10 Million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. To translate that into something more understandable, the plastic amounts to more than 40 billion plastic bottles each year. That is more than 1 garbage truck load every minute.
When I first read this statistic I could not grasp the magnitude of this number.
A plastic bag has an average life span of just 15 minutes. Another quick fact: half of the plastic that is thrown into the ocean is single use plastic. And according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. The plastic polluting the ocean contaminates waterways and poses major risks to people, marine life and the environment.
As an individual there are many things you can do to limit the use of plastic:
- Bring your own bag -
When going grocery shopping, always remember to bring your own bag. We recommend a tote bag which can look cute and is also very sustainable. It is all about getting this (new) habit into your system. The first few times you still might forget your own bag but the more conscious you are, the quicker it becomes normal to always bring your own bag when (grocery) shopping. When purchasing your tote bag (if you haven’t already), look for companies that sustainably create their bags and keep an eye out on these keywords: 100% recycled fabric, organic fabric and the use of no-dyed fabric.
- Take care of when you use plastic -
There are some instances that you feel plastic needs to be used. For example; when you have a picnic in the park the use of plastic forks, plates and cups is commonly used as it’s a more simple and easy choice. Next time, try taking your own cutlery (if you don’t have enough, ask a friend to bring theirs too). Or consider purchasing a pack of bamboo cutlery and cups, that will be specially used for events like a picnic.
- Drink water from your tap -
Did you know one plastic bottle can take 450 years to decompose? It's hard to grasp the time it takes to decompose just one plastic bottle.
Personally, I am lucky that in The Netherlands, where we have super clean tap water and don’t need to purchase water in plastic bottles. If you can’t drink water from the tap in your country, try to avoid buying water in small plastic bottles. Instead, look at getting a large water dispenser. It might be a higher initial investment but over time you will be spending less money, while being much more sustainable.
- Shop wisely -
Before you buy something, do take a moment to think if you really need it. If the answer is ‘yes, I need this’, make sure you buy from trust sources that focus on sustainability.
At Queen Scrunchie we try to be as sustainable as possible. We are changing our business to only use the right materials to create sustainable products and are transparent about our mission and what we need to change in our business to be more sustainable corresponding with a due date. It’s important to make a conscious decision when shopping, especially taking the time to research the company, how and where they create their products, making sure their workers are paid and supported with your company standards in mind and use no to limited water and chemicals to create their products.
- Reuse the packaging your new items are in -
It’s common when purchasing items these days that they come with packaging in the form of plastic and paper. When purchasing from a company, research whether they use environmentally friendly packaging. I completed my own study and noticed that 85% of all products online and in stores are included in throw-away packaging.
If the product is necessary, try reusing the packaging in different ways: covering your books or use as wrapping paper, use to create paper art or drawing paper, create a compost or recycling container, use as gift tags.
- Spread the word -
Probably the most important thing to do is to spread the word yourself. You can educate your friends and family to be more sustainable and by doing this, together we can all influence a lot of people all over the world to consume less and to consume more wisely.
There still will be cases where you will use single use plastics. When you do, just make sure that these plastics are collected for recycling together with other types of plastics so they can be reused.
Let us know if you try these tips! Or if you have some other tips we didn't mention, please share.