Time’s up for throwaway culture – Dawn Woodard Curaprox UKFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 7th October 2019
Throwaway culture refers to the excessive production and over consumption of short-lived, single-use items. This is ultimately having a substantial impact on the way we deal with waste. The UK prides itself on being a world leader in ethical and responsible waste disposal, but even our developed infrastructure is straining under the weight of the waste we produce annually – over 200 million tonnes of it, in fact.[i]Some experts predict that our inability to deal with waste effectively and sustainably will lead to more of it being dumped in landfill or incinerated, thereby contributing to increased pollution and environmental destruction.
Manufacturers are now being criticised for producing and supplying cheap goods that are disposable as opposed to durable, which encourages people to consume them quickly before throwing them away in favour of newer items. Like many other industries, the clothing and textiles sector is currently fuelling this throwaway culture through so-called “fast fashion”, whereby items are being sold so cheap that they are regarded as single-use purchases. It is estimated that £140 million worth of clothing ends up in landfill each year, but much of this may be incinerated in the near future in order to manage the sheer quantity of textile waste being produced.[ii]
It seems the food industry is no better when it comes to throwaway culture. Plastic food packaging, in particular, has revolutionised the way we store and consume food, enabling people to foster a lunch-on-the-go habit that generates 10.7 billion items of packaging waste each year.[iii]A lot of this is not recyclable as it is produced from mixed materials or contaminated by food residue. Drink bottles are the most popular form of single-use, plastic packaging that can be recycled, but just over half of the 38.5 million plastic bottles used in the UK every day are recycled. The rest are disposed of in landfill, burned or eventually find their way into our oceans, causing further damage to the environment.[iv]
Within the health and dental care industries, disposable single-use items are also contributing to the global waste crisis, putting greater pressure on dental manufacturers to consider environmentally-friendly solutions for single-use goods. Many companies are already supplying oral healthcare products that can be reused or recycled. Curaprox, for instance, offers patients CPS interdental brushes that are innovatively designed with a reusable handle and a replaceable brush head. This makes CPS interdental brushes last up to five times longer than traditional alternatives available on the market, thus helping patients reduce, reuse and recycle as much of their waste as possible.
We can no longer afford to use the countryside or the oceans as dumping grounds for our throwaway culture. It is important that we all take steps to follow a more responsible, environmentally-friendly lifestyle, if we are to leave the planet in a better state than when we inherited it.
[i]Whittaker, L. and Ashton, P. (2019) Digital Revolution: transforming waste management in the UK. Gov.uk. Link: https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/2019/01/31/digital-revolution-transforming-waste-management-in-the-uk/. [Last accessed: 25.07.19].
[ii]WRAP. (2019) Clothing. Link: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/clothing-waste-prevention. [Last accessed: 25.07.19].
[iii]Hubbub. (2019) Hubbub’s new #FoodSavvy Lunch Club campaign encourages a rethink of ‘lunch on the go’ routines to reduce good and packaging waste. Link: https://www.hubbub.org.uk/FAQs/hubbubs-new-foodsavvy-lunch-club-campaign-encourages-a-rethink-of-lunch-on-the-go-routines-to-reduce-food-and-packaging-waste. [Last accessed: 25.07.19].
[iv]Recycle Now. (2019) What to do with plastic bottles. Link: https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/plastic-bottles-0. [Last accessed: 25.07.19].
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