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22 Apr 2024

Earth Day blog: The use of plastics in 2024 and beyond

Earth Day blog: The use of plastics in 2024 and beyond

In this Earth Day blog, Aaron White, Assistant Director of Corporate Services & Sustainability at Oakland Care, reflects on plastic use and offers advice for reducing your plastic footprint.

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is a globally recognised annual event that aims to raise awareness and appreciation for the environment and our planet.

Earth Day has become a global movement providing an important platform for raising awareness about climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and other environmental issues. The event provides an opportunity for individuals, organisations and governments to take action and make a difference in their communities and beyond. This can involve everything from participating in clean-up campaigns and planting trees to advocating for policy changes and reducing one's carbon footprint.

Plastic use: 2024 and beyond

It's hard to imagine a life without plastics of some sort – they are so versatile and useful that we all use them every day without even giving it a thought!

However, plastic use is 20 times greater today than it was 50 years ago.

The average household throws out around 66 items of ‘disposable’ plastic waste every week, and unfortunately not much of it is truly recycled. In fact, up to 75% still ends up in landfill – so less than a quarter of plastic is actually made into something else.

Most of us are aware of the worrying quantities of plastics that end up in the Earth’s oceans. This plastic continually breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, but never disappears entirely. These ‘Microplastics’ can accumulate inside animals with devastating effects.

We all need to think about how we can ensure our plastic footprint is as small as possible in 2024 and beyond.

How can we all help?

It comes down to thinking hard using the principle of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Considering alternatives and being more efficient and resourceful is all it takes to make a big difference. It should even save you money, too!

Reduce: Do I need them in the first place? What alternatives are there?

A few ideas include buying fruit and vegetables loose, using loose leaf tea instead of teabags, refilling plastic water bottles, and getting a reusable coffee cup.

We’ve all got the hang of taking shopping bags out with us now that single use ones are unavailable, so why not the same for a drinks bottle and coffee cup?

At Oakland Care we use mains-fed water coolers instead of providing single-use bottles.

You can swap clingfilm for other food wraps, and even ensure your bin bags are full before changing them.

Phase out using plastic balloons, glitter and other plastic decorations for your celebration days. Instead use some longer-lasting alternatives.

Reuse: ‘Single-use’ doesn’t have to mean ‘single use’!

Reuse old fruit and vegetable containers for growing your own, and plastic water bottles as bird feeders or watering devices for pot plants. In reality no one needs hundreds of these, so ‘Reducing’ in the first place needs to be the main effort.

At Oakland Care we also regularly use disposable plastic items for arts and crafts projects.

Recycle: Whilst recycling is of course essential – don’t forget this still costs energy and other resources to do, and again Reduction of plastic waste (even recycled waste) is still the best option.

When you do place plastic into the recycle bin at home or work, don’t contaminate the recycling waste – check if the plastic can be recycled or not, and ensure that it’s rinsed out if it contained food. If you contaminate the recycling, there’s a chance that the whole batch will be discarded at the recycling plant.

Crush your plastics so they take up less space – this means fewer (plastic) waste bags over the year.

I recently visited a recycling plant and was surprised at how little of the intended ‘recycling waste’ actually made it to the end of the process. So much fails to make the grade required, often due to contamination from other items.

Plastic is incredibly useful – we just need to learn how to value it and use it appropriately!


Oakland Care is proudly ‘The Greener Care Choice’ – certified at Greenmark Level 3, Carbon Neutral since 2020, and a winner at the international ‘Green World Awards’ two years running.



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