There seems to be a lot of antagonism towards plastics, some of which is deserved but some plastics are very well engineered, versatile and are basically now life essentials.
What we believe needs to be clearer is the detrimental impact our throwaway, single use lifestyles are having. When we say single use we are referring to any plastic that you use once or twice and then dispose of. Yes recycling them is often an option but it doesn’t make them any more sustainable. Recycling is expensive and time consuming.
Where possible it is better to avoid single use materials. You’ll have probably seen all of the tips and guides telling you to swap your carrier bags for tote bags, your disposable coffee cups for a keep cup and to ditch plastic cutlery altogether. These guides are aiming to do away with single use products. Rather than demonising all plastics let’s prioritise getting away from the ones we don’t need, that we only use for the convenience.
Interestingly the chair of the Committee on Climate Change Lord Deben has warned that shoppers are demanding plastic-free items without consideration of why the material has been used – for instance protection from damage in transit and increasing product life. In medical siuations plastics are often much more sterile and disable consumers may struggle with blanket bans on flexible straws.
A more explanatory term for single use might be disposable.
The key thing to remember is to follow the waste hierarchy and do away with products you don’t need but not to get too bogged down in eliminating all plastics from your life.
To learn more about plastics, and what we can do about problem plastics please get involved with our Precious Plastic York project.