient solution
Is recycling plastic a solution? Knowing the impact of plastic on the environment, one would think that alternatives to plastic or recycled plastic would be preferred from now on. I would like to say yes. Unfortunately, only 9% of plastic is currently recycled. 12% is incinerated. And 79% ends up in the ocean and the environment. Moreover, plastic can only be recycled up to 2 times.
This does not mean that we should stop recycling, far from it. But the best solution is to use other materials such as glass or metal.
Where does France stand?
In France, the amount of plastic waste per person per year is 66.6 kg. A staggering figure when you consider that the recycling rate is 23%. This puts France in 23rd place out of 30 European countries. (Source: myboocompany)
This waste consists mainly of plastic packaging and single-use plastics such as cutlery, glasses, straws, plates, etc.
What are the solutions to tackle plastic pollution?
Say no to plastic
There are several ways to fight plastic pollution at your level. Firstly, support alternatives to plastic. A simple example (don’t ask me how I came up with this example!), you want to buy a broom. Choose the wooden one vs. the plastic one. Shower gel vs soap, solid soap (without plastic packaging of course). And so on.
Yes plastic is everywhere. But the majority of the time, in western countries, its alternatives are also available.
As mentioned I don’t know how many times on this blog, our best weapon to fight against global warming and therefore plastic pollution is our wallet. By buying this or that product, we are making a choice to support this or that practice or industry. And above all, don’t wait for others to do it first. If we all think this way, nothing will change.
Do not try to adopt a zero waste lifestyle overnight
This is the best way to stop after a few days. Like anything else, to keep good habits for the long term, you have to take it at your own pace and little by little. There are so many aspects of your life where you can make an impact. Focus on one at a time and then implement another.
For example, you can set a goal of having a zero waste bathroom within 6 months. 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes are consumed worldwide per year. In France, 1400 tons of toothbrushes are thrown away every year and not recycled (source: myboocompany). A good reason to switch to bamboo toothbrushes, no? There are now some with refillable heads for even less waste.
You can also tackle the kitchen or your sustainable impact in society. The possibilities are endless. Plastic pollution is a plague but we can stop it. We not only need governments, but we can also reduce our environmental impact on our own scale.
Spread information and raise awareness about ecological solutions to plastic pollution
Spreading information and raising awareness about the importance of protecting our planet is what we try to do via this blog and our social networks. On our scale, with our means. We may only reach a few hundred people, a few thousand at best, but that is still a small part of the population that is informed and can in turn act.
The same goes for plastic pollution. We hear about it all the time, but how many of us actually look into it and do something about it? The question is where to start. You too can share your knowledge with others and the actions you are taking against plastic in your daily life. On our side, we continue to share with you articles on how to travel and live sustainably. And during the whole month of July I will be offering articles dedicated to plastic pollution. Either informative articles or articles with solutions that you can adopt at your own pace. Of course, if these articles are useful to you, don’t hesitate to share them because it means that they can be useful for other people too.
The role of NGOs and associations in the fight against plastic pollution
There are many NGOs and associations involved in the fight against plastic pollution. Don’t hesitate to find out about their actions and maybe even participate in them. Many of them organise waste collection days on the beach or even in town.
Your moral and financial support is also very important. These people face this plague on a daily basis and their work is precious. Therefore, whether it is morally via a message on social networks, an email, a meeting or financial support, do not hesitate to show them that their actions count and are recognised. Amongst the best known NGOs and associations, you will find Surfrider Foundation, 4Ocean, 10 Waste Challenge or Ocean Clean Up.
As usual, if you have Pinterest I invite you to save this article to find it easily!
One only has to look at the weather conditions of the last few days (extreme temperatures in Canada, hail storms in the Vosges mountains in France, etc) to realise that global warming is not a myth and we will all be impacted if we do not take action soon. Fighting plastic pollution is one of the most important challenges we can take on.