How can a small choice like using eco friendly cleaners make an impact? The answer reduce plastic pollution, protect the environment.
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It’s time to purge single-use plastic from our cleaning rituals. After all, why clean and create more waste? There are so many great alternatives to traditional single-use cleaning products these days. Eco-friendly cleaners are packaged in recyclable glass bottles. Subscription services offer refillable plastic containers with refills shipped in compostable packaging. Plant-based sponges are non-toxic and decompose naturally. All of these zero-waste options ensure that your home is clean while cleaning our environment from plastic waste.
While it might not seem like small everyday decisions like choosing an eco-friendly cleaner are making an impact, the fact is that it is. Choosing to use refillable or compostable products instead of single-use plastic items can reduce CO2 emissions and protect marine life. And the more people that make the conscious effort to reduce our plastic waste, the faster we can move towards reaching our environmental goals together.
Reduce Plastic Pollution
While items like single-use plastic water bottles and bags are highlighted for their impact on the environment, the packaging used for cleaning products is often overlooked. Still, they make a similar impact. We throw out an estimated 35 million plastic bottles yearly and cleaning products contribute to that amount of waste.
Using eco-friendly cleaners that are packaged in reusable alternatives such as glass or bioplastics (plastic-like materials made from sugar or corn) can help minimize the amount of plastic waste that pollutes our oceans. Bioplastics decompose naturally. Glass or tin containers can be reused or recycled. And a plastic bottle that you reuse and refill can also reduce plastic waste.
Reduce Carbon Emissions
The plastic products we use and throw away every day have a big impact on our planet. It begins with the way that these items are created. Vast amounts of resources like fossil fuels and water are extracted to make plastic bottles. The production process emits greenhouse gases that can contribute to global warming. At a glance, here are a few facts about the impacts of plastic packaging production, use and disposal:
- 40% of the plastic produced worldwide is for packaging materials that are used once and discarded.
- 108 Million metric tons of CO2 are emitted yearly from plastic production.
- 17 Million barrels of oil are used yearly to make plastic bottles.
- 16 Million metric tons of CO2 were produced from incinerating plastic packaging waste in 2015.
Prevent Water Contamination
Plastic pollution is particularly harmful to our water resources because it doesn’t decompose the way that organic matter does. Items like cotton or apples can decompose in our environment within a matter of months. But, depending on the type of plastic used, some plastic items can take up to an estimated 1,000 years to decompose in landfills (and oceans). During that time those plastic products break down into pieces less than 5 millimetres long known as microplastics.
These plastic particles don’t remain in landfills. Plastic waste ends up in our rivers and large accumulations of microplastics and litter end up in our oceans. In particular, researchers estimate that there are 24.4 trillion pieces of microplastics in our oceans. These tiny pieces of plastic are ingested by marine life, making their way into our drinks and even into our own bodies.
Protect Marine Life
We dump an estimated 200 million tons of plastic into our oceans yearly. This plastic litter harms millions of marine animals. From seabirds to fish and even larger mammals like whales, millions die yearly after being entangled or ingesting plastic. Part of the reason is that eating plastics can lead to starvation. Animals might feel full after eating small pieces of plastic and not seek out other food. This, in turn, can increase their risk of death by starvation. One research group found a whale with more than 20 plastic bags and other rubbish in its stomach when it was found along the Scottish island of Skye.
Similar to how plastic waste can last in the environment for hundreds of years, plastic trash in mammals does not decompose naturally either. Wild fish that we eat ingest microplastics that remain in their bodies even after landing on our plates. This just goes to show how circular nature truly is and that we too will be affected by the threat of plastic pollution.