[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Recently, there’s a steaming trend of banning plastic-based disposable products to reduce the plastic waste pollution, especially plastic straws. Major corporations such as Starbuck, Aramark, and American Airlines; and major cities such as San Francisco and Seattle has started the plastic straw ban policy.
Here in Malaysia, McDonalds has started a cut on plastic straws since August 1st, which only will be given if the customer requested for it. Before this, we’re not a stranger of this plastic-problem consciousness, as the Selangor state government prohibited free distribution of plastic bag in supermarket, thus encouraging people to bring their own reusable bag when shopping.
This anti-plastic straws movement started way back in 2015 when a video of a Texas A&M graduate student went viral. The video was taken during Christine Figgener’s research trip in Costa Rica when she noticed something was encrusted inside the nose one of the the male turtles.
At first, she thought that it was some kind of parasite but upon further inspection, it was found out that it was actually a plastic straw stuck in his nose. They removed it, hoping that the removal might give him some more breathing time on Earth.
But does banning plastic straws will be enough to cut the plastic pollution?
Now is the time to ditch all kinds of plastic
The truth is, straws are only the small tip of all the trash heap of the plastics that humans made.
Banning single-use straws might not be an effective method, but at least it is a good start, considering the prediction of by 2050, there will be more plastics in the ocean than the fishes.
Out of the million pounds of plastic waste that we discard everyday, only 9% of it actually get recycled, 12% end up in incinerators and other 79% of all will end up in the landfills or get stuck in the natural world.
Countries such as South Korea. Australia, China, United Kingdom, and Chile has started disallowing the usage of single-use plastic products such as plastic bags and disposable coffee cups.
Even the Queen herself has barred plastic straws and bottles to be used at the royal estates, as an exemplary move to promote cutting the use of plastic.
Where do plastics come from?
Surprisingly, plastic is derived from natural crude oil, which is processed through fractional distillation, breaking down it many other products such as gasoline (petrol), diesel, gas, naphtha and kerosene. Naphtha is one of the crucial compound for plastic production. Read more about types of plastics here.
Despite their origin from the nature, after going through chemical structural modification has made the polymers inside the plastic never be truly recyclable.
This unrecyclable trait of plastics has made them the 99.9% of the rubbish heap of whooping 79 thousand tons floating somewhere around Hawaii and California.
What we can do to reduce our own carbon footprint?
There are various ways we can do to help reducing our plastic waste per capita.
1.Stop using plastic straws and cutleries in restaurant. Insist the waiter/waitress to serve your drinks without any straws and if possible avoid from using plastic cutleries. Alternatively, you can bring your own metal or glass straw which can is available in almost online shopping portal.
Metal and glass straws sold online are cheap and usually paired up with their cleaning utensils, which will make your life easier.
2.Bring your own takeout box. If you are at the office, or your university, and always “tapau” your food from restaurant, it is the best if you can bring your own lunchbox or food container. Some restaurant also cut the price if you bring your food container for takeout!
3.Bring reusable bag when you go shopping. The famous Ikea iconic blue reusable bag is sold at a very cheap price! Or you can reuse the plastic bag from the last time you went shopping!
4.If you are a fan of Starbucks, you can buy their tumblers and bring them to get your daily coffee fix(and save some bucks too!). Fill your tumblers with water and refrain from buying mineral water in single use plastic bottle.
5.Recycle. Locate your neighbourhood recycling center and make sure to hand in any recyclable plastic container at your place. Some centers will usually pay you few cents for each plastic that you give them. Maybe it’s not that much, but at least we can save the planet and gain some pennies when recycling!
6.Support the non-profit environmental organisations. You can volunteer, donate or even buy the products they sell to fund to their cause in saving the planet. For example, 4Ocean is selling bracelets that are made from the debris and trash they collected from the ocean. With every purchase of the bracelet, you are funding one pound of trash removal from the ocean!
Running recycling effort or even starting a business for recycling can be a very meaningful contribution to the society. The business could survive in the long run if we can add value to the society .
Although following these steps will cut down our plastic wastage, but we are still a long way to go from achieving sustainable ecosystem where humans and nature can live harmoniously with each other. So, do not stop only from practicing these steps but give your all to save our environment!