I’m sick of watching my food suffocate under too much plastic packaging. I also no longer want to pay to have it recycled when I know we could just not produce it in the first place. Here we look at whats happening with micro-beads and see if there are some lessons we can borrow.
The structure of this article is as follows:
- The Problem With Too Much Plastic Packaging
- Lessons from Micro-beads
- On the Shoulder’s of (Tiny?) Giants
- Applying this to Plastic Packaging
- Bonus: The Economic Sense of Less Packaging
The Problem With Too Much Plastic Packaging
Everyone knows that moment when recycling day comes around.
We look at the bags STUFFED with single use plastic and we think: “Hell yeah! I’m really good at this recycling thing. This is good waste right?”
But you can’t shake that nagging feeling that maybe everything isn’t all right.
Why is there this crazy amount of plastic wrapping on my food and products anyway? Surely they could have used half the amount or made it out of something that is going to take less than 100,000 years to break down?
Do you also ever think that you are PAYING to have it recycled when you pay your counsel tax?
Wouldn’t it be better to not create the waste in the first place rather than sort it out at the end?
Lessons From Micro-beads
You know those tiny balls in your cosmetics designed to scrape your face off? They are called micro-beads and are a gigantic pain in the ass from the moment you get soapy.
These beads are too small for the filters in the treatment plants and end up in the effluent that then gets pumped into our waterways once it’s been treated.
A conservative estimate states that as much as 800 TRILLION of these plastic pieces are dumped into the wild from the USA alone… 800 TRILLION. (Here)
They are so small they become bio-available to the marine life who confuse them for food, releasing toxins which harm the host and can build up to the point where they choke the the fish completely.
Bad. Bad. Triple Bad.
On the Shoulders of (Tiny?) Giants
So how does this relate to our problem of too much plastic packaging?
Due to the fact that micro-beads are too small to filter out of the ocean once they are in there, the new plan is to stop them getting into the water system in the first place.
How? By imposing bans and regulations on cosmetic producers. Some of the proposed bans are to stop the use of micro-beads in any cosmetic that is intended to end it’s life down your drain.
By heading up the supply chain instead of trying to orchestrate an impossible clean up operation we can stop the issue occurring at the source.
Applying this to Plastic Packaging
Instead of producing, consuming and disposing of a ridiculous amount of single use plastic packaging lets go to the source and change how things are done.
Why pay the council to sort and separate everything when we can prevent the waste being created in the first place.
PREVENTION rather than CURE is much better than a post-event clean up.
Lets learn from the victories of the anti-micro-bead campaign and apply it to all other areas of waste in our lives instead of blindly accepting things as if they are meant to be.
Bonus: The Economic Sense of Less Packaging
As you reduce the quantity of raw materials needed to produce each product, your variable costs will fall.
Unnecessary packaging is EATING into your bottom line. Cut the plastic and free your produce.
Notice the bold above… no one is saying ALL packaging is bad. There are practical decisions to make.
Take a cucumber for instance… According to INCPEN (Industry Council for Research on Packing and the Environment) without packaging a cucumber will loose too much water to be in a fit condition for sale within three days.
However, just 1.5g worth of plastic wrap is enough to keep that cucumber good to go for up to TWO WEEKS.