How To Reduce Plastic Waste & Consumption
It’s no secret that one of the biggest issues facing our future is the immense amount of waste we produce every day.
Not all garbage is created equal. Some materials, such as metal and paper, are relatively easy to recycle. In fact, around 68% of paper was recycled in the United States in 2021.
Plastic, on the other hand, is much more problematic. With only 5% of plastic in the US being recycled each year, we’re left with an unfathomably huge amount to get rid of and increasingly few places to put it.
The results are well documented. You’ve likely seen the images of plastic-covered beaches, animals trapped in plastic packaging, and more. While these may seem to some like scare tactics, the images are only a small picture of the serious threat plastic pollution poses to our planet and our people.
Today, Tasc Performance is here to talk about ways that you can get involved in working to solve this problem. While major corporations doubtless have a core responsibility in reducing plastic waste, every person around the world can make an impact.
How Can You Reduce Plastic Waste and Use?
The problem of waste management is clear, but it can sometimes be overwhelming. With such massive amounts of pollution in the form of plastic bottles and other plastic materials, will a few habit changes in your life really make a difference?
When more and more people make these steps towards sustainability, they add up and truly start to turn the tides across the world. For that reason, everything you can do to reuse plastic and keep it out of landfills is genuinely important!
Here are some ideas for ways you can get involved.
Buy Clothes With Sustainable Packaging
With online shopping becoming more and more people’s go-to for buying clothes, the demand for efficient and safe packaging is also on the rise. Unfortunately, the most common type of packaging seen for online fashion purchases is single-use, unrecyclable plastic packaging.
Often there might even be multiple, unnecessary layers of plastic packaging, in which each item is individually wrapped in plastic and bundled together in a larger plastic bag. This creates a staggering amount of plastic waste, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and perpetuating climate change.
Sustainable packaging is a growing trend being taken on by businesses across all industries. Paper packaging and eliminating pieces of plastic waste is just one example. Bioplastics (which are a sustainable alternative to traditional plastic) and even fiber packaging solutions are also on the rise.
Choose Sustainable Materials Like Organic Cotton and Bamboo
One area that is often overlooked is the material clothes are made from. Many people buy clothes without giving too much thought into the materials used. However, from production to wash cycles and eventually disposal, clothing materials have a significant impact.
It starts with the production process and the raw materials, polymers, and additives used. Synthetic fibers are especially guilty when it comes to unsustainable production.
Most fashion giants produce synthetic fibers at scale using massive amounts of fossil fuels, unrenewable energy sources that pollute the environment to a dangerous degree. These contribute to the destruction of ecosystems.
Additionally, these materials require chemicals during and after production, which leads to water pollution.
The problems persist throughout the lifetime of your clothing as well, as you wear and wash your synthetic fiber clothes. Many synthetic fibers contain microplastics, generating plastic debris that is susceptible to leakage during washes and wears.
Most microplastic wind up in the ocean, where the cumulative effects of microplastic pollution on marine life are becoming more and more clear and problematic to our planet.
The better alternative is to buy clothes that use natural materials, such as bamboo and organic cotton fibers produced through sustainable practices.
Here at Tasc Performance, we’re proud to create sustainable styles using these materials and others, such as beechwood, that keep the environment around them (and communities producing them) healthy.
Recycle as Much as You Can
Sustainable materials are often only as useful as we make them. Without diligent recycling practices, sustainable materials can end up polluting the environment just as much as plastic waste generation.
Recycling is one of our best waste management systems. While it may not be the most convenient path in the short term, since recycling takes time and effort, it’s worth it for the future of our planet.
All it takes is simple baby steps to get started. Do some research into how you might recycle products that commonly pass through your household and whether the area you live in has any services to help support your recycling efforts.
Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Not all plastic is necessarily problematic. Some plastic products can be used for years and years, then responsibly recycled when their useful life is complete. Others, not so much.
Single-use plastics are rampant throughout many industries, including fashion, food, and more. Things like plastic wrappers, plastic tags, clips, and even straws, forks, and cups all contribute to single-use plastic waste.
Each trash bag we toss may seem small, but when we consider the cumulative toll this waste takes on our planet, it becomes staggering. Over 150 million tons of single-use plastic is produced worldwide every year.
Use Steel and Glass Food Containers
It may seem convenient to use and dispose of plastic food containers, but the hidden costs — the impact of global plastic use — shouldn’t be ignored.
Switching to steel and glass food and drink containers cuts out unnecessary new plastic without making your lunch or commute snack habits any harder to maintain. Just a little up-front investment in better containers goes a long way!
Buy Clothes and Goods That Last
One of the most effective changes you can make is to invest in products that last. When we choose cheap, short-term, disposable products, whether they be fast fashion clothes for just a season or plastic dinnerware, we choose the less sustainable option.
At Tasc Performance, we’re proud to make clothes that are durable, odor-resistant, and high-quality enough to last you for years and years after your purchase. With longer-lasting clothes, you can reduce your waste impact and help the world be a healthier place!
The Alarming Stats on Plastic Waste
Some of the steps for reducing plastic waste and consumption are easier than others, especially if you live somewhere where the people around you aren’t doing the same. However, it’s essential not to let the importance of what we are working towards slip by us.
How Much Plastic Waste Is Produced per Year?
Every year, we produce over 300 million metric tons of plastic worldwide. Around half of that is for single-use plastics, such as packaging or dispensable dinnerware.
How Much of That Plastic Ends Up in the Ocean?
Varying statistics estimate that anywhere from 11 million to 18 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, and these numbers are only expected to rise. The ocean plastic accumulates in swirling gyres, which can be difficult to stop from growing. This marine debris is a threat to seabirds and other species.
Despite popular misconception, the majority of this plastic is not from consumer waste but from fishing nets and larger plastic items such as crates. However, there are still millions of tons of waste that we as individuals contribute to with our everyday plastic waste.
If we all bring together our plastic recycling efforts, we can significantly reduce the plastic flowing into the seas and jeopardizing human health!
How Long Do Single-Use Plastics Take To Biodegrade?
The lifecycle of single-use plastics varies based on the product in question. Plastic bags, for example, take about 20 years to degrade, while plastic straws can take up to 200 years, and plastic water bottles up to 450 years.
These staggering stats have led to some countries enacting bans on certain types of plastic, like single-use grocery bags.
The United Nations is also collectively working towards large-scale plastic bans and changes to the plastic value chain.
Do Your Part To Reduce Plastic Waste
Though the scale of the plastic problem we face today may seem overwhelming, it’s essential for us to remember that no effort is too small, and no contribution meaningless. Every single piece of waste we prevent from entering the environment is a victory for humankind, the planet, and the future.
You don’t have to organize a massive ocean clean-up or cause a change in the law to make a difference. Get started today with the simple steps we presented today! To turn your fashion life into a sustainable one, consider our eco-friendly, responsibly produced, long-lasting styles here at Tasc Performance!