When you begin to reduce your waste, it can be easy to feel enticed to buy state-of-the-art “eco-friendly” products, from glass food savers to beeswax cloths to, yes, brand-new composters created out of new or recycled plastic. But, did you know many of these products are created out of greed from big brands using greenwashing?
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is the practice of making misleading or false environmental claims about a product, service, or organization in order to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. It is a form of marketing that is designed to make a product or service appear more environmentally friendly than it actually is.
Examples of greenwashing can include labeling a product as "natural" or "eco-friendly" without any clear criteria for what that means, or using images of nature or environmental messaging to imply that a product is sustainable without any evidence to support those claims.
Greenwashing can be harmful because it can mislead consumers into believing that they are making environmentally responsible choices when they are not. This can lead to a false sense of security and prevent consumers from seeking out truly sustainable alternatives.
Why is it bad to buy a composter made of out new or recycled plastic?
Plastic consumption is a problem for quite a few reasons:
Non-biodegradable: Most plastics are not biodegradable, meaning they do not break down naturally over time. This means that plastic waste accumulates in the environment, including landfills, oceans, and other natural areas, where it can take hundreds or thousands of years to decompose.
Harmful to wildlife: Plastic waste can be harmful to wildlife that mistake it for food or become entangled in it. Animals can ingest small pieces of plastic, which can cause serious health problems, including digestive issues, suffocation, and even death.
Contamination of food and water sources: As plastic waste accumulates in the environment, it can contaminate food and water sources. Plastics can leach harmful chemicals into the environment, which can enter the food chain and potentially harm human health.
Greenhouse gas emissions: The production, transportation, and disposal of plastic products contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.
Unsustainable: The use of plastic is often unsustainable, as it is made from non-renewable fossil fuels and is often used for single-use items that are quickly discarded. This leads to the depletion of natural resources and the creation of more waste.
While recycling plastic can help reduce waste and conserve resources, relying solely on recycled plastic is not a sustainable solution to the plastic waste problem for several reasons:
Limited supply: The availability of recycled plastic is limited. Only a small portion of the plastic waste generated is currently being recycled, and there are limits to how much plastic can be recycled and how many times it can be recycled before it loses its quality.
Energy-intensive: Recycling plastic requires significant amounts of energy, particularly when compared to the production of virgin plastic. The process of recycling plastic involves melting, reforming, and processing the material, which requires energy and resources.
Quality issues: Recycled plastic may have lower quality and durability than virgin plastic, making it less suitable for certain applications.
Contamination: Recycling plastic can be complicated by the fact that different types of plastic cannot be mixed, and the presence of contaminants can reduce the quality of the recycled material.
Limited impact: While recycling plastic can help reduce waste and conserve resources, it does not address the root causes of the plastic waste problem, which include overproduction and overconsumption of single-use plastic products.
Therefore, relying solely on recycled plastic as a solution to the plastic waste problem is not a sustainable solution. Rather, reducing the use of plastic, promoting reuse, and encouraging the use of sustainable and biodegradable alternatives are more effective strategies for reducing plastic waste.
Let's Go Compost upcycles bulk ingredient buckets to create free worm compost bins without the need to recycle plastic or utilize new plastic. Click here to learn more about our community-led effort.