By Honey Good Guest Contributor, Harriet Simonis
With the state of our environment nowadays, it’s normal to be worried about the world our children and grandchildren will inherit. If we are not mindful of our habits now, we are essentially passing on the threats of global warming, oceans with more plastic than fish, and disease-causing toxic air to the future generations. Creating a better future starts with being educated, and knowing the source of the issues we are facing. This way, we can make the right changes now; to help make the world a better place. The fact is, we need to reduce our waste now for the sake of our grandchildren.
Today, we’ll shine a light on the issue of waste, and explore how we can make changes to our habits to leave a positive legacy for the future.
The Plastic Problem
The primary source of waste in today’s world is plastic. It is non-biodegradable, and only 9% of it is recycled – which means that the whopping majority of plastic that has been produced by humans still exists in the world today. (1)
If it’s not recycled, then where does 91% of the plastic that we use go? There are only three places it can end up – in landfills, in our oceans, or contaminating our air. Each of these causes a devastating impact on our world and our health.
Here are five reasons why reducing our waste now is important for the world we will be leaving to the future generation:
1. Plastic endangers our oceans
Every passing minute, a ton of plastic ends up in our oceans (2). It is not even necessarily coming just from areas near the coastline – no matter where you are, your waste can end up in the waters.
Plastics can be blown away while being transported to landfills. Some plastics end up in our drains, which lead to the ocean. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in our ocean than fish.
There’s even the problem of microplastics – smaller pieces of plastics that are broken down from bigger pieces, which enter our drains and go straight into the sea. It’s been said that there are more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in our galaxy.
This is enough reason to change our habits now if we still want our families to still enjoy vacations to white sand beaches and crystal blue seas.
2. Plastic enters our food chain
Fish easily mistake the plastic that is floating in our oceans as food. This means that fish are ingesting them instead of their regular diets, leading to the problem of plastics entering our food chain.
According to the University of Plymouth, 70% of all deep-sea fish have ingested plastic. In fact, plastic has been found in the bellies of one-third of all UK-caught fish. (3)
Reducing waste means less of it enters our ocean, and eventually our food chain. We choose not to eat plastic – let’s keep it that way.
3. Plastic leaks toxic chemicals into our – and our children’s – food
Plastics even pose a serious threat to our personal health and well-being, as we utilize plastic wraps to cover our food.
Plastic packaging leaks toxic BPA chemicals into our food and water, causing serious damage. Studies show that these cause severe adverse health problems like impaired immunity, congenital disabilities, and even cancer.
To reduce the amount of plastic coming into contact with your food, choose fresh food instead of pre-packaged meals.
If you want to store pre-made food, one option is to choose reusable beeswax wraps instead of plastic to avoid chemicals coming into contact with the food. Using plastic-free alternatives for the packed lunches of our kids or grandkids may have a positive impact on their health.
4. Burning plastic pollutes our air and leads to an increased risk of cancer
There are some people who, to reduce waste, resort to burning it. However, this leads to severe consequences to our health.
Burning plastic leads to toxic chemicals contaminating our air, as the process produces dioxins and furans which are shown to disrupt our hormones and can even lead to cancer and the release of styrene gas which has a negative impact on our nervous system.
Let’s learn how to use less plastic instead of burning it. This will keep our air cleaner, and create a better environment for our families to breathe cleaner.
5. Landfills produce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Waste that is stored in landfills directly contribute to global warming, as it releases greenhouse gases into the air.
Methane, which is the greenhouse gas produced by landfills, absorb the sun’s heat. Over the short term, it traps 84 times more heat in our atmosphere, as compared to carbon dioxide.
The less waste we send to our landfills, the less level of methane that is produced, which in turn will slow down climate changes.
Small changes, BIG impact
Living a zero-waste lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard. It all about refusing what you don’t need, and reducing, reusing, and recycling the things that you actually use. That’s all it takes.
What’s more – this sustainable lifestyle can do wonders for your bank account! You can save a considerable amount of money since you’ll end up buying less stuff, and stop spending money on things you don’t actually need and even harm the environment.
Reducing your waste means you directly help keep our oceans clean, protect our marine life, slow down climate change, and reduce the risk of disease for you and your loved ones.
If we don’t change the rate that we produce and consume plastic, we can only do nothing but pray for the world that the next generation will inherit. Small changes to our habits add up, and together, will make a huge difference for our world, our children, and our children’s children.
About the author: Harriet Simonis is a zero-waste enthusiast. Since she fell in love with surfing in Bali, she has wanted to work to reduce the plastic pollution in the sea. When she’s not running her eco-friendly business Bare Vida, you can find her on (or under) a surfboard.