Let's get to the heart of the issue: plastic pollution is a problem for our health, environment and communities. We can't recycle our way out of this, and every small individual action can add up to make a difference for future generations.
Let's break down the 6 most impactful reasons to make 2023 the year we cut back on single-use plastic and start refilling, just like our ancestors did back in the day.
1 - Plastic is a Major Polluter
The use of plastics has increased twentyfold in the past 50 years. While the material has many benefits, we know there are many negative consequences in the form of pollution, environmental degradation and human health.
Only 9% of plastic ever produced has ever been recycled. The rest accumulates in landfills, the natural environment or is burned, releasing harmful toxins and greenhouses gasses.
2 - Plastic Recycling is Harmful to Human Health
Plastic contains toxic chemicals that cause serious health problems. When recycled, those toxins are released into the local environment, threatening the health of those that work and live nearby.
Human Rights Watch research found that plastic recycling facility workers and nearby residents can be exposed to harmful chemicals when they inhale toxic dust or fumes emitted during the recycling process, which threatens their right to health. This exposure to air pollution puts workers and residents at the risk of developing significant life-long health conditions, including cancer and reproductive system harms.
3 - Plastic Production is Exactrive
Many people don't know this, but the vast majority of plastic is made from oil. Therefore, the more plastic we use, the more oil we're extracting and causing more harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, between 4 and 8 percent of oil produced globally is used to make plastics. This is about the same amount of oil consumed each year by the global aviation sector. And the impact doesn't stop at greenhouse gas emissions.
4 - Plastics Disproportionately Harm BIPOC Communities
A 2021 United Nations report notes that the impact of plastics on marginalized populations are severe and exist at all stages of the production cycle, from extracting raw materials and manufacturing, through consumption and disposal.
Furthermore, a study found that 75% of the 73 garbage incinerators in the US are located in BIPOC communities.
5 - Refills Reduce Plastic Pollution & Emissions
To curb our plastic problem, we must reduce the amount of plastic being produced and consumed, especially for single-use purposes. Refilling and reusing containers is an easy way to reduce the amount of plastic needed in the world.
A 2020 scientific review of reusables found that across all categories, relying on reusable containers cuts down greenhouse gas emissions over using single-use packaging.
6 - Refills Reduce Plastic Packaging Waste
The Ellen Macarthur Foundation reviewed a refill system pilot in the Czeck Republic and found that refills reduce packaging waste by 90%, even when plastic was used as the refill container!
Start Your Refilling Journey
Remember, the goal isn't perfection: it's progress. Plastics aren't going away anytime soon, but taking small, strategic steps can help reduce our reliance on single-use plastics and move towards a cleaner planet.
Have refill questions? Let us know in the comments below.