Recycling or not?

Recycling or not?

We have been informed that global warming is more and more threatening the world and humanity. Some news, in the social media or on the TV even warned of an apocalypse in less than 20 years. This information raised awareness about the necessity of taking care of the environment. Even though, it is still a problem and a big challenge for some communities to start recycling.

In France – and for sure in other countries – a community built a challenge on the social media called #onestpret «we are ready». This was a one month challenge before the end of 2018 calling for interruption of polluting actions and for changing habits. For the beginning of 2019, the challenge continues with another Hashtag meaning «the case of the century», #LaffaireDuSiecle,  gathering more than 1.5 Million followers.

Plastic is a disaster for our environment. In fact, 300 Million tons of plastic are produced each year. Between 30% and 50% of this plastic are scattered randomly and uncontrollably in our environment. In average, 15000 plastic bottles per second are sold in the world, which equals circa 480 milliards a year. After drinking the water, the plastic is thrown away, sometimes even in nature. It needs between 400 and 1000 years for a one single plastic bottle to be deteriorated. 8 millions tons of plastic are thrown in the ocean. If nothing is done, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean in 2050.

The problem with this material is it is a single-use characteristic. Plastic is a useful product but 50% of the plastic produced is thrown, according to the Independent. As soon as a product has been recycled three times, its material cannot be reused anymore to create something else.

In addition, to being dangerous for the natural balance, it is damaging the health of more than 700 species in the ocean. Plastic has been found in more than 60% seabirds and 100% of sea turtles species, according to the Ocean Conservancy. At the end of the chain, plastic may be on our plate too.

Plastic is everywhere: plastic bags after shopping, toothbrushes, home appliances, bottles, food packaging, clothes. Some simple habits would already reduce the amount of thrown away plastic. Using cotton shopping bags, have a drinking water from a gourd, wash our teeth with a wooden brush and a homemade paste, buy fresh vegetables instead of packaged frozen ones. If each of the 7 Milliards living on earth change their habits, it would make a big difference. But is this really sustainable? We should not only replace or reduce plastic, but we should remove it from our daily life.

And if we tried not to recycle but to find alternatives to plastic to create a responsible and conscious social, economic and commercial system? The interest is getting bigger and spread worldwide. The leaders of the movements are willing for a general change of mind. But often, it is been told that we have to recycle the plastic we use, which implies that plastic is the only solution, the only packaging, the only material. It is not. In fact, a lot of searchers, creators, designers, influencers, are developing new products without plastic: products which would have a benefit on the environment.

With such a mass consumption like what we are experiencing right now, it is not anymore about finding a way to recycle and a clean way to throw things away. It is more about finding a way to be sustainable and have a positive impact while consuming. It was time to find a «No waste» alternative. An Icelandic design student created a biodegradable bottle, made of Agar-agar. Agar-agar is a Pulver made of a red seaweed, which becomes hard after being heated, mold, and dipped in cold water. As long as the bottle contains liquid, it keeps its form, when it becomes empty, it will turn back into a seaweed.

The same way, the Skipping Rocks Lab created the concept of Ooho. These are water bubbles. 100% natural and biodegradable packaging for all kind of liquids: a «water you can eat» also made of agar-agar which is edible. This was the main concern of the project: drink water without making any waste, «make packaging dissapear».

Talking about the trash problem created by drinks’ containers, another project is to mention. «Reduce. Reuse. Grow.». Certainly, some coffee lovers have their reusable cup or bottle, which is an amazing invention. But sometimes, passing by the coffee shop by chance, we drink our coffee in take-away cups and this becomes a big amount of trash. The start-up Reduce. Reuse. Grow. created a biodegradable and plantable take-away cup. The worthless coffee cup becomes a tree when planted. Apparently, one cup grows at least one tree, which «will extract one ton of CO2 over a forty years span».

This project, by being spread around the world, could help to reforest some aeras and keep a clean trash system. In the same principe than plastic bottles, aluminium and plastic packaging are damaging the environment. A women created a «sustainable food storage», made of fabric and beeswax, to pack every sandwich or store and keep any types of food fresh. She called it the Bee’s wrap. It is a simple, reusable alternative to plastic wrap. It can be used almost to infinity, it just has to be washed with water after use. It is an easy way to reduce the use of plastic or aluminium. Briefly, there are a lot of alternatives to plastic. These ideas just have to be spread. Let us create a world with less plastic and packaging as possible.

 Elise Girode 


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