It's important to mitigate the impact of plastic

As consumers and customers, we have the power to enact a difference in how we manage our consumption, production and waste habits and, in turn, the impact on our environment.

By Habiba Al Mar'ashi (Green View)

Published: Thu 14 Jun 2018, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:01 AM

To quite simply put it, plastic is efficient. It benefits from being exceptionally versatile in how it's used, and there's no shortage in production. In fact, its high demand pushes its high production. You are essentially surrounded by plastic in your everyday life as a variety of commodities you invest in are, in some shape or form, made in part by plastic. One needs only to look around their desk, the kitchen counter, office space, or even their bedside to realise that plastic has become an unavoidable aspect of our lives.
I quote from the National Geographic on the mass production of plastic that states: ". 8.3 billion metric tonnes (have been produced)" with most of it becoming, "disposable products that end up as trash." This is further worsened by the fact that plastic takes centuries to degrade and this ensures that it remains in its natural form for the foreseeable future. The consequences of plastic production are imminent and apparent, and it's time there is an end to the production.
It doesn't take an environmentalist to objectively observe the impacts that plastic has had on the environment, wildlife, and the average consumer. This may naturally provoke people to begin questioning the sustainability and viability of plastic production.
We can begin a frame of questioning with this: Can the conventional consumer fight against the impacts of plastic pollution? It's a loaded question to say the least, but it does warrant attention. We, as consumers, facilitate and perpetuate the use of plastic. It's only sensible that we begin mitigating its impacts as well.
People are becoming more aware of the impact plastic has on the world. For example, UK supermarkets have initiatives that address the reduction and removal of plastic packaging for food items. This was in response to UK shoppers taking it upon themselves to remove the plastic packing and wrapping of products, and leaving it for the supermarket to handle.
As one customer from a Tesco supermarket branch states in a video report by SWNS TV, "The idea is to make a nuisance of ourselves ... because if they find it too easy, they won't bother. They'll carry on doing everything in plastic."
In the UAE as well, a few supermarkets are initiating change. Brands like Waitrose and Spinney are considering charging for the use of plastic bags. This is where sentiment arises and the power of the individual comes into play. Entities that are most at fault with regard to plastic waste need to be provoked through substantive gestures that prove people are starting to acknowledge the impact of plastic and have decided that enough is enough.
So what powers do we have as people? We have the power to choose whether we indulge in the excessive use of plastic or not. Bringing your own mug, rather than taking a plastic coffee cup from your local coffee shop, can inspire necessary change. To use a reusable bag when shopping, rather than taking home plastic bags, will also give the same result. One important change may also be to steer away from the concept of single-use packaging and containers, whether it is bottles and cans or the plastic packaging used to hold various food products.
As consumers and customers, we have the power to enact a difference in how we manage our consumption, production and waste habits and, in turn, the impact on our environment. If we are serious in our pursuit, I believe we can go so far as to inspire change, that is if we choose to be the change we hope to see tomorrow.
Habiba Al Mar'ashi is President/CEO, Arabia CSR Network

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