Fighting pollution begins at home

2015-07-22 06:01
A walk down the street or on the beach will reveal polystyrene take-away containers, plastic bottles and bags of all shapes and sizes littering the environment. PHOTO: sourced

A walk down the street or on the beach will reveal polystyrene take-away containers, plastic bottles and bags of all shapes and sizes littering the environment. PHOTO: sourced

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PLASTIC pollution in the ocean begins far inland, and often in every neighbourhood. A walk down the street or on the beach will reveal polystyrene take-away containers, plastic bottles and bags of all shapes and sizes littering the environment.

Polystyrene containers have revolutionised the food industry, keeping food fresh longer and making take-away meals a firm favourite. Yet polystyrene pollution is endemic. Polystyrene can be successfully recycled, as can most plastics. The polystyrene can be collected, broken down or melted and used to make new products. PET plastics like water and cooldrink bottles can also be recycled.

The flow of plastics into the ocean can be slowed dramatically by preventing plastics from getting to the water in the first place. Most plastic washes down rivers and stormwater pipes during heavy rains. Ideally, plastic should never get into the sea.

Recycling plastic to make new products could use less energy, create less pollution and save natural resources. Plastic recycling could create extra income and employment, and even reduce littering.

Everyone can do something about plastic pollution.

Begin a small recycling initiative at home. Find a few different coloured containers, clearly labelled, and decide in which bag to deposit used water bottles, cling wrap or shampoo bottles. Ensure that polystyrene is clean and free of plastic film, loose parts or glued-on cardboard. Rinse out any bottles before dropping them in the bin.

Bottles take up a lot of space, so they should be scrunched up and flattened. Plastic bags can go into a separate container, as they have a different recycling process.

Reuse plastic shopping bags as carriers or rubbish bags in the kitchen or bathroom. Putting kitchen refuse into smaller bags every day can also keep the kitchen smelling fresh and flies out of your home. Buy shopping bags that are made from recycled plastic – they’re stronger, last longer and are more environmentally friendly.

Sorting household waste is a small but vital action that can have far reaching consequences. Plastic can be taken to local DSW garden refuse sites for recycling.

Local conservancies do regular beach and river clean-ups throughout the year. Contact Toti Conservancy on 031 903 1961 or for more information. - Barbra d’Engle

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