At the beginning of this year, I shared with you my five new year resolutions. One of my resolutions is to reduce significantly my plastic consumption. And to be honest it is actually more difficult as I thought. As soon as you start to investigate more about this topic, you will find so many things, which contain plastic, but is actually not really obvious to us.
The plastic world – some facts
Not a week goes by in which I don’t read some new articles about how bad our plastic problem is and that plastic is ubiquitous nowadays: in the ocean, in your food, and even in your clothes. We have around 5.250.000.000.000 (5 trillion) bits of plastic in our oceans. It takes up to 500 years until plastic rots. So your plastic bottle, which you might use, will probably survive you. Every year more than 100.000 marine animals are dying slowly because of plastic pollution. And last but not least, the plastic industry generates annual sales of more than 800 billion Euros and has a corresponding strong lobby.
I guess those numbers speak for themselves. And it really bothers me why there are not already more laws and rules in place in order to improve the situation.
Why you should care
Did you know that with every dish, you eat around 100 microplastic pieces? That one tube of toothpaste can contain up to 10% microplastic? Or that even your clothes are contributing to the plastic problem?
The clothes we wear, which are made of synthetic materials or mixed fabrics, contribute to poisoning rivers, lakes, and seas. How? A study by British Plymouth University has now analyzed the amount and size of fibres that are dissolved from synthetic textiles in a conventional wash at 30 or 40 degrees Celsius. According to the study, an average wash can yield around 138,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend fabric into the water, around 496,000 fibres from pure polyester and 730,000 fibres from acrylic fabric. And as our washing machines cannot filter these, they go directly into our rivers, lakes, and oceans. The findings show synthetic fiber clothing is one of the most important sources of microplastic in waters. And the bad part of it – this is plastic you usually cannot spot with your eyes.
But at the end of the cycle, it always comes back to us humans, e.g. on our plates. Needless to say, while during that entire cycle endless animals are dying and it destroys our planet and oceans.
5 easy things everyone can do
I tested the following tips myself, and yes it requires some discipline, and certainly sometimes you just return to your habits, but hey every step counts 🙂
- For clothing and textiles, avoid synthetic fibre fabrics and use products made of natural fibres such as cotton, linen, hemp etc.
- Coffee to go: Germans consume around 320,000 disposable cups per hour. Try to have your coffee in the bar or if you need to have it to go, it is better to fill it into a reusable thermal cup. Just think about the concept of an espresso to go. Taking time to have the espresso in the bar has many other health benefits as well. It gives us a short break and slows us down from the rush of daily life.
- Drink tab water more often, it is one of our most controlled food and in most western countries it is drinkable and delicious.
- Buy food, especially fresh veggies or fruits, without plastic packaging.
- Have always a reusable bag with you. In that case, you don’t need to use plastic bags for spontaneous shopping trips.
But most importantly try to raise awareness for this topic. Talk to friends and family about this problem. If everyone just tries to reduce it a bit, we have won already a lot.
Movies about the plastic problem
In case you want to learn more about the plastic problem on our planet, I can recommend the following documentaries:
Please feel free to share more ideas how we can fight the plastic world in the comments. I am excited to hear from you.