Reduce Plastic Waste
Why is Plastic a Problem?
For one thing, not all plastic is bad. It's all in how we use it. Plastic is very useful in many applications because it is light weight and easy to mold into precise shapes for parts, etc.
The problem with plastic is with "single use" plastic. Single use plastic refers to disposable plastic containers, bags and other products that are meant to be used just once, then disposed of when the product is used up.
Plastic is long-lasting, which is why it's good for things that are meant to be used over and over for many years. After all, if it doesn't fail, then there's no need to keep buying replacements, which is a good thing. This durability of plastic is the very reason that it's not suitable for single use. If the plastic bottle, for example, doesn't break down in the landfill, it just sits there for decades, building up and taking up space forever. Does this feel like a sustainable balance with our planet? We don't think so.
Humans on this planet have used so much plastic in just the past two generations that plastic is now ubiquitous in the environment. It's everywhere. There is no corner in the world today that is free of plastic detritus. The problem with plastic is that, even though it doesn't break down completely, it gets brittle over time and fragments into tiny particulates, known as microplastics. These microplastics are everywhere. The plastics are polluting our waters and killing marine fisheries, when newly hatched fish fry mistake the tiny particles for food, and end up clogging their tiny digestive systems and dying. Scientists have determined that there are now more microplastics in the oceans than there are fish. That's when you know it's bad.
In the U.S., we consume about 38 million tons/year of plastic annually, and only about 25% of plastic is currently recycled. We must stop this over consumption that is killing our planet and our wildlife. We can stop this insanity. If everybody in the U.S. stopped using single-use plastic, we would prevent around 10 - 20 billion containers from entering our landfills annually, including toothpaste tubes, deodorant containers, lotion bottles, dish and household soap bottles. And that's just the personal care products we use. Think about all the food we buy. If we bought all that in bulk, we could save even more. We would also eliminate a lot of petrochemicals and pollution associated with manufacturing these containers, which is a huge part of the carbon footprint of plastic. The reduction in our carbon footprint would be enormous. And, the good news is, it's easy to do, if we try.
First, always buy bulk. If you buy in bulk, you keep refilling the same container, instead of throwing it away. Not only does buying in bulk save plastic, it also saves money. Every time we buy a product in a single-use plastic container, it adds about $1 to the cost of the product, just for the container. Wow. That means that if you go to the store and buy, say 20 items in bottles, you just spent at least $20 just on the packaging. That can add up to thundreds of dollars a month! So, why would we spend a bunch of extra money for something that we will use just once and then dispose of? Does that make sense? What a waste! And, it's not just the waste of money, it takes materials, energy and resources to make these containers that we don't even need. Big factories are churning out millions of containers every second, polluting and consuming and increasing the human impact on our environment. All so we can use a bottle once and throw it away.
Second, if you do have plastic to dispose of, recycle it. All plastic is infinitely recyclable, as long as it is cleaned properly and placed in a recycling bin. We all need to be responsible for the products we buy, and what happens to the containers after we buy the products.
Sadly, most personal care products are in packages that are intended for single use. If you go to a grocery store and look around, you will see nothing but single-use packaging, with few exceptions. It seems that society has forced us to use single-use packaging with everything we buy, and we have to really seek out the ways to avoid single-use packaging.
How Aspire Can Help
Aspire products are all available in bulk. You can fill your own container with bulk personal care products, or purchase a packaged product from Aspire the first time, and then refill it with more bulk product when you run out.
You can buy Aspire products directly from our on-line store, or check out our store directory to find a store near you that carries Aspire products. Our products can be found in several stores in the front range. In addition to Aspire products, you will also find all kinds of other products available in bulk in these same stores, that will help you stop using single-use plastics.
Aspire is hosting recycling boxes for plastic products that are difficult to recycle. At our Golden location, we have boxes for the following:
Recycling for Oral Hygiene, including toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes. Get rid of your toothpaste tube for the last time, and start using refillable Aspire Tooth Powder!
Recycling for Razors and Blades.
Recycling for Pens and Markers.
None of these products can be recycled in a curb-side single-stream recycling bin. If you throw these kinds of items into the bin, it's just wishful thinking. They will be culled out at the recycling facility and end up the the landfill. So, it easier to just throw it in the trash in the first place. Be responsible about plastic use, and make sure the plastic you use is recycled properly. At least by keeping it in the "circular economy" it will be re-used and won't pollute the environment.
What is the "circular economy"? It is an economy where everything we consume is recycled, so that, instead of constantly extracting more materials from the earth, petroleum, minerals, etc., we keep the materials within our economy and keep reusing them. The circular economy is crucial in getting our consumption in balance with what our planet can provide. Recycling really does save energy and resources, so as a last resort it helps a lot. That said, the best thing we can all do is stop using single use plastic entirely.