What is your view on Single-Use-Plastic?

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What is your view on Single-Use-Plastic?

Having recently been involved in a Durban beach clean up, I was horrified to see what lands up on our beaches, from soiled nappies to juice box straw covers, wrappers from sweets presented with the bill at restaurants, used earbuds and the list continues. Hence a blog dedicated to PLASTIC!

Source: Ocean Conservancy

Let’s first identify what Single-Use Plastic is?

Single-use plastic refers to all plastic products that are used once and thrown away or recycled. Examples would be plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles, and most food packaging.

The world produces 300 million tons of plastic each year of which half is disposable. Worldwide only 10-13% is recycled.

Petroleum-based plastic is not biodegradable and usually heads straight into landfill sites where it gets broken down into tiny particles. During this process toxic chemicals are released which make their way into our water or food supply. The latest research has shown these chemicals are linked to infertility, impaired immunity and other ailments.

The impact on our marine life is devastating. 100 million marine mammals die from plastic pollution each year.

Image courtesy of Ocean Conservancy

With such danger to your health and our beautiful environment, let’s look at what alternates you could use to assist this WAR on single-use plastic.

  • Firstly, straws: they are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycle sorters, therefore, avoid the plastic and get yourself a metal or glass reusable straw and keep in your bag at all times.
  • Grab a fabric shopper bag and leave in your vehicle for those unexpected visits to the shops. Plastic bags take over 1 000 years to degrade.
  • Reuse containers for storing leftovers.
  • Purchase a travel mug for on-the-go coffee.
  • Avoid buying frozen food, they generally come in a plastic bag and even if in a cardboard box, they still have a thin layer of plastic.
    • Crazy facts: Stop the gum habit! Chewing gum is made of synthetic rubber, Polyisobutylene, which is not biodegradable!

How can the hospitality industry assist?

  • Replace UHT milk containers in rooms with reusable flasks which are more environmentally friendly.
  • Toiletries: Boot the tiny plastic bottles and make use of fixed 300 ml refillable bottles instead.
  • Did you know: The world is dumping 40 million plastic water bottles per day!
    When it comes to water, try an onsite filtration system where guests can refill their own glass or to-go stainless steel bottle.
  • Ge the hotel staff to gather all pieces of plastic they use in their work day at the hotel. Put all these pieces together and decide which of these plastic products you could replace with a healthy alternate.

Create a Facebook poll and ask your audience whether they would miss the mini plastic bottles in the bathrooms or the tiny UHT milk containers. You may be surprised at their responses.

Avoid plastic where you can and if you can’t, sort plastic out from general waste and recycle!

Lori Voss


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