Is all plastic bad?

I’ve just been asked a good question by somebody new to all of this. The question was… ‘Why is plastic bad if I use the product, a shower gel for example and then put it in the recycling?’

The answer is, not all plastic is bad! The party share collection for example, it can reused time after time. Tupperware containers to store things in the fridge, excellent because you can wash them out and use them again and again.

What’s not great is single use, disposable and non recyclable plastic. Plastic coffee stirrers for example, plastic cotton buds, lids on takeaway coffee cups, black plastic straws, clingfilm over mushrooms in the supermarket (and clingfilm in general) which cannot be recycled at all anywhere and take something ridiculous like 500 years to break down.

So as far as shower gel bottles and shampoo bottles goes. Yes they’re not truly single use, as in not a split second use then discarded. You may get 10-15 uses out of a shower gel (depending on how much you use!). But that bottle then goes into the recycling bin, the waste team come along in a big truck to collect it, it then goes off somewhere else to be sorted, shredded, melted down, made into pellets which are then used to make other plastic products. Great because no new plastic is being made to replace this but the energy involved in this process is huge because it involves heat and also oil – a finite resource. (Thank you Katie Allen for this nugget.) Even if the company use renewable energy, its still energy that could be being used to power houses instead of plastic recycling factories. Furthermore, plastic cannot be recycled time after time, it can only be processed a few times – unlike glass! (Thank you to Ceri Mayers for this additional information.)

When there are alternatives out there that have no waste whatsoever like bars of soap, shampoo bars, companies who refill a bottle time after time after time – it just makes sense overall to try to cut out ‘single use plastic’ where possible. Of course this is dependent on so many things like affordability, availability, and personally liking the choice available.

If you make a decision to change one thing and it’s to take a water bottle out with you instead of buying a bottle of water or to purchase a razor that will last forever then that’s fantastic. Continue putting your shampoo bottle in the recycling – at least we know it’s not ending up in the sea, as litter which can harm wildlife, or landfill! Xx