by Taetske | 2:13 pm
(Last Updated On: October 27, 2018)

Plastic, plastic, plastic everywhere. What are we doing to our environment?

 

plastic waste

Plastic Waste

 

It seems to be a fashion wanting to wrap everything in plastic. The food industry is very good at it. Even a single onion might be presented to you in a supermarket wrapped up in plastic. When one thinks about it, this is far from logical, as most fruits and vegetables are already dressed in their own peel. The peel forms a protective barrier against heat or cold, keeps the dirt and damp out.

Why is it that humans often have the urge to improve on nature when nature has its products designed the best way? Think of it, the peel is biodegradable and most of the time you will peel the fruit before consuming it, right?. If you are so lucky to have a vegetable garden you can use the peel for composting.

 

Some data that makes one think

More than 2 million tons of plastic is generated in Spain every year. That is only one medium-sized country, counting the population density, in the world. Of this plastic 34% is recycled, 17% is burned for energy, and the leftover 49% ends up somewhere in a landfill. Half of the total amount of plastic lands on a landfill? Have you ever thought what the consequences are for doing this over many years? It takes 500 years for a water bottle to completely decompose.

In the past, it was not unusual to find that a subdivision developer bulldozed a landfill and built on top of that land. I know of a place on the Costa del Sol where this happened.  You can not see it but inside the landfill, things are happening. This mixture of wastes emit toxic fumes and whole areas were affected. The people and pets living there were reacting and getting sick at an unusually high rate. Different forms of cancer would pop up and people started saying it is unhealthy to live there.

 

A staggering amount of plastic in the oceans

The fact that 12 million tons of plastic are dumped into the sea every year is a staggering figure. This poses a severe threat to sea mammals and birds alike. They can not distinguish plastic from real food and eat plastic items like bags, toys, wrappings, lids, and similar pieces, filling their digestive systems with indigestible plastic and literally starving or chocking.

 

What you can do on a personal level

Coming back to the supermarkets where an overuse of wrapping can be observed for fruits and vegetables, it would be good if we could all rethink a bit. Take your own bags from home, like cloth-bags or nets. You can also go to the weekly market where the vegetables and fruits are presented in boxes and you decide how much you want of this.

I still have memories from my childhood when I accompanied my Mother to the weekly market in Holland. I am talking about the 1950’s. She would shop having a basket on her arm and often the goods were wrapped in the newspaper of the previous day.

 

A new kind of supermarket

In Amsterdam, Holland, a new type of supermarket has recently opened its doors. It is called Ekoplaza. This is a supermarket where glass, metal, carton and biodegradable plastic is used for wrapping the different foods. At first sight, it seems a brilliant idea but having a closer look, it is far from perfect. The so-called biodegradable plastics used in this supermarket chain still poses a danger to the environment. To meet the rules for being considered “biodegradable”, the material only needs to contain 20% of the new “real biodegradable” plastic. The remaining 80% being the same old dangerous type of plastic.

The best is to do your shopping with your own bags or baskets and not buy any plastic wrapped foods. Especially not those vegetables and fruits which were designed as having their own wrapping in form of a peel.

 

unpacked fruit and vegetables

Unpacked Fruit and Vegetables

 

A good campaign starts in Spain

In Spain, the already well-known campaign ” Desnuda la Fruta ” which means Undress the fruit, is taking off. Locally people are getting more conscious of this plastic problem. Two British citizens have started a waste reduction campaign known as Ecopassion, which is getting good press. These people have had conversations with the local water board (Acosol) and with Urbaser, a recycling plant for the Costa del Sol West. They wanted to find out the actual situation for recycling and see for themselves that not everything lands in a landfill.

These 2 people have moved around and can already boast some small but important victories. 5 Local bars who would serve their drinks with plastic straws have switched over to ones made of paper. Plastic straws are one of the many dangerous plastic items that can harm animals in the sea.

 

plastic straws

Plastic Straws

 

Some ideas

Here comes a short list with some ideas if you also would like to contribute to a cleaner planet. A planet with less harmful plastic.

Stop buying water in a bottle. In some areas, you might not like the taste of tap water but then you always have the option to buy a water filter. If you really must have bottled water, you can find water bottled in glass.

Go shopping taking your own bags along. The supermarket will sell a very well made and durable reusable plastic bag for you to put your groceries in. The next week you go shopping with the same old bag. Doing that you greatly reduce the need for unwanted plastic.

Do not buy fruits and vegetables that have a plastic wrapping. Go shopping in places where they use waxed paper for wrapping up your meat and cheese.

Buy your detergent in carton boxes and forget about the liquid soap in a plastic bottle.

If you use soap bars instead of bottles, it also helps towards a nearly plastic-free bathroom.

 

Conclusion

These are just a few tips to introduce into your daily life. If you keep the 3 R’s in mind, the reduce, reuse, and recycle. By doing this, you will help so that our planet does not get suffocated by the plastic plague.

 

Source: Newspaper Sur, July 13th, 2018. Article by Ines Gallastegui

Photos: Pixabay

 

 

Perhaps you like to read my other story on plastic, this plastic is in your food.

PHTHALATES? Do You Know What You Are Eating?

Comments

Teresa

There’s some useful tips you’ve mentioned in reducing our plastic usage.

The introduction of the 5p per bag in the UK, although slightly controversial in the beginning, has proven popular in pushing people to reuse their shopping bags and cutting down on plastic waste.

I always buy fruit and veg without the plastic wrapping and I really like your reminder of the three R’s. Great informative read.

Sep 11.2018 | 03:29 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Teresa,

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment on my post. This plastic issue is really bothering me. I also go shopping with cloth bags which are used time after time. For in the fridge I have a special type of bag which can be used for years, only wash it now and then and it keeps your fruit and vegetables fresh quite a bit longer. If we all do a little bit it would make a big impact on the world for sure.

    Regards, Taetske

    Sep 11.2018 | 04:24 pm

burleyboy

Have you heard about biodegradable plastics that are particularly sweeping Asian countries? Apparently, you can eat the “plastic” after you are done or not feel bad about throwing it away because it is made out of seaweed and other organic materials that still make it rigid but completely disposable with no problems. That is one of the things that was really on my mind as I was reading this. I wonder if there are other alternatives to the ways we produce and consume plastic goods. You give some good suggestions in your article about our limiting of plastic. Do you have any plastic alternatives that we might be able to integrate into our society?

Oct 27.2018 | 01:36 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning, sorry, but I do not know your name?

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you have downloaded your free PDF?

    What a brilliant idea to have edible wrapping, I had not heard anout that before but think it is a clever solution to the plastic problem.

    I have seen the reuse of plastic in quite a lot of places. Using plastic bottles filled with sand to then make walls for a house. Also making little boast out of plastic bottles seems to be a good idea of reusing them.

    There is a worm which can digest plastic, here is the link to my post.https://motherearthstreasures.com/unique-and-interesting-new-systems-for-bio-degradation-of-plastic.

    As to alternatives to plastic there is wood but personally I am worried too many trees are taken down already so that is not a good idea in the long run.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 28.2018 | 07:40 am

Stella

I love what you are saying here about cutting down on plastic. It is a subject dear to my heart. Especially with all of the recent warnings about the state of the environment. I dread what it could be like in a couple of decades for the children who are here now.

I always try to be environmentally friendly with my shopping and habits. But I learned something interesting lately. It pays to research how to be the most helpful. I used to toss everything I could into my recycling bag. If I was in doubt I would put it in anyway, taking the chance that it might still get recycled. But I recently learned that it is not a good practice. If you don’t follow the rules and instructions for your local recycling program, you could end up contaminating the recyclables and then they have to dump them instead.

I agree with the theme of your article that it is best to avoid the plastic in the first place. Fruits and veg don’t need to be packaged with so much excess plastic.

Great work on more awareness! 🙂

Oct 27.2018 | 01:42 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Stella,

    Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    I live in the south of Spain and in my village, there have been a lot of improvements over the years. I came to live here in 1981, in those times one did not talk or think much about the environment. The waste was dumped all in one bag in the container on the road. Now there are many containers standing next to each other. One for the carton, one for glass, one for plastics, one for organic, and one for the rest. 

    In my place I always give the small plastic bags a second use and all organic saved in the kitchen goes to the vegetable garden. Newspapers are made into bricks to light the fire. 

    I am sure I could do a lot more and whenever I discover something new I will try it out and if good adopt it into my life. We should all do a little bit like that it will have a big impact.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 27.2018 | 02:49 pm

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