Plastic Persists Forever
and Come Back to Haunt Us

There is a lot of emphasis on what we can recycle in our green bins. Only recently there were new guidelines as to what can and cannot be placed in the green bin. For this month we might dwell on the idea of how we can reduce waste at source rather than seeing recycling as a prime way to be environmentally friendly.
          The hierarchy is
          REDUCE:
          REUSE:
          RECYCLE:
          REFUSE.
          Let’s see how we can starve both our landfill and recycle bins especially from plastics.
          Plastics are known to be one of the most detrimental components of our modern waste. They are never-ending and when they leave us they do not biodegrade but persist in our oceans or wherever they may be. Their assiduous presence in our oceans is lethal to marine life whether through ingestion or through entanglement which leads to suffering and starvation.
          What can we do to avoid plastics?
          Buy products which are unwrapped or are in bio-degradable packaging. Buy food from local farmers markets. As well as saving food miles and strengthening local food enterprises packaging can be eliminated.
          Bring your own shopping bags.
          Look out for places where you can fill your own containers of dry food, look local.
          Bring your own reusable cup instead of accepting one-use cups.
          Make Your Own Fabric Bags for vegetables – this also recycles old fabrics and they can be re-used.
          Plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic cups are obvious but what of the hidden plastics in the microbeads in cosmetics and toiletries. Fauna & Flora International was one of the first environmental NGOs to raise the alarm about microbeads back in 2012. It has been working with the cosmetics industry ever since to persuade them to phase out these ingredients, fauna-flora.org
          Many cosmetic and beauty products still contain microplastic ingredients, such as polyethylene, which quickly make their way into waterways. An app called Beat the Microbead 3.0 can scan products, beatthemicrobead.org
          Another “invisible” source of ocean pollution are microfibres from synthetic clothes such as acrylic, nylon and polyester. These microfibres escape prematurely during laundry sessions and make their way to the sea. For 15 ways to stop microfibre pollution see:- plasticpollutioncoalition.org, which include: Washing synthetic clothes less frequently and for a shorter duration.
          Filling washing machine. Washing a full load results in less friction between the clothes and fewer fibres released.
          Switching to a liquid laundry soap. Laundry powder “scrubs” and loosens more microfibers.
          Using a colder wash setting. Higher temperature can damage clothes and release more fibres.
          Avoid buying synthetic clothes
          Avoiding plastics can be challenge but each action performed to avoid plastic is helping to change the mindset that we cannot get it eliminated from our everyday.

Fran Brady
Eco-Quaker Ireland Representative on Eco-Congregation Ireland


Cover