It’s clear that plastic waste affects more than just the environment - it carries significant implications for social justice and human rights as well
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Plastic waste is not only an environmental hazard; it also carries a significant economic cost. According to the World Bank, a staggering $80 – $120 billion dollars are lost each year due to the mismanagement of plastic materials. This includes higher costs for waste disposal, infrastructure damage, water and air pollution and health care bills related to diseases caused by exposure to toxic chemicals present in plastics.
What’s worse is that many countries have limited capacity to address the issue due to inadequate collection systems, insufficient waste management facilities and weak enforcement of regulations on producers of plastic goods. The lack of financial investment in such infrastructure can be a major barrier towards progress and can lead to even more costs in the long-term.
The economic implications of plastic waste are far-reaching and should not be overlooked. It’s clear that governments all over the world must develop effective strategies for tackling this issue if we are ever going to make headway towards achieving a more sustainable future.
Plastic waste has been identified as having a major impact on social justice, with the most vulnerable populations often bearing the greatest burden of this global issue.
In low-income countries, for example, inadequate waste management infrastructure can lead to large and unsafe dumpsites in urban areas, exposing residents to hazardous chemicals and pollution. These dumps are rarely monitored or regulated which can contribute to serious health problems and leave citizens without access to basic safety protections.
The production of plastic items is also connected to social injustice. With many goods being produced in third world countries with poor labor standards and lax regulations, workers are subjected to long hours, dangerous conditions and exploitative wages - all in pursuit of producing goods at lower costs for richer consumers abroad.
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It’s clear that plastic waste affects more than just the environment; it carries significant implications for social justice and human rights as well. Governments must do more to enforce higher labor standards, ensure adequate waste management facilities and protect communities from the dangers posed by plastic pollution if we are going to create widespread positive change.
Other than the use of single-use plastics, there are many reasons plastic waste has gone out of control. For example, one of them is rampant gift-giving for various occasion throughout the year. Here are some tips for reducing plastic waste in this context:
Use reusable wrapping paper and decorations: Wrap gifts in fabric or paper that can be reused or recycled; choose decorations made from sustainable materials such as wood or cork instead of plastic-based ones.
Shop locally: Opt to support small businesses and local makers by buying handmade goods that don’t involve excessive packaging or transport emissions - this is a great way to support the community while trying to keep your carbon footprint low.
Ditch single-use items: Avoid using throwaway items such as disposable party cups, straws and plates; opt for reusable alternatives instead which will not only save you money in the long run but also significantly reduce your waste output over time.
Reuse gift bags or boxes: If you have leftover gift bags/boxes from previous years, opt to reuse them rather than buy new ones each year - this small step can save on resources while helping cut down on unnecessary spending at the same time.
Buy Eco-friendly gifts: Choose gifts that can be reused, refilled or repaired; this will help ensure the item doesn’t get thrown away after use, leading to reduced landfill waste and less reliance on new resources being created each year.
Some nations have resorted to plastic bans to combat the plastic waste crisis. The implementation of a plastic ban is becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world as governments strive to reduce waste and create more sustainable living environments.
Plastic bans typically involve restricting or prohibiting the use of certain types of single-use plastics and polystyrene containers. This can include items such as shopping bags, straws and food packaging which are made from non-biodegradable materials.
The success of such policies relies on strong enforcement measures, effective communication among stakeholders and a cohesive plan for transitioning away from plastic products towards more sustainable alternatives. Despite some issues with regards to cost and public acceptance, several countries have already implemented partial or complete bans on single-use plastics with positive results.
This is just one step towards addressing the global plastic waste crisis but it’s an important one that should be explored by all countries striving to bring about meaningful change and not allowing discrimination to flourish - the root cause of social injustice.
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The SustainabilityX® Magazine is an award-winning, digital, female-founded, and female-led non-profit initiative bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue. Founded on May 8, 2016 and inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability Leadership awardee, Supriya Verma, the digital media initiative focuses on approaching the world’s most pressing challenges with a holistic, integrated, systems-based perspective as opposed to the traditional and ineffective siloed approach with a single lens on interdisciplinary topics like climate and energy. This initiative ultimately seeks to explore how to effectively bring the environment and economy together through intellectual, insightful dialogue and thought-provoking discussion amongst individuals across sectors taking an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to untangling the intricate web of sustainability.
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