The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

World Environment Day: Cloth bags, no straws - Tips to alter our single-use-plastic habits

Joanna Demarco Tuesday, 5 June 2018, 12:25 Last update: about 4 years ago

Last week, the European Commission proposed new EU-wide rules to target the single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, which constitute 70 per cent of all marine litter items.

Single-use plastics are items made out of plastic which are usually thrown away after using it once, or after a short period of time.

“Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market,” a report by the commission said.

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Amongst others, the measures include banning plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink sitters and sticks for balloons. Furthermore, single-use drink containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached. By 2025, 90 per cent of single-use plastic drink bottles will also need to be collected by each member state.

Whilst plastic is being clamped down upon from the side of the EU, a report published yesterday by the National Statistics Office showed that the total generation of plastic waste in 2016, (excluding plastic that was disposed of together with other materials), totaled 8.714 tonnes – an increase of 108.2 per cent when compared to 2015.

This is proof that Malta’s plastic issue is urgent. As with many other things, the change must come from the public, from altering the lifestyle habits of each individual. What can we, as consumers, do to reduce our plastic-footprint on a day-to-day basis?

The options are practically endless, but here are five tips which we can easily implement into our lives without any excuses.

 

1.       Carry around a cloth bag when grocery shopping

Cloth bags and tote bags are cheap, fashionable, light, and can conveniently fold comfortably into your handbags, car compartments and trouser pockets with plenty of space to spare. Use them when you go grocery shopping and save from making use of (and purchasing) more plastic bags. Bonus: they also have less chance of ripping.

2.       Use a reusable glass/ stainless steel water bottle

How many small bottles of water do we purchase on a daily basis, especially when we are out and about in the summer months? Plastic water bottles are convenient, affordable and most importantly when fighting a heatwave, cold. But they also massively add on to our plastic waste generation. Reduce your plastic bottle purchasing by buying a reusable glass or stainless steel water bottle and filling it up from home.

3.       Make more use of Malta’s plastic-free shopping places

Shopping usually means packaging, and packaging more often than not means plastic. Friends of the Earth Malta have done a great job in creating a plastic-free map of locations around Malta where you can buy your daily groceries without generating more plastic waste. See the list on their website:

https://foemalta.org/our-campaigns/resource-use/plasticfreepledge/

 

4.       Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush

If we take our dentists advice and change our toothbrush every three months, then that means we will be using four plastic toothbrushes a year. Per person. Bamboo toothbrushes can be used for just as long as ordinary plastic toothbrushes. The only difference is that bamboo is biodegradable and more sustainable.

 

5.       Order drinks without straws

Gone are the days when kiosks, restaurants and bars around Malta provide paper straws. Decrease your plastic footprint by not asking for a straw when ordering for a drink. Alternatively, if you really cannot do without a straw, metal stainless steel straws are becoming more readily available and purchasable online.

 

 

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