Reasons For Reducing Your Plastic Footprint
This time, for a change, we have a guest blog article which is not about one of our suppliers. Instead, Sean, one of our lovely customers, shares his thoughts about reducing your plastic footprint. A very interesting read!
Reasons for reducing your plastic footprint
With overall awareness of plastic pollution increasing, and the effect it is having on the world around us, many of us are looking for ways to reduce our plastic footprint.
That is, the amount of plastic we use, and then throw away.
In this blog, we’re going to be focusing on the reasons behind this drive for plastic reduction in daily life – the macro and micro effects of plastic debris on marine animals, the carbon footprint of fossil based plastic, and how plastic pollution is impacting coral reefs around the world.
Microplastics are pieces of plastic that are less than 5mm in size, in all dimensions.
Below 100 nanometers in size, and plastic pieces are known as nanoplastics.
Microplastics (and nanoplastics) can be either primary or secondary. Primary microplastics have been formed to be the size they are.
Nurdles, PET glitter and microfibres in clothing are three examples of commonly produced primary microplastics.
When microplastics enter the marine environment, they are ingested by the organisms at the bottom of the oceanic food chain (usually zooplankton).
Through the trophic transfer of microplastics, microplastic content accumulates up the food chain, all the way up to large predators. This includes us – we are, in effect, eating the same plastic waste we threw away.
Microplastics have been studied to kill immune cells three times faster than immune cells that had no contact with plastic particles. With this knowledge, human and animal immune systems globally could slowly be getting more and more compromised, with the increase of microplastics entering our food chain.
Nanoplastics are small enough to build up in the bloodstream, accumulate in vital organs, and pass through the blood brain barrier.
It has been studied that, because of the last point concerning the blood brain barrier, animals have had their behaviour changed by ingesting high enough levels of nanoplastics.
Plastic is, in effect, mind controlling.
When it comes to how zooplankton, and phytoplankton, are effected by ingesting microplastic particles, the results show a negative change in their capacity to deal with atmospheric carbon.
Both of these organisms play a vital role in the continued productivity of the ocean, as the world’s largest carbon sink.
Without the functionality of the oceanic carbon sink being optimized, it decreases the chance of keeping global temperatures from increasing beyond the point of no repair.
The Fossil Footprint Of Plastic
Conventional plastics such as PET, HDPE and PVC are all produced from fossil fuels.
This leads to high carbon footprints being produced in the manufacture of fossil based plastic. This level of emissions, is again, reducing the chance of damage limitation when it comes to climate disruption.
There are alternatives to fossil based plastic which have the same characteristics, and in some cases, the same molecular structure as their fossil counterparts.
Bio based bioplastics have reduced carbon footprints in production due to the raw material being biological, and not fossil. Examples for bioplastic products for trade are the Hydrophil toothbrush bristles which are made from plant based castor oil.
Bio based polyethylene is a good example of this.
It has the same molecular structure, can be disposed of in the same waste streams as conventional PE, and has the same characteristics. The only difference is that Bio based PE is produced from renewable resources – sugar cane in some cases.
Coral Reefs And Plastic Pollution
The above two points are commonly talked about when it comes to reasons for choosing alternatives to conventional plastic, and reducing your plastic footprint. A less commonly talked about victim of plastic pollution are the coral reefs of the world.
Playing a key part in the oceanic circle of life via fixing nitrogen, there are many organisms that primarily depend on coral reefs for survival. After this first layer of primary dependence, comes the many organisms that depend on those organisms as well.
By capturing molecular nitrogen in the ocean, and converting it into usable products that can be used by other plants locally, coral reefs are the backbone of the marine society.
Plastic polluted coral reefs have been shown to have increased disease rates, compared to reefs that had not come into contact with plastic. A study found that 89% of coral reefs polluted with plastic were diseased, compared to just 4% of those that were not.
This sharp rise is due to many items of plastic debris containing hydrophobic disease carrying microbes, which are then released into the coral when the plastic abrades the ‘skin’ of the reef.
There are many reasons to want to reduce your plastic footprint, and it’s a great way to be environmentally progressive in thinking.
We, as a business, do everything possible to minimise plastic content in our entire range of eco-friendly gifts, as well as the packaging they come in.
With this blog, you’ve hopefully had an outline of several reasons as to why reducing plastic in daily life will help the environment.
In the future, drastic action will need to be taken by governments around the world, if the situation does not improve.
If we all play our part in individually reducing our plastic footprint, hopefully we can achieve environmental longevity together, without a need for a plastic pollution ‘doomsday’ plan.