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Published On: 02 Jul 2024

Top 3 Sustainable Alternatives to Single-Use Plastics

Did you know that every single piece of plastic ever created still exists in some form today?

Over half of all plastic is contained in landfills however oceans and waterways are increasingly being filled with plastic. This poses a huge problem for marine and aquatic species, which is something we see all too often with animal patients admitted through the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

The Cost of Plastic to the Environment and Our Health

Too often we hear about the dangers of plastic pollution and waste…and for good reason. Natural and organic materials, such as, cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt, water and crude oil are all used in the production of plastic.

But the problem goes further than the high energy and resources used for plastic production.

We are seeing more and more plastic in our environment, as it doesn’t decompose quickly. For example, it is estimated that one single use plastic bottle will take 450 years to break down.

Then there is the issue of plastic break down.

What Happens When Plastic Breaks Down

When plastics break down, microplastics are formed. Recent studies indicate microplastics affect chemical balances in soil and are ingested by soil-based organisms, which can affect our gut health if we ingest foods grown on these soils. It is expected future studies will show the effects of this throughout each level of terrestrial food webs.

Australia's Plastic Bottle Problem

Australia has the second-highest consumption rate of plastic water bottles in the world. Every year, billions of plastic bottles end up in landfill and 130,000 tons of plastic leaks into our marine environment, posing a significant risk to wildlife.

Plus, producing bottled water is not very environmentally friendly either. It takes 3 liters of water and 1 liter of oil to produce just one 1-liter of bottled water. Crazy, isn't it?!

Similarly to other single-use plastic items, plastic water bottles come at a huge cost to our environment, wildlife and health.

Top 3 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Single-Use Plastics

Reducing plastic usage is one of the best things we can do to conserve the environment, so our Education team has come up with some great eco-alternatives to single-use plastic items. Here are their top three tips:

1. Take a reusable drink bottle with you

Instead of using single use plastic bottles, try using reusable bottles like metal bottles. Or if you love coffee like we do, don't forget to bring your keep cup.

By using your reusable water bottle or coffee cup, you are reducing the demand for new plastic and saving natural resources

2. Grab a reusable metal or cardboard straw

Plastic straws are light-weight and easily blown away, with many ending up in our rivers and oceans. Instead, try going straw-free or using a reusable metal or cardboard straw.

3. Choose bamboo cutlery over plastic cutlery

Not only does plastic cutlery (like all plastic) pose huge problems for wildlife, but small fragments often break off and are ingested by humans whilst eating. The toxins found within plastic can lead to cataracts and damage kidneys and liver. Bamboo cutlery and other alternatives are safer for the environment and YOU.

Let's End Single-Use Plastics

Together, we can reduce the need for plastics and protect our environment, wildlife and health by choosing eco-friendly alternatives. It is the small acts that make a huge impact!