Plastic guilt - the struggle is real
Since lockdown everyone has been eating at home more, which means taking a trip to the supermarket more often and cooking at home. I don't know about you, but it's become a pet peeve of mine the amount of unrecyclable plastic there is in our food packaging, and it's made me think about the times I thought most plastic containers were recyclable when, much to my dismay, they're not.
An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our ocean EVERY YEAR, this bothered me so much I made a tee about it...lil plug there.
It’s not always clear what the rules are, some packaging doesn’t stipulate, some have weird symbols and tell you maybe dependant on your area and if you’re not sure, what do you do? Apparently if in doubt you should pop it in your normal bin, it may hurt a little knowing that this piece of plastic could have had a new life, but the disruption caused from putting non-recyclable plastics in recycling can cause a lot more issues down the line during sorting, just don’t let the guilt keep you up at night.
Between 2012 and 2016, there was an 84% increase in recycling being rejected because of people contaminating it with non-recyclable items.
After doing a little bit of research I just don't understand some of this unnecessary packaging and the materials used to make it, it's especially annoying when half of the packaging is recyclable and the other half isn't...like you were so close! I legitimately took a good 10 minutes finding out if my small yoghurt bottle was recyclable and found out the plastic wrap wasn't, this lead me to taking a sharp knife and digging down the side to try and remove it. I also found out that some receipts can't be recycled because they're coated with nasty chemicals that can be extremely harmful to the environment, just why?? Bottle lids need to be taken off as they're not recyclable and can cause issues when it comes to sorting, crisp packets can't be recycled, toothpaste tubes SO MUCH CANT BE RECYCLED.
A part of me didn't want to look into this further because I know I'm guilty of making so many recycling mistakes and it genuinely makes me feel so bad, especially being at home more and seeing how one household can produce so much waste! I understand that companies want to save money by using these materials or they may want their packaging to look prettier or, as my engineer boyfriend suggested, it could be the way machines are built to process the packaging.
I get it, things aren't going to change overnight and some of these materials are necessary, but there's definitely ways we can improve the situation.
FUN FACT: McDonalds paper straws are not recyclable, so there was literally no reason to make them paper apart from the PR...
Big changes are in motion, more brands are adopting plastic free packaging, shops are introducing plastic free buying meaning you refill jars of loose produce and even takeaways have started ditching the Styrofoam tubs!
Look, I'm not saying I'm going to completely change my life overnight, it would be extremely difficult to cut out plastic completely! And although it's ultimately us who buys and dispose of our waste, we can't take all the blame, the confusion over different materials/symbols, what's accepted in your area, general education and everyday products all contribute to what we buy and how we recycle.
This wasn't meant to be preachy as I'm certainly not perfect but there are definitely ways to improve, shop greener, research what goes where in your area and just be a tad more mindful.
Fancy learning a little more and taking a 'Can I recycle it quiz' give it a go here
I know, I'm really sad, but little tweaks to our lifestyle can have a big impact!
Artful Sonder xoxo