Plastic free and zero waste is one of the founding principles of Verdonce. Every product in our sustainable homeware range is plastic free and vegan. Our story began as personal mission to eliminate plastic waste in our grocery shopping. But what is plastic waste and why is it such an issue?
What is plastic?
Plastic is man-made from fossil fuels like coal and oil. Cheap and lightweight, strong or weak, thick or thin, plastic is used in tons of things we use from plastic bottles to food packaging and buckets. It has become ubiquitous. It’s even found in tiny quantities as a sealant in the 60bn tea bags used each year in the UK!
So what is the problem with plastic?
Plastic pollutes every corner of the planet
In the last 70 years the explosion of plastic production has permeated every aspect of our lives. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans each year, most of which escapes from the land. Plastic waste can be found on the bottom of the ocean, washes up on our beaches, gets into our food and even into our drinking water. It’s a huge problem for humans, sea life and birds.
40% of plastic is single use
Each year we produce 400 million tonnes of plastic. 40% of this plastic is single use. That means it will be used for a few hours or even just a minutes and then thrown away. The average plastic shopping bag is used for only 8 minutes.
Plastic Takes 500 years or more to degrade, if at all
The problem with plastic is that most of it isn’t biodegradable. It doesn’t compost like paper or food. This means it stays in the environment of hundreds of year. According to Greenpeace we don’t know exactly how long plastic will take to degrade or if it ever will at all. Once it is loose in our seas, rivers and oceans it is practically impossible to clean up.
Plastic is harmful to our health
As well as being a huge problem for wildlife, plastic packaging and products in our homes is also harmful to human health. According to Bea Johnson in Zero Waste Home, there are growing concerns about plastic leaching into our food (such as BPA) and off-gassing into our homes (as is the case with vinyl).
Plastic harms animals
On land or in the sea, animals are especially vulnerable to injury from plastic. Many animals get trapped in plastic bags. When plastic breaks down into smaller pieces many animals mistake it for food. Fish end up with plastic in their stomach which then gets into the food chain. One in three sea turtles and as many as 90% of seabirds have eaten plastic. As well as being toxic it also makes them feel full with no appetite for real food. Each year 100,000 sea animals die from plastic.
Most plastic is never recycled
Recycling plastic is just a myth. According to Greenpeace, just 9% of plastic is recycled globally. In developed nations that figure hardly reaches 50%. Most of the plastic which does get recycled is downcycled into lower value or non-recyclable plastic. This means that even recycled plastic will eventually end up in the landfill. Recycling plastic just delays this inevitable journey to the landfill.
Plastic manufactured from fossil fuels emits pollution
Over 90% of plastic is manufactured from fossil fuels. According to CIEL (Center for International Environmental Law) in 2019 the emissions from plastic manufacturing and incineration equaled that of 189 coal-fired power station. By the middle of the century plastic products will count for 20% of all oil consumption if we continue on the same trajectory.
What can we do about the plastic problem?
As individuals and households the first thing we can do is change what is within our power. That means changing how we consume. The best way to go about this is to reduce waste of whatever type, starting with single use plastics.
The Zero Waste Movement
Bea Johnson, the mother of the Zero Waste Home movement, recommends a 5 step approach to reducing waste. The essence of this approach is simplicity and minimalism. Less is more. That’s what makes it so delightfully irresistible once you give it a try.
The 5 Rs of the zero waste lifestyle
- Refuse what you do not need
- Reduce what you do need
- Reuse what you consume
- Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse
- Rot (compost) the rest
Basic reusables checklist
Getting started with a zero waste home doesn’t mean going out on a shopping spree, throwing out all your plastics and replacing with plastic-free alternatives. Much of what you need can be found in your home already. A great example of this is reusing glass jars and bottles or making cleaning rags from old t-shirts. Here is a list of what we found to be essential items in our transition:
- Reusable water bottles
- Mason jars and glass bottles
- Reusable cloth bags for bulk shopping and bread
- Reusable jute mesh bags for produce like fruit and veg
- Glass or stainless steel containers
- Bamboo toothbrushes
- Natural jute scrubbing cloths for the kitchen surfaces and hand washing the dishes
- Cloth napkins
- Reusable makeup remover pads
80% of the environmental impact of a product stems from the design
We began on our zero waste journey by making our own produce bags. All Verdonce sustainable homeware products are designed, made, tested, used and reused by us.
Each Verdonce product is designed with the 5 Rs in mind allowing you to refuse single use plastics, reduce the unnecessary and reuse over and over again. Many can be repaired and at the end of life can be recycled or composted.
Find out how we can help reduce your plastic waste with our sustainable, zero waste homeware collection.