The “Five R’s” for Fighting Plastic Pollution
We grew up learning about the “three R’s” of waste of management: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. But did you know that two more “R’s,” “Refuse” and “Remove,” have been recently added to the list of best practices to fight plastic pollution. In recognition of Earth Month 2018 and its theme of ending plastic pollution, we wanted to outline the “five R’s” and explain how you can incorporate these best practices into your daily life.
REDUCE is all about the virtue of conservation and the notion of doing more with less. It is the first and most important step of confronting the plastic waste problem. When you initially reduce the amount of plastic you consume in the first place, the harms of that plastic, including greenhouse gas emissions, are lessened. Furthermore, the remaining “R’s” become easier because there is less plastic to address down the line. Consumer product companies can also reduce the amount of plastic in their packaging and you can choose to support products that utilize less. At Cleanyst, we mainly ship active ingredients in the form of concentrates and this approach requires a minimal amount of plastic packaging compared to traditional products that are mostly water by weight.
REFUSE is the second of the “five R’s” of waste of management. “Refuse” goes hand in hand with “Reduce” because you can easily cut your plastic consumption by refusing to accept certain types of plastic products. The next time you are offered that plastic straw or plastic shopping bag for an item you can just as easily carry away without the bag, please just politely refuse it! The positive impact might seem small, but it will add up over time, especially if we all do our share and refuse unnecessary plastic.
REUSE happens to be our favorite of the “five R’s” because all of our bottles are designed to be reusable for years to come. Reuse is an incredibly powerful step you can take to fight plastic pollution because it effectively eliminates the need for a particular plastic product, not to mention all of the resources, energy and greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing that product. Reusing your water bottles or grocery bags are two common examples of how you can harness the power of reuse in your daily life. Our mixing platform will add another simple opportunity for bottle reuse in coming months.
RECYCLE is probably the step that everyone is familiar with since it seems to get the most attention. “Recycling” is what you should do when you are unable to reduce, refuse or reuse your plastic products. By recycling, you reduce the amount of waste going into a landfill and help to ensure that your plastic waste will get another life after its initial use, ideally in the form of the same product you are recycling (e.g., bottles get recycled into other bottles). Recycling also serves to lessen the demand for virgin plastic resources, which produces more greenhouse gas emissions compared to recycled plastic resin. Remember that not all plastics are recyclable however. Always check the rules of your local recycling program and be sure to follow them to prevent contaminating the recycling stream with non-recyclable plastics.
REMOVE is the last of the “five R’s” of waste management. “Remove” is what you do when all of the other “R’s” have been exhausted and you find plastic waste that has escaped collection systems and wound up in the natural environment. Remember that most plastics take hundreds of years to degrade when out in the environment, where it can cause harm to our health and to natural ecosystems. The next time you see that piece of plastic where it shouldn’t be, please remove it and know that you’ll be making the world a better place each time. You can also participate in a local clean-up initiative, or support a nonprofit organization that is working to solve the problem through environmental education, advocacy and empowerment.
We hope you will join us in the fight to end plastic pollution for Earth Month 2018. Remember the “five R’s” outlined above and be sure to incorporate these best practices in your daily routine to make a meaningful difference.