In the 21 st century, our planet is being flooded with waste. Some of the largest contributors to those amounts are single-use items, which we only use for a few seconds or minutes before discarding them. A lot of resources are also needed to produce every product and if it is then only used for
a brief time, that amount does not pay off.
Single-use items can be avoided, though, with the use of reusable alternatives, and we can prevent a lot of environmental damage in this way.
The worst kind of single-use items…
The most polluting kinds of single-use items are plastic ones. Studies show that out of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced since plastic first started being mass-produced, only 9% are recycled. This means that the absolute majority of it ends up in landfills or the natural environment, where it takes potentially hundreds of years to decompose, all the while releasing microscopic
particles of plastic – microplastics – into the environment.
Besides polluting the natural environment with tons of litter and microplastics, single-use plastics are also a physical danger to sea life. Fish and other marine animals can get entangled in these items, leading to injury or death. If they also ingest plastic particles, they can get a false feeling of being full and starve – this is intensified if they also swallow microplastics, which can tie many
different toxic substances to themselves.
…but that’s not the only problem
However, the issue does not end with plastic. Paper can also be very damaging, even though it is not as polluting as plastics, because of the resources it takes to create and the limitations in paper recycling. We should not forget that paper production is responsible for deforestation and air
pollution (above all the release of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and carbon dioxide).
Paper should, therefore, not be seen as a solution to the problem with single-use items but rather as a less harmful option. Thankfully, the range of options does not end with paper, and there are still many more sustainable options.
Reusable alternatives for the win!
You no longer have to rely on single-use items in your home, whether that is to clean your kitchen or make your coffee. Reusable alternatives are the perfect option, which will reduce your environmental impact significantly.
For example, if you are looking for an alternative to plastic shopping bags (aren’t we all), Japanese- style bento bags are the perfect option. Made from sustainable cotton, these bags can be washed and reuse over and over again for all your bag needs. If you can’t imagine a morning without a cup of dripped coffee, you can substitute single-use coffee filters with a great reusable alternative made of cotton.
Or maybe you are having trouble giving up paper towels – why not make the switch to a reusable cotton option?
This article was written by: Luce Stepankova
Edited by: Dru Marais