Which is better for the planet: recycling plastics or replacing them with more sustainable natural solutions?
Recently there’s been a big push towards recycled plastic as a way to reduce pollution and make better use of our non-renewable resources. But is this the best way forward for a sustainable future? Or should we be changing our habits and replacing plastics where we can?
I believe we need to replace plastics wherever possible.
Plastic is unnecessary.
…at least in many areas of our lives. While plastic may still be needed for medical and scientific applications (where alternative materials may not be desirable due to difficulties with cleaning or insufficient strength), many of our ordinary household items don’t need to be made of plastic. Take the Kitchen Scourer for example. Why would we replace this item with a recycled plastic scourer when there are natural alternatives? Since there are sustainable alternatives like coconut fibre that actually work better, is it really a good use of our resources to recycle plastics for kitchen scourers?
Most plastics are non-biodegradable.
Although greater awareness and concern for the environment has seen a massive increase in recycling, many plastic items still end up in landfill each year. If each person in Australia alone threw out just one nylon scourer that would be 24 million petrochemical products entering the waste system. These plastics never truly break down; they simply break into smaller and smaller microscopic pieces that remain forever in our environment. Why not choose a natural, biodegradable alternative?
Recycling plastic is not always economically viable.
With China’s recent restrictions on importing plastic for recycling, Australia is currently facing a waste crisis. Due to oversupply and devaluation of recyclable waste, many companies are now finding the cost of recycling has become greater than the profit they can make from the service. One long term solution to our recycling problems is to reduce the need for recycling altogether by using sustainable alternatives.
Some ideas to get you started…
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