How does Plastic Waste affect your Carbon Footprint?

Scientific studies are continually coming out with new research showing the consequences of plastic pollution from when it was first produced. Nearly all plastic that has ever been made still exists somewhere in the world.


With every piece taking anywhere up to 1000 years to degrade, if our world still suffers from the first piece ever made, what detriment is being caused by our continual use?

When the term ‘Carbon Footprint’ is used, it refers to how much an individual, company, collective, etc. contributes to CO2 emissions by their actions.

This can be from driving a vehicle, industrial processes, flying or many other things, but most people and businesses now apply carbon offsetting to help maintain a neutral contribution to global warming. Here, we’re specifically looking at plastic waste and how a reduction in this can reduce someone's carbon footprint.

Plastic’s carbon footprint begins at its manufacturing. Made of synthetic or semi-synthetic compounds that use energy to be formed into the desired shapes, sizes and densities. It’s then transported from the manufacturer to companies to use.

Once packaged it’s then sent out, either straight to consumers or shop floors for sale. Paid for by us, taken home, used and then thrown away. It’s recorded that only 6.5% of plastic produced is actually recycled. It could end up in landfill, other countries or the ocean.

Here are our easiest tips to have the biggest impact on reducing our plastic waste that anyone can start now.


1. The Weekly Shop

Forget the plastic bag, even if it’s a reusable bag. Although it’s marketed to be better for our environment and costs an extra few pennies it’s still going to end up the same as the rest of the plastic bags.

Consider purchasing a bag or two made of a sustainable material that’s going to last a lot longer and once finished with will biodegrade. This is the same for produce. Some supermarkets now offer paper bags which is a good alternative, but your natural shopping bag isn’t going to make your veg sweat anyway.

If you do like keeping things organised, we now have alternatives like cotton produce bags.


2. Beauty Products

A percentage of the beauty industry creates products with microbeads in them. This can be your traditional face scrub to your blusher. These are leaching into water systems and causing problems to ecosystems, whilst contributing to our individual carbon footprints. The next time you purchase your favourite products, consider the non plastic alternative.


3. Switch your Recycling Bins

We often have our main bin easily accessible. Move this to a different place, even outside, and put the recycling bin in its place.

To change this normal habit and have to go somewhere else to use our normal bin, we become more conscious of how much plastic we’re throwing away and inturn, when purchasing new items, are more likely to consider where they will end up.

Although there are many contributors to our carbon footprints, plastic waste comes with an uncertainty of what its consequences will be in over 1000 years.


The Atlantic contains ten times the amount of plastic than previously thought. ( Brinkwire, 2020 )


With the unknown being potentially devastating to our environment, by reducing our individual plastic waste now, we can be the change our environment needs.

 By Remy Harman for The Wise Bean Journal

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