Single Use Plastic: The Low Down
We know it can be overwhelming finding the right information on single use plastic with lots of numbers, opinions and general info thrown around, so we're here to make it simple.
A very big player in this eco friendly game is fossil fuels which we use both as a fuel and a material to make plastics. Fossil fuels are... fossils. Ancient bits of plants compressed for millions of years. Once they're used up they’re gone. Like many natural resources humans have discovered, we got excited and used them for everything and in a very short period of time we became so dependent that we forgot what life was like without them when eco friendly products were what we naturally relied on.
Single use plastics’ damaging effects are rapidly becoming common knowledge. The rise of plastic use (namely plastic bags) really only exploded in the late 70’s/ early 80’s which is not long ago at all when you consider the destruction it has already caused. However, for some people this is longer than they have been alive, so we never got to experience life before plastic-dependence. Plastic free products have been the minority during our whole upbringing so how do we begin living plastic free if we were never taught how? Don't worry - we've got your back!
When deciding to change to a greener lifestyle, we must not feel guilty for our previously learned behaviour. Having grown up reliant on plastic is sadly very normal for us. It is all we have ever known and there is a reason for that. When plastic bags left Europe and went international in 1979 plastic companies were so aggressive with their marketing that people became convinced it was superior, and without any knowledge of plastic’s negative effects, how were they to know any better? These generations became our teachers and role models and therefore we have never had the chance to know any different. ‘Convenience’, ‘ease’, ‘strength’, ‘versatility’, were things that we have been taught to crave from our products, and plastic could give us that.
A massive change in consumer behavior happened when supermarkets switched from clerks to self-service and introduced the TV dinner. Plastic wrap made all of this possible (originally made of wood-derived cellulose and unfortunately changed to petroleum-based PVC in the 60’s). As people got hooked on time saving, pre-packaged products, big business jumped on the opportunity and cashed in sending us into this ultra-dependent loop of plastic reliance we are currently trapped in.
It’s useful to look at our history with plastic to remember that it is possible to live a happy, easy plastic free life. Admittedly, in our present world, it’s challenging to avoid because it has infiltrated every market and has found a role to play in every aspect of our lives. So how do we escape the stuff? As the environmental living trend grows, so does the abundance of solutions however the change must come from individuals and the way we embrace our important role as consumers. Plastic is only produced because we keep breathing life into it, and praising it for the convenience it provides us. Learning how to sidestep it is simple but may seem tedious in the early stages. Hang in there through the “tough” times and enjoy the process of cleansing and simplifying your life. Remember that this single lifestyle change has massive positive effects on your health and your environment and is a vital part in the ripple of positive change that will cure this planet of this plastic disease.
Regularly reminding ourselves why we are reducing our footprint helps with our motivation. Learning about the damage it is doing to the ocean, the soil, wildlife, our food sources and our own bodies is incredibly important. If everybody knew about the health implications that come from drinking out of plastic water bottles or heating up food in plastic containers, I am sure that nothing could persuade you to do it. ‘Safer’ plastics are coming onto the market but there really is no ‘safe’ plastic made from fossil fuels. Not safe for our bodies, not safe for the environment where they eventually end up. This is why we folk at My Eco House support products that are made from nature, can be reused many times, and eventually turn back into the earth at the end of their life cycle. There is an organic, planet safe way to do anything you want to do so just relax, go for the ride and be open to learning, changing and growing as you step up and settle into an environmentally sustainable way to live. The unknown is your friend and so are we.