Single Use: Rick Astley Your Products
No, I don't mean sing never gonna give you up to your dish brush. Although, should you feel the need to, please do upload said singing on social media and tag us - ideally while cradling your favourite reusable item.
Single use products and packaging are designed to be used once and then disposed of or destroyed. It's the most wasteful concept invented, and whilst predominantly centred around plastic in the headlines, it's more than just plastic food packaging. Here are a few non-plastic single use examples of actual products:
- Bamboo or paper straws
- Coffee Cups
You could argue that these are often made from paper and are recyclable. Right? Well, kind of but that's not the point. For one, paper is made up of long fibers, so every time it is recycled, those fibers will be shortened and make it harder to be recycled the next time. It depends on what paper you start with, but on average you can recycle paper 5-6 times. Regardless, instead of thinking of what we do with the waste, let's go up a couple steps to whether we even need the product in he first place.
Only one of the four examples above is currently a semi-necessary evil: the coffee cup. A coffee shop not offering takeaway cups in a competitive environment and today's society will lose out on customers and could end up losing its business; it depends on the circumstances. As consumers, we should always opt for bringing our own reusable coffee mugs or drinking it in the shop instead. Ideally, as a business, coffee shops should (and often do) provide a discount for you bringing your own since it also saves them money.
What about the other three examples? For the straws, it's simple enough to carry a reusable metal straw if you need one. For sachets and stirrers, they never used to exist. Instead, we could have condiment dispensers. Unfortunately, the responsibility for this lies with the businesses more than the consumer. The best thing consumers can do is avoid establishments that don't offer these alternatives, preferably after politely mentioning it.
By focusing on using and buying products that are designed to be reusable, we save resources and help protect our planet. It's not always easy and a lot of products are designed to break after a certain amount of time or uses, but, by consciously thinking about our buying decisions we can opt for the superior options.