How might we reduce plastic disposal in our oceans and increase participation in a plastic free lifestyle?
GOAL 14: Life Below Water | By: Nicole & Victoria
Whether you grab a coffee, purchase groceries, or practice regular hygiene, it’s safe to say that plastic is a big part of our daily lives. With our daily usage at an all-time high, our oceans have become a dumping ground for plastics.
Each stakeholder throughout the plastic life cycle is presented with barriers such as low-cost production, low demand for sustainable products, and a general lack of care. These barriers create a domino effect, as some barriers at the start of the cycle influence others to occur in later stages with other stakeholders. Plastic waste that is non-recyclable, unlabeled, or overly recycled, is sent to our landfills which more often than not, turns into ocean litter that takes hundreds of years to decompose. At every stage of the life cycle, stakeholders contribute to plastic waste by throwing out their extra products or unused materials, adding to the problem before products are even on the shelves. Plastic-based ocean pollution contains a wide array of items, but products that individuals use daily such as plastic bags, water bottles, and/or coffee cups, are some of the most common.
Since the introduction of plastics, we have increasingly built a strong reliance on it in our products. By ensuring that recyclable plastics can be reused and by using more sustainable products, the amount of plastic waste will decrease exponentially.
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In recent months, I have begun to evaluate how my lifestyle impacts the Earth, including my plastic usage. I wanted to change this habit that I had built throughout the years of using the single-use plastic bags at the grocery store, forgetting my reusable coffee cup, or buying plastic water bottles at the gas station. By choosing this topic as my research question, I am learning and challenging myself, at the same time, to take steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle. I think the most interesting part of our research is how every single change is a step in the right direction; whether you buy a tote bag for groceries or bring your reusable coffee cup, these small steps make a world of difference.
Within the past year, I have become increasingly aware of the amount of plastic I have been throwing away: where does it go? Is my trash from 2 years ago floating in some part of the ocean or it is buried with other heaps of trash? As a person who feels a lot towards the environment, I believe this kind of behaviour needs to change, big time. As I have been slowly transitioning to new ways of approaching my waste problem, focusing on the UN goal 14, life below water, was an easy choice for my Humanly project. As it appears from a survey we sent out, the 602 responses revealed that the barriers people face when moving towards a plastic-free lifestyle involve convenience, cost, accessibility, and faulty alternatives, just to name a few. It’s important to see the struggles others face when moving towards more sustainable practices so we can figure out where each barrier begins.