7 Small Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste - While We Await The Plastic Eating Bugs!

Hope prevails in the world of plastic recycling, with research being undertaken into plastic eating bacteria. It has been found that these bacteria settle on plastic, using it as an energy source. Their chemical activities have been found to speed up the rate of degradation in plastic materials.

The bacteria was first discovered in 2016 at a Japanese rubbish tip. It was found that the bacteria secreted an enzyme that acted to break down plastic. Scientists then tinkered with the enzyme to make it even more efficient. It now only takes a few days to start breaking down plastic, but researchers are confident the process can be sped up even further.

It is hoped the enzyme can be used to break plastic down to its original components. From there the components can be used to re-create plastic goods that are essentially new, without the need for oil. It means the recycled plastic won't degrade in quality the way it does with current recycling methods.

But with 1 million plastic bottles sold each minute - yes minute! Only 14% are recycled. Even the remotest parts of the world are polluted and micro-plastics are seeping into everything. So new recycling technology isn't likely to affect us much, unless we improve our habits a little (or a lot - but a little is better than nothing).

Even if scientists do perfect the plastic eating enzyme, people still need do the right thing and ensure their plastics are making it to the correct recycling facility in the proper manner.

Four Mile Creek, Warburton, Victoria, Australia
I live in the Yarra Valley, home to the Yarra River and a bunch of creeks that feed into it. I live near a lake bustling with bird life and plant species. What is released into the environment around here ends up in the waterways. The river leads to the bay, which opens up into the ocean. What happens in all of our neighbourhoods affects the world beyond.

When I walk to my local lake I pass a high school and a spot where tradies pull up in their utes to eat their lunch. The whole area is often littered with plastic bottles and bags. It's like they don't realise where they are. The animals and birds that call the area home are at risk, even before the rubbish enters the waterways.

If the 14% recycling rate is accurate then we have a long way to go. We need to get the rubbish into the bins, the right bins. Until then, even if the newly discovered plastic hungry critters were unleashed upon recycling facilities, only a small percentage of the problem would be solved. We're soaking in plastic and it's time to clean up after ourselves, no matter our age, class or gender.
'They tell me that it all ends up in landfill anyway and that I'm wasting my time.'
I think it's time we all made a bit more effort to recycle, so that we can generate the personal habits required to meet this new technology. Some people have told me that they don't bother recycling because they don't have faith in our recycling systems. They tell me that it all ends up in landfill anyway and that I'm wasting my time. I asserted that even if that were true, isn't it better that we do what we can to do the right thing, even if others don't?

Consider this: Your recycling efforts now are a token of your belief in the recycling systems of the future. We might not have it right yet, but people are working on it. For now it takes only a minor investment of time to support the only solution we currently have to the plastic problem - recycling.
'So if you catch your mates dropping their rubbish, pull them up on it.'
Aside from that, we also know that plastic recycling services are still inefficient. Australia has been shipping its rubbish out of the country. The countries Australia has been shipping its plastic waste to are starting to refuse to recycle our refuse. So there are a few easy things we can do to limit our plastic waste:

7 Small Ways To Help Our Planet By Reducing Plastic Waste

  1. Buy products in cans, glass bottles and jars.
  2. Have several reusable water bottles and always have one ready to go.
  3. If you eat sandwiches at a fixed work place, leave a loaf of bread at work and just bring the fillings in a lunchbox. No need for plastic wrap.
  4. Instead of plastic wrap, put a plate, or upturned bowl on top of leftovers to store in the fridge.
  5. The recycling bin for soft plastics at supermarkets aren't just for shopping bags. Rinse out and dry your less soiled food packets and remember to place them into the soft plastic recycling bin. I keep used, cleaned, plastic packets in my reusable shopping bags so that I remember to take them. You can use the dirtier food packets as bin liners.
  6. Use a small rubbish bin in the kitchen so that food packets can be recycled into bin liners. Deli bags are perfect for this. They're too sticky with food to recycle and are the perfect size.
  7. Pick up rubbish and call others out on their littering behaviour when you can. Do so safely and be discerning, this planet belongs to all of us and we have a right to protect and nurture it. 
So if you catch your mates dropping their rubbish, pull them up on it. Be brave enough to protect the planet. Just this planet protecting you from like - the universe - from floating off into space! It maintains the right conditions for life, the food and the air. Pretty important stuff! It's no wonder we used to worship nature. Why don't we now?

So the least we can do is pick up after ourselves and deal with the man-made waste. The planet can deal with the waste of a few, but the waste of 9 billion is too much! Mother Earth needs a helping hand.

Book, The Love of the Universe
I sincerely hope that science can utilise this new discovery to solve the plastic waste problems facing our planet. I hope we can find the right balance between convenience and indulgence that plastic production faces us with. And let's hope that the plastic eating bugs don't eat our Tupperware, or worse, our prosthetics! We creator-beings have a lot to think about. 

Planet Love

Leanne Margaret © 2019

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