Why is it important to reduce our single-use waste?
2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste is generated annually across the globe, with the 16% of the world population in high-income countries generating 34% of waste 1.
Inadequate disposal methods can mean large volumes of this waste end up in the natural environment, polluting terrestrial & aquatic ecosystems and posing a threat to wildlife.
Plastic is thought to take almost 500 years to decompose in some cases 2 and kills wildlife through entanglement and starvation when macroplastics are ingested 3. When degraded, plastics produce microplastic pieces 4 which are readily ingested by small organisms and accumulate in the food chain. Although plastic has many important uses today, reducing our consumption of single-use and easily replaceable plastic items can help reduce this environmental pollution.
By using reusable items instead of disposable ones, whether plastic or not, we don't consume as many individual items and produce less waste.
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Trends in solid waste management (no date). World Bank. https://datatopics.worldbank.org/what-a-waste/trends_in_solid_waste_management.html
The lifecycle of plastics (2021). WWF. https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/the-lifecycle-of-plastics#gs.68bjik
Giddings, D. (2021). The effects of single-use plastic on the environment. Nature Conservancy Canada. https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/blog/the-effects-of-single-use-plastic.html
What are microplastics? (2021). US NOAA National Ocean Service. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/microplastics.html