Plastic. You’ve probably heard it’s a bit of a problem.
But humans are pretty crafty - and there’s some awesome ones in New Zealand (& abroad) that are cooking up some exciting solutions to the plastic problem.
If we’re actually going to find a real solution to this issue, we need to properly understand what the problem is, and why it’s important to solve.
Defining The Challenge:
Plastics break down into microplastics (AKA nurdles), which marine life have a tendency to gobble up. Plastic is toxic when ingested, and this toxicity builds as it moves up the food chain. Luckily for us (unluckily in this case), we’re at the top of that food chain.
If you’re thinking - “that’s okay, I don’t even really like fish that much” I’ve got some bad news for you. We live in one big interconnected ecosystem. When things get out of kilter under there, we’re in for some potentially serious knock-on effects up here.
There’s two key sides to this problem:
Plastic Production: Decreasing demand for & uses of plastic.
Plastic Pollution: Getting plastics & mircoplastics out of the ocean (roll back impact of current pollution).
Today - let’s focus on #1 - the easy(ish) ways consumers & manufacturers can reduce their plastic consumption.
Solving current plastic pollution is important as well, and we need a lot of help in that space - I’ve found a couple of cool stories of people working on this challenge, but not much in NZ. Hit me up if you know of much going on in this space (beyond local beach cleanups - which are awesome).
Firstly, what kind of plastic is the problem?
Almost 50% of all plastic produced is used for packaging materials, which are typically single-use items. The Plastics B.A.N List (Better Alternatives Now), identified the top 20 plastic products found polluting watersheds in the US (which we can use as a benchmark for NZ).