Stainless steel is the most recycled material in the world. All stainless steel can be remelted and reformed into another stainless steel object, making it 100% recyclable. The International Stainless Steel Forum Stainless concluded that globally 60% of Stainless steel matter is recycled for future use. While it may appear that on a global level we are working towards a sustainable environment through recycling, sadly only 5% of the plastics we produce globally are recovered (5 Gyres, 2010).
Unfortunately, around 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods, and the rest of it remains “unaccounted for”, lost in the environment where it eventually flows into our oceans through storm drains and watersheds. The consequences of plastic pollution are detrimental to our sea life, as it degrades, releases chemicals, accumulates in oceanic gyres and takes marine life. Fortunately, there are different measures and alternatives we can use to avoid making matters worse.
Plastic pollution has become a growing world wide epidemic, obstructing our waterways, spoiling marine ecosystems, and entering the marine food web. As more plastic rubbish is dumped into our drains and flowing from our watersheds to the sea, scientists are discovering that plastic debris is accumulating in the each of the 5 oceanic gyres, massive, slow rotating whirlpools which circulate water around the world.
As today’s plastics have been designed to last, the debris that has been carelessly transported in the gyre will not break down for decades or longer, and will slowly be pushed in spiral towards the centre, leaving large mounds of toxic waste.
While some plastics such as Polycarbonate, Polystrene, and PETE sink to the bottom of the ocean, others like LDPE, HDPE, and foamed plastics continue to float on the surface. The debris which stays a float is gradually broken down into tiny particles by the sun and wave action out at sea, but is never completely degraded. This fragmented plastic pollution in the gyres is becoming a significant concern for marine wildlife, and ultimately a health hazard for humans too.
According to the 5 Gyres Organisation “44% of all seabird species, 22% of Cetaceans, all sea turtle species, and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies”. As the plastic debris fragments into tiny particles, marine life are consuming the toxic waste, presumably mistaking it for food, leading to internal obstructions, dehydration, starvation, toxin poison and death.
While our marine life’s wellbeing is in danger, there is also an extreme concern for society as we are susceptible to the potential human health impacts of toxic chemicals entering the marine food chain through the plastic debris. This concern raises the question whether the toxic chemicals in plastics are absorbed into the tissues and blood of the marine life consuming the plastic particles, and whether these chemicals will pass through the food chain, and potentially enter our bodies when we eat seafood.
What Can We Do?
While this issue is becoming out of control there are numerous ways we can help to minimise any further effects. Naturally Sustainable is a Queensland based company focused on providing environmentally-friendly and healthy alternatives to plastic products such as drinking bottles and lunch boxes. We offer a range of premium quality reusable life-style products that encourage responsible and sustainable practices. Switching to reusable products like these and making little changes to your everyday life is just one way we can begin to make a difference.
One of our environmentally friendly alternative brands is the ECOtanka’s. ECOtanka’s are drinking bottles made from 304 food grade stainless steel. They are completely safe, extremely hygienic, non-leaching and non-tainting, while also being 100% recycled and reusable. The range has a variety of sizes from 350ml to 2L bottles, and also has a mixture of interchangeable lids including sports caps and stainless steel screw tops. An additional bonus about our ECOtanka range is that we offer bulk purchasing discounts.
Stainless Steel drink bottles and lunch boxes available from Ecolateral