Here’s how you can move away from using plastic and help the environment

Here’s how you can move away from using plastic and help the environment

From our morning Starbucks coffee to an evening snack of chips everywhere we look around us, we are covered in plastic. So much so that, nearly 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year, half of which is single-use items. Which is equal to the weight of the entire human population! The production of plastic has helped make a vast range of products affordable, strengthening our economies.  Sadly, we have become quite comfortable with using plastic especially single-use plastic items which is one of the biggest pollutants of the ocean.

The major impact of plastic on the environment is that it takes around 500-1,000 years for it to decompose. A lot of this plastic waste usually ends up dumped into the ocean, polluting it. This results in dire consequences for the environment that includes animal chocking, pollution, blockage of channels, rivers and streams and landscape disfigurement. In addition to this, toxic chemicals are released into the soil when plastic items perish under sunlight and when burned it releases a toxic substance into the air, causing air pollution. Animals in the ocean may confuse plastic with food and consume them which ends up blocking their digestive systems. There have been instances where many marine animals especially endangered tortoises were found suffocated due to swallowing plastics pieces combined with seaweed. Today, almost 1 million marine animals die due to plastic production. Many fishes have also been found with microplastic pieces in their guts. This affects us too as every year around 70,000 microplastic are consumed by an average person.

A thing about plastic is that we’ll never be able to stop producing it. Which is fine- it has many good uses. But what we can do is help to bend the curve on single-use plastic production and avoid using as less as possible.

Here are some things you can do to move away from plastic -

1. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle- Reduce or avoid using plastics wherever you can, reuse and recycle the plastic items you can. Not all plastic items are recyclable so you should be cautious in checking whether it’s good to recycle or not.

2. Say NO to plastic bags- Plastic bags in supermarkets and shopping malls is single-handedly the biggest pollutant of the environment. Though you can reuse a plastic bag for some time but when it is thrown away the effects its causes to the environment are detrimental. Instead of using plastic bags you can use substitutes like Paper bags, Jute Bags, Biodegradable Bags, Newspaper/Recycled paper bags and Cloth bags.

3. Use your own cup to get your coffee at coffee shops- Bring your own ceramic or metal cup instead of using the single-use plastic cups for your coffee. Many coffee brands like Starbucks, Tim Hortans etc have their own branded coffee cups which you can bring in to fill your coffee.

4. Bring your own containers to fill groceries- The plastic coverings in which we get most of our groceries are often thrown away after we open them. Instead, you can get your own reusable plastic or glass container from home and ask the shopkeepers to fill your containers for you instead of the plastic coverings.

5.  Stop using plastic straws - Metal straws have recently become very popular as people are becoming more aware and eco-efficient, many small businesses manufacture and sell them online. Plastic straws severely impact the environment. We just use a plastic straw once and then throw it away. Instead of plastic straws you can use other eco-friendly substitutes like metal or paper straws.

6. Use Plastic free/ eco-friendly products- With more and more people becoming aware and taking steps in advocating for and protecting the environment. Many brands have started producing and manufacturing products that are plastic free and are packaged in eco-friendly packaging. You can easily search eco-friendly brands from the net.

What is the UAE doing to reduce plastic consumption?

The Abu Dhabi government has issued a ban which started from the 1st of June 2022 for single use plastic products in Abu Dhabi. This initiative will prevent the sale of single-use plastic bags across all retailers. The government plans to implement measures to reduce demand for almost 16 single use plastic products, however currently its only banning single use plastic grocery shopping bags and encourages shopkeepers and residents to use eco-friendly substitutes.

On the other hand, The Dubai Government has announced that it will impose a tariff of 25 fils on single-use bags starting from 1st July 2022. They plan to evaluate this policy at several stages until completely banning plastic bags within the next 2 years.

The Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has launched ‘Dubai Can’ a sustainability initiative.

This initiative aims to reduce single-use plastic water bottle waste in the city by:

• Encouraging individuals to use refillable water bottles

• Providing access to free and safe drinking water by installing water stations across Dubai

• Drive awareness on plastic alternatives and sustainability issues thus creating a culture of conscious living.

The ‘Dubai Can’ initiative encourages communities, businesses, residents, and visitors to make simple changes such as using refillable water bottles, drinking from public water stations, and installing water filters in homes, offices, and schools, which will result in the overall reduction of single-use plastic water bottles.

With today being ‘World Oceans Day’ (June 8th), an internationally recognized day that aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 14, “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” by 2030. We can all pledge to do our bits in preserving the environment leaving a sustainable future for the future.

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