Last week, in the first chapter of our blog article “Greetings from Utopia: Can we have a plastic-free world?”, we quoted a whole lot of alarming facts about plastic waste and examined some of the background to the plastic crisis. However, we also found signs of hope. If you haven’t read Chapter 1, you can find it at this link: Chapter 1. Greetings from Utopia: Can we have a plastic-free world?
In this second chapter, as promised, we will now take a close look at our first theme from everyday life as well as some simple measures we can take to reduce plastic waste. From now on, we’ll be suggesting plenty more tips every week in our blog – and we’re sure that we won’t be running out of ideas any time soon. Come with us on this journey! After all, there is strength in unity. J
Your hörbert team
Theme 1: Drinks
Looking at the supermarket shelves, you’ll usually find countless drinks packaged in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or other plastic bottles right at the forefront. They are considerably lighter, so transport is easier and cheaper for the food corporations. However, there are also enormous disadvantages to these types of packaging:
- Even a reusable PET bottle ultimately becomes plastic waste at the end of its life. As we’ve learned, this is not always recycled. It has to be burned or it ends up in the natural environment.
- Moreover, plastic manufacturing just by itself has a negative environmental impact, as it requires crude oil, natural gas and a good many chemicals.
- You can refill a glass bottle up to 50 times but a reusable PET bottle only approximately 25 times.
- German consumer magazine ÖKO-TEST analyzed 71 types of mineral water. Out of the 61 tested samples from PET bottles, 27 of them showed microplastic material that contained antimony.** ÖKO-TEST came to the following conclusion: “If you want mineral water that does not contain any PET microplastics, choose products in reusable glass bottles to be on the safe side. At the moment, it is still completely unclear what effects microplastics in food and drink have on the health.” (Quote from Birgit Hinsch, ÖKO-TEST Editor**)
If you’d prefer not to take any risks and you want to avoid waste at the same time, we have the following tips:
- Buy water and juices in glass bottles (preferably reusable) instead of PET bottles.
By the way, a good deal of new glassware today is made from old glass rather than new silica sand (also called quartz sand). Less energy is consumed and it helps conserve the natural resource of quartz sand. That’s why you should dispose of single-use glass containers at a glass recycling point rather than throwing them into the trash after use.
- If you want flat water, drink it from the kitchen faucet. You can drink the water in Germany without any worries as long as the water pipes are in good condition. If you’d like to get your drinking water tested, you’ll find links to suitable laboratories below.***
- Don’t buy products that have every unit individually packaged in plastic and each one usually having hardly any contents. Your child will no doubt understand why you don’t want to continually buy them sweetened drinks in colorful disposable plastic packaging and they’ll even learn something important from this about protecting the environment.
- You can be a role model for your child – get your coffee-to-go in a reusable thermal mug. Some cafés even give discounts on beverages if you bring your own reusable cup with you. Just ask them…
- Buy milk and yogurt in glass containers. If you don’t go shopping every three days and you use a lot of milk, you could buy at least some of your milk in glass bottles and keep a couple of cartons stashed away for emergencies.
- How about a delicious fruit or herbal tea that’s perfect to take anywhere with you in a thermos bottle or reusable cup, chilled in hot weather or warmed up in winter.
- At some point, we’ll be able to have celebrations and parties again and to meet up for family picnics and barbecues… but please don’t resort to plastic cups. If it has to be single-use tableware, then please go for cardboard or other eco-friendly natural materials.
Do you have any other ideas, anything to vent or any feedback to give?
We’d love to hear any comments you have on this blog and we also invite you to leave a post in our guestbook.
** ÖKO-TEST study of “Microplastics in mineral water”:
ÖKO-TEST study of all mineral waters (reusable PET bottles, single-use plastic and glass bottles):
Article from news portal inFranken.de about the ÖKO-TEST study:
*** Providers of drinking water laboratory tests:
To be on the safe side, have a water test done and send it to a laboratory. Examples of labs that provide this service: