Not long ago, I wrote an article about plastic pollution. In that piece, I spoke about the awfulness of plastic pollution and mentioned that awareness was the first step towards a fix, at least for a country such as the one we live in. To read that article, click the link below.
We have been aware long enough, it’s time now for some action. In this article, I will take you through the terror that is single-use plastic.
Single-use plastic refers to any form of plastic that is used only once before it is discarded. The word ‘use’ appears twice in the preceding sentence, and it helps introduce the idea that the problem of single-use plastic is one that belongs to the consumer. That idea isn’t incorrect; the role of the consumer in plastic pollution has been on the rise over the last few years.
Organizations that manufacture plastic products are now as recycle-friendly as they could be. They have strict recycling policies in place, mostly because we won’t allow them to rest otherwise, but more importantly, they advise and expect consumers to re-use or recycle their products.
It is teamwork of sorts; we make the stuff (because we have to), but after you use the stuff be kind enough to either reuse it or discard it properly so that our planet doesn’t die of plastic pollution. But, after finishing that Coke Zero, you’ll still fling the bottle somewhere the chances of it being discovered by the recycling companies or zobo-bottle scouts are significantly reduced. Recycle Zero, Re-use Zero. And that is how you have slowly become a major stakeholder in plastic pollution.
When I was young, I was fascinated by the level of importance my mother attached to storing plastic bags. Her kitchen had an entire cabinet full of the stuff. If you were a good-looking, fit plastic bag, then there was no escaping my mother’s cabinet. For her, there was no such thing as too many plastic bags. But she wasn’t an anti-pollution activist, nor was she looking to inspire her children to be more proactive about saving the planet. She simply believed in the economic advantages of re-use. Why discard something that’s still in top condition just because you’ve used it once?
My mother’s cabinet is just one of the many re-use structures you’re sure to find in homes across the country. Add to that the thousands of Pepsi and Aquarite bottles that are regularly reconverted to carry zobo, kunu, and groundnuts and you begin to see that our re-use policy is more than just an economic shortcut; it is a cultural legacy. Of the three Rs of recycling (Reduce, Re-use and Recycle), it is the most straightforward for us.
But how frequently do you re-use plastic products?
I have met people who refuse to buy zobo because they believe that the plastic bottles were picked up from gutters and trash cans. But, was it not you who dumped the bottle in the trash can? As you already know where the bottle will end up, why don’t you just take it there?
The plastic bag the New Flava waiter used to pack your meal to-go this morning, hope you know that nothing will happen to you if, after use, you keep it for the next time you go there?
If you’re guilty of being a participant in the terrible one-night stand that is single-use plastic and you’re thinking that it maybe won’t be such a bad idea to tone it down a bit, here’s a bit of an action point for you.
Before purchase, ask yourself ‘Do I absolutely, absolutely need this plastic product?’
If the answer is no, walk away.
If it’s yes, ask yourself ‘After use, am I willing to dispose this product in a recycle bin where I’m at least 90% certain that a recycle agency will pick up my plastic waste for recycling?’
If the answer is yes, make your purchase.
If it’s no, ask yourself ‘Am I willing to come up with a creative way to re-use this product?’
If the answer is yes, then make your purchase.
If it’s no, then please walk away. Go back there when you have either found a recycle bin or come up with a way to re-use the product.
It might not look like a lot, but it is playing your part, it is being proactive, and it makes a difference.
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