My Plastic Problem

At the age of 37 and in the year 2020, I’m actually a bit embarrassed it’s taken me so long to write this post, but that won’t stop me from writing it.

Late in December 2019, I had an epiphany. It came whilst listening to an episode of the Tim Ferriss Show with Tim Ferriss and Tony Fadell, where they were talking about Single-Use Plastic and how a lot of Tony’s work was based around environmental problems, specifically caused by plastic. The podcast’s show-notes linked to a few articles, including these:

I chewed through these in one sitting. These articles linked to others, leading me further down the rabbit hole of statistics, environmental issues, sustainability, climate change etc. In the past 2 to 3 weeks I would have easily spent 30+ hours reading articles, reports, science papers, opinion pieces, etc on the Environmental Issues around Plastic, not to mention the potential health issues with Micro and Nano-Plastics.

I’d been aware of climate change for a long time, believed the science and had a basic understanding of the impact it’s having, however, I was never aware of the seriousness around plastic waste and it’s effects on a global scale.

The epiphany – What have I been doing all these years? How was I so ignorant to this problem? How can I now be part of the solution?

Before I get to the point of this rant, here are a few of the most “punched me in the face” things I’ve learnt so far:

  • Historically, only 9% of plastic waste is actually being recycled, with 12% being incinerated (likely adding a significant amount of Greenhouse Gas to the atmosphere and contributing to Climate Change) with the remaining 79% going to land-fill and the oceans. (1)
  • Any plastic that is being “Recycled” is realistically not being “Recycled” in the way that Aluminium and Glass can. In most cases, Plastic can be recycled once, maybe twice before the material becomes too brittle to re-use. Compare that with Aluminium and Glass which can essentially be recycled an infinite amount of times. (2)
  • Some plastic items can take 1,000 years to decompose and with almost 80% of it going back in to our land and water streams, that ain’t good. (3)
  • By the year 2050, it is estimated that Plastic in the Ocean will outweigh Fish. (4)
  • Scientists are now discovering “Micro Plastics” and “Nano Plastics”- very small particles of Plastic Waste, being found everywhere; on the food we’re eating and in the air we’re breathing. Not enough research has been done yet on the health implications on Micro or Nano-Plastics, but either way, I’m not too keen on ingesting them. (5)

So what does this all mean?

Simple – The plastic we’re using and disposing of, every day, is probably not being recycled, is destroying the environment and is likely affecting our health.

There is a slogan we hear a lot in Australia – “Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle”. For as long as I can remember, the emphasis has always been on the last word – Recycle. It’s now abundantly clear, to me at least, that the words in this slogan are in priority order. We need to focus more on the first two words and when it comes to Single Use Plastic – Recycling should be the last of the three options.

We MUST work to Reduce first, Reuse second and Recycle last.

What are we doing?

Without realising it, VIVO Fitness has employed people who actively work on their environmental impact, individually. When I mentioned this issue a few days ago to Tom Kinsey, our General Manager in Dubai, he held up his Aluminium drinking bottle; he hadn’t drunk water from store-bought plastic bottles in years.

This gives us a lot of confidence that with collective effort and focus, VIVO Fitness can become an “Organisation for Good”, more so than we subconsciously may have been in the past, and we hope this might influence other individuals and organisations if they aren’t already looking at ways to reduce their impact.

We will be regularly sharing articles through our blog and updating our Sustainability Page on ways we, as individuals and as an organisation, are focusing on reducing our Single-Use Plastic Consumption – around our homes, offices and in the work that we do with our customers.

If you would like to receive updates on our progress, along with some tips on how you can help be a part of the solution, drop your email address below to be the first to see future updates.

We may be a bit late to the party, but we’ve arrived and we’re changing things.

Thanks for Reading,

Jeremy

 

PS – Here are 3 quick and cost-effective ways to reduce your own plastic consumption which are working for me personally. We’ve implemented all three ideas at home in Melbourne, Australia.

  • Use 100% recycled toilet paper from a company like Who Gives A Crap. The quality is amazing, plus it’s packaged in recycled paper and cardboard. #NoPlastic
  • An obvious one, but I still see a lot of people carrying groceries in plastic bags – Use Fabric Tote Bags instead of Plastic Bags when you buy groceries. We have a few Boomerang Bags, which have been made using recycled fabric.  #NoPlastic
  • Use Soap Bars instead of Shower Gels in Plastic packaging. We’re trying Dr Bronner products; so far so good. #NoPlastic

 

References:
(1) https://borgenproject.org/10-facts-about-plastic-waste-in-southeast-asia/
(2) https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/10/5-recycling-myths-busted-plastic/
(3) http://storage.neic.org/event/docs/1129/how_long_does_it_take_garbage_to_decompose.pdf
(4) https://www.businessinsider.com.au/plastic-in-ocean-outweighs-fish-evidence-report-2017-1?r=US&IR=T
(5) https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/04/microplastics-pollution-falls-from-air-even-mountains/