by Emma Peters April 21, 2018

We all know by now that the planet is in real trouble if we don’t stop producing disposable plastic. But what does that actually mean to you “The Planet is in Trouble” and how much are you actively doing about it?

This seems like such a humungous problem, that’s not easily solved, and can be overwhelming to think about. And even if you do try to go plastic free, it’s damn hard, plastic is everywhere!

If you’re like me, you have the best intentions of reducing plastic use wherever and whenever you can and still fall short of actually doing it. Of course, I know we all want a better, healthier planet. I also know that intentions alone don’t mean diddly if they’re not followed through and executed no matter what!

That “what” might be the inconvenience of not having your morning coffee because you forgot your reusable coffee cup. Or your schedule is delayed several minutes while you run back to the car to get your re-useable grocery bags. Or your preferred vegetable is off limits for the week because the only option comes wrapped in a totally superfluous plastic bag!

So why is plastic harmful and who's it affecting?

Endocrine disruptors

People

That’s right, plastic is harmful to humans.

There are a multitude of different plastics in circulation. But most of them, 99% according to ciel.org, are produced from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels. Crude oil and gasses are converted into hydrocarbon monomers like ethylene, propylene, styrene, vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol and then mixed with other chemicals in various processes to create the desired and fit-for-purpose results.

What, how and where they’re made are not important to this article. What is important to us humans is that almost all plastic releases estrogenic chemicals. This means that the chemicals from plastics are likely to leaching into our food, drink and cosmetics, and seek to attach themselves to the hormone receptors in our bodies. Then when our actual hormones come along to do their job, there's nowhere for them to go, creating havoc and disease.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals are also suspected to be associated with altered reproductive function in males and females; increased incidence of breast cancer, and changes in immune function. This has become a serious concern in our children contributing to abnormal growth patterns, neuro- developmental delays in children, and early puberty.

Plastic harms animals

Animals

We’ve all seen images of turtles in beer can holders, whales spewing plastic garbage and cute animals in the wild chewing on a stray plastic bag. Not only is there an estimated 165 million tonnes of plastic debris floating in the oceans maiming marine life, small particles of broken down plastic (microplastic) is being ingested by fish and causing havoc, not least of which is destroying their reproductive abilities (much like what’s happening to humans).

And, if you’re a fish eater, there’s a chance you’ll be getting a second helping of hormone disruption via your main meal.

For land animals, the news isn’t much better. Chemicals from plastics leach into soil affecting their food and water supply causing them the same hormonal upsets as the rest of us.

Plastic and the planet

Planet

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists in one form or another and will take several hundred years to decompose.

Our waterways are full of micro plastics and our oceans are clogged with giant masses of plastic and garbage. “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” is one of the many regions where currents converge and plastic accumulates. Sadly, though some of it may be cleaned up, and many organisations are working hard on this, a huge percentage of micro plastic has no chance of being recovered.

The other thing to note is that plastic is made from fossil fuels and the resources needed to produce just a single plastic bottle are astounding. If you picture one of those bottles 1/4 filled with oil, that’s how much it took to produce it.

Though the oil companies that own plastics manufacturing (yep, one and the same)would dispute the fact that we need to eliminate plastic manufacturing, it’s critical to focus on cleaning up and producing greener ways to package and contain all of our necessities and luxuries.

We may think we’re being environmentally responsible and recycling our plastic bottles, and it feels good to do our bit. But in reality only 12 percent of the worlds plastic gets recycled. Wether by accidentally mis-sorting the recyclables, the fact that there’s a lack of profitable markets for recyclables or just by ignorance. It doesn't change the fact that there’s an ever increasing pile of garbage polluting every corner of the earth.

Be accountable

We can all do our part to make a difference to this beautiful planet and the beings on it.

Shop consciously by avoiding clothing made from plastic microfibres, products containing plastic micro beads like exfoliators, choosing reusable containers made from other more sustainable or recyclable materials such as aluminium and glass.

Make it your mission to be accountable to yourself, or if that’s too hard, find a buddy and be accountable to each other. Make it a “non-negotiable” in your day. You don’t have to tackle it all at once, just start with the daily/weekly rituals that can be changed, like coffee and groceries.

Go plastic free, start with these 5 easy swaps

Ethique Skin, Hair and Body Care

EthiqueThis genius NZ made brand makes a wide range of products all without plastic packaging. Unlike other brands that do this, they're products are free from nasties so they’re healthy for humans and the planet. They make everything from deodorants to face cream to shampoo to pet care. Their packaging is compostable and ingredients are bio degradable leaving no trace on the planet!

Lillybee food wraps

lily bee wrapsThis is a perfect eco friendly replacement for plastic wrap. They’re made from organic cotton and coated with natural solution of beeswax, tree resin, and organic coconut oil. These mould to the top of your containers with the warmth of your hand and are reusable for 6-12 months with absolutely no plastic to dispose of!

Dry skin body brush

dry skin brush

Aside from the fact that this is one of the healthiest things you can do for your lymphatic system, dry brushing is an excellent body exfoliator.

With light strokes, brush the skin 3 or 4 times in each area starting with the soles of the feet and then the outer extremities inward toward your chest.

Do this before your shower on dry skin and follow your shower with a gentle moisturiser.

You’ll be smooth and revitalised without using an exfoliant from a plastic pot or one with nasty plastic micro beads.

Reusable coffee cup

reuseable coffee cupMake this your condition. If you tell yourself you’re forbidden to have a coffee unless its in your special cup, then you don’t get one! It’ll only take one forgetful moment and you wont EVER do that again! Then you’ll be saving 365 or more plastic lined cups and lids from the planet

Reusable shopping bags

reusable shopping bag

Another non-negotiable. I used to find that with all of my good intentions of unpacking the reusable bags, putting them back into the car, carting them to the supermarket, only to forget to bring them inside and cave to “just one plastic bag, just this time”. I kicked that habit. A few instances of making myself walk back across the carpark in the rain to retrieve the bag sorted me out for good. Now it’s second nature. Easy.

These are just a few items to help you go plastic free, but there are many more over at Oh Natural. You’re also avoiding nasty courier bags when you make your purchase as all packaging is biodegradable. Except the courier sticker. Remember to peal this off and dispose of responsibly.

If you have these on hand there’s no question and no stress, and just think how much plastic you'll avoid!

Emma Peters
Emma Peters

Emma Peters, organic makeup artist, creative director and founder of Belle & Sage, is committed to leading the conversation around beauty and wellness. With over twenty years of experience as a make-up artist, she knows you don’t have to sacrifice quality for clean.

She’ll help you find the what, learn the why, nail the how, and everything in between.

Letting you know more, wear better, and start making beautiful choices: from the inside, out.


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