In a new alert, environmental experts point out that the rigorous fight against the use of plastic may be diverting attention from other urgent dangers for the environment. A panel made up of 13 professionals states that the war against plastics is an important campaign, but it should not be treated as a single campaign and must be converted into changes in consumption habits.
A scientific article published in the magazine WIREs Water highlighted an enormous neglect experienced by the world today: the problem is far beyond plastic. It is a fact that microplastics considerably affect marine life, take hundreds of years to decompose, have little added value for garbage collectors who collaborate in selective collection and have low potential for reuse while not treated, but they are not the only problems.
The campaign for environmental protection focused not only on plastic, but on exaggerated and harmful consumption habits for the planet. According to the article, there are materials that do more damage than plastic itself – including gases emitted by factories, vehicles and agriculture; but these topics were eclipsed by the importance given to combating the use of plastic in packaging.
However, the alternatives presented to avoid plastic are of little value if not to aggravate the situation even further and diversify the waste produced by humans. Glass, metals and paper are just as harmful, and even though they are more easily compacted because they are less resilient and significantly denser materials, they have no advantages if not converted into new consumption habits.
“This is a key moment to highlight and address areas such as the ‘culture of throwing away’ from society and reshaping waste management,” says Professor Tom Stanton, from the University of Nottingham, UK. “However, if we continue to prioritize plastic, that opportunity will be lost,” he added.
Our daily trash
If eliminating plastic from the routine does not solve the problem, we must think of other indispensable solutions to contain climate change and preserve the lives of other species. It is important to raise awareness and reflect on consumption habits, on the amount of waste produced daily and what the potential of this waste is for the world.
Solid residues are materials discarded by humans, but which still have commercial value or potential for reuse. This characteristic is present in several packages discarded daily and which, if not properly sent to competent authorities or professionals, will be discarded with waste – this non-reusable material, such as hospital waste, personal hygiene material – and will waste its potential.
Therefore, the recommendation is to research. Adhering to composting, looking for selective collection measures around the city, understanding the routine of waste pickers and saving materials that would previously go to waste are important measures that everyone can (and should) adopt. Research and reflect on your own routine: “Am I being a bigger problem than plastic?”.