Reducing your plastic usage
We’ve all heard the saying “Reduce Reuse Recycle”, but how much difference does reducing your plastic usage actually make?
According to some reports, at least 6000 tons of waste a day is produced in Cape Town alone, and each person produces between 1.7kgs and 2kgs of waste a day, the vast majority of which is food waste and food packaging. Moreover, only 16% of our plastic rubbish is being recycled. Using back of the envelope maths, and assuming half of our waste is packaging, we generate around 700g of waste per day, or 255,5kg per year, each. Clearly, there’s a big problem there. But is something as simple as buying a reusable shopping bag really going to have that much of an impact?
In a word, yes. South Africans bought 2 billion plastic bags last year, down from 2.9 billion in 2017 thanks to the 8 cent bag levy implemented in 2016, but by all accounts, still a massive number. Reusable shopping bags not only reduce this number by replacing single-use bags during your shopping trips, but because of their bigger size, they typically replace two or three bags per trip. In addition, fruits and vegetables are typically sold in plastic bags, but these too can be replaced by smaller reusable bags and/or netting, reducing our plastic footprint even further.
The potential exists for us to make an enormous difference for our future, and it doesn’t take an enormous amount of effort on our part. It begins with something as simple as a shopping bag. Isn’t it about time we made this small change to create a big impact?