Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 19, 2021 by Noreen Wise
With the circular economy now in full swing outside the United States, it becomes that much more clear just how many everyday items cannot be recycled. The reality is alarming. We’ll never reach zero waste unless we find innovative solutions to meet this imperative.
Further, even the plastics that can be recycled, often aren’t. Many items become litter or are tossed in a landfill. It takes 450 years for plastic bottles to decompose and 50 years for tin cans. Plastics breakdown into microplastics, which, unbelievably, land in our food supply as a result of their microscopic size slipping through water filters. On average, we humans eat 100 bits of microplastic with every meal. Microplastics cause toxicity that negatively impacts our life history.
Recycling existing plastic is highly beneficial. But, the following is a list of common plastic packaging/ additional items that cannot be recycled:
- plastic single use shopping bags
- plastic film wrap
- frozen food bags (nearly all vegetables are sold in non-recyclable bags)
- cereal box liner
- chip bags
- granola bar, candy bar and nearly all snack items wrappers
- six-pack rings
- plastic hangers
- any plastic containers that can’t be cleaned, ie toothpaste tubes
The heart of the matter. After a year of Covid and staying home, who’s pumped to go out and live? Surely, the vast majority of us are. So, let’s factor the health impact of plastic into our decision making, for surely it will have health consequences. We must be more cognizant of all the plastic we consume.
Thankfully, innovative sustainability companies have gone plastic free for our safety. According to Healthy Human, the following are the top sustainable packaging innovations of 2019:
- Loop, Returnity and Share Pack – companies that enable consumers to conveniently return packaging either by dropping off at targeted locations, or sending back in company provided totes
- Plant based packaging – plastics made from plants
- Edible packaging – typically this is seaweed, hopefully they’ll soon find additional alternatives
- Plantable packaging – contains seeds so the packaging can be planted after use
- Compostable plastic alternatives
- Minimal packaging design
- Upcycled or recycled packaging
What you can do about this. Consumers have the power to change the world by how we shop. Sustainable packaging solutions are here. All we need to do is grow the demand by purchasing the products and posting about it through social media. We must be motivated to seek out the brands packaged in recyclable material such as paper and thin cardboard, and use our wallets to influence corporations like Heinz and Coke to invest in overhauling their plastic packaging or lose their customers. If we all refuseto buy particular brands because of the packaging, corporations will make the change.
- Laundry detergent sheets wrapped in paper instead of the big plastic jugs
- Toothpaste tablets replace plastic toothpaste tubes
- Shampoo & conditioner bars, and ditch the plastic bottles
- Glass packaged condiments and soft drinks instead of plastic may cut the cancer rate dramatically
- New loop companies that package food in reusable containers; they pick up the empty containers each week when they drop off the next week’s grocery order
Let’s go! We can do this.
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