Plastic is a material that was developed as recently as 1907, but its use has risen exponentially. Now, quite suddenly people have started to realize just how much damage it is doing to the environment. The hard truth is that plastic pollution is very real and while single-use plastics may be small, they have a very large impact on the environment. As time goes by, plastic will fall apart into smaller pieces known as microplastics, and will never completely biodegrade. These microplastics are quickly transforming our waters into plastic soup, and scientists report that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. 80% of all ocean pollution is a result of land-based waste (litter) and 8 million tonnes of this waste found in the ocean is plastic, which is damaging marine ecosystems, harming marine mammals as well as the human food chain.
Plastic acts like a magnet for various chemicals found in the sea, attracting pollutants such as nonylphenol and phenanthrene to them. When marine creatures consume these microplastics, the chemicals are absorbed by them and end up in their tissues. Later, when this fish appears on our dinner plate, we consume the chemicals that they have absorbed from the microplastics. However, eating fish is not the only thing bringing microplastics into our lives. Polyester clothes, plastic furniture and other plastic-based items that surround us in daily lives have also been proven to produce microplastics into the air due to the effects of UV light, heat and natural processes. We breathe them in and consume them without ever noticing their existence, which causes damage to our lungs, poison to our kidneys and even interferes with our hormones.
However, if people actively refused to use plastic, there would be no more demand for it, which will ultimately result in a clean and healthy planet by preventing the outcome of plastic pollution to the air, water, and land. This can be done on an individual level by “Going Green”, a phrase that essentially means choosing to live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. When you “Go Green” you gain knowledge and adopt habits that lead to environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible choices and ways of living which help to protect the environment and sustain its natural resources.
Luckily, there are simple alternatives to everyday plastic products that you can easily implement into your life.
2. Plastic Bags – Throughout the globe, one trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year. Within this time more and more bags are ending up as litter, harming the environment. Once the bags become litter, they find their way into our streets, waterways, and beaches. About 100,000 different species are killed every year because of plastic bags, most commonly by injection as they believe the bags to be a source of food.
Solution: Keep a selection of reusable bags in your car when you go shopping. Switching to reusable bags are a great way to ensure you won’t take home an abundance of Earth harming plastic bags from the supermarket. Reusable bags are designed to have a longer life and are more practical than single-use plastic bags.
3. Plastic Water Bottles – Many plastic bottles contain the chemical Bisphenol A, (BPA). High BPA exposure has been linked to infertility and other health problems such as heart disease, fetal brain development, type 2 diabetes increase in body weight, asthma, breast, and prostate cancer. Exposing plastic bottles to heat, such as sunlight or warming up in a car, leak harmful chemicals into the water in the bottle which has been proven to alter hormones. When you drink that water, you ingest these particles, which in our body mistakes for hormones, producing less hormones and lower testosterone levels in men.
Solution: Carry a stainless steel bottle with you. Not only do they keep your beverage hot or cold longer than any plastic bottle, but they are also beneficial to your health and nature.
4. Plastic Cutlery – Many disposable plastic cutlery are toxic and contain chemicals that are harmful to your children, especially to children who suffer from allergies and asthma, have sensitivities to certain toxins.
Solution: Swap for something long-lasting and durable. Plant based cutlery is very popular nowadays due to their environmentally friendly features, the main reason being bamboo’s amazing growth rate. It is the fastest growing plant on Earth, more specifically a grass, which allows it to be cut without killing the plant. After being cut, the bamboo will continue to grow at a fast rate while absorbing carbon dioxide, and produce up to 35% more oxygen than other plants, making it widely used among eco-conscious individuals.
5. Plastic Toothbrushes – Billions of plastic toothbrushes that will never biodegrade are dumped in landfills and oceans every year worldwide.
Solution: Swapping disposable plastic toothbrushes for a biodegradable version is a great and easy way to start living a green life. Waking up in the morning and using a bamboo toothbrush is a constant reminder to try not to use plastic throughout the day and last just as long as a conventional plastic toothbrush.
For your convenience, we’ve come out with our own line of environmentally friendly products to prevent future pollution to our beautiful island. If you’d like to make the switch from plastic, be sure to check out our online Eco Shop where you can find your own solutions to cut down on your plastic waste. With your support, you allow us to continue our mission to make Cyprus green. Together we can make a difference!