By now, everyone knows that plastic is a global problem right? Just like we ought to know by now that our individual choices and purchases immensely contribute to it. However, when it comes to what we can do to rectify the situation as private or average individuals, the information thins out. Popular solutions such as going zero waste and plastic free is quite challenging for many people to embark on because they require in many ways, a total overhaul of their lifestyles.
So, when it comes to taking action, what can the average person do? Well in addition to such small but vital steps as bringing your own reusable bags to the supermarket or weaning yourself off disposable plastics by vetoing processed packaged food in favor of home cooking, you can also track and rebalance your plastic footprint. Carbon receives popular criticism because it is often misused by the big corporate polluters as a means of buying their way out of the environmental havoc their actions have caused, but going PlasticNeutral with rePurpose is one very easy way to take responsibility for and ultimately reduce your plastic footprint wherever you are.
Who and what is rePurpose?
Founded almost two years ago after an enlightening and eye-opening visit to Asia’s second largest landfill in Deonar East, a suburb of Mumbai, rePurpose is a social enterprise committed to “reinventing the wheel of the world’s resource economy– one where our duty to protect the planet is ethically shared among manufacturers, consumers and recyclers”.
Its web platform #PlasticNeutral allows users to measure their plastic footprint (regardless of your location) and goes on to afford you the opportunity to offset your plastic footprint at the click of a button.
Now I know what you must be thinking: ‘Offsetting my carbon footprint is one thing but how do I even go about measuring how much plastic I consume?’ So glad you asked. In a bid to help individuals like you and I understand our plastic consumption, rePurpose provides us all with an interactive calculator that computes just how much plastic we use in the span of three minutes. This innovative concept is commendable because the first step to managing and offsetting your plastic footprint is firmly measuring just how much plastic you use in your daily life.
It’s difficult to act on an issue if you don’t know your role in it and so with the aid of this three-minute questionnaire, the rePurpose platform very simply measures your use of plastic. For instance, using the calculator my personal plastic usage came to 43kg per year which is better than the 87 to 100kg that the average North American uses. With the results now in hand, I could move on to the exciting part; plastic offsetting.
At a price of $0.50 per kg, rePurpose works closely with credible vetted environmental organizations in India to ethically collect and recycle an amount of low-value plastic waste equivalent to your plastic footprint. So, for the amount you pay ($21.78 in my case), rePurpose pays that money to accredited waste management and recycling companies of my choice to recycle an equivalent amount of low-value plastic. The social enterprise also works with local partners, ensuring sustainability and long-term impact. For instance, India, like other developing nations, has a huge plastic problem with the River Ganges identified as one of the top 10 rivers contributing to ocean plastic pollution. Grassroots efforts and local partnerships are definitely a sustainable and more community-minded way to solve such problems.
It’s worth mentioning that rePurpose focuses on low value plastic. This is the kind of plastic mostly used in food and groceries packaging and generally ignored by recycling companies because it is difficult to recycle at scale and is low profitability. So the ‘offset payment’ goes to the local scavengers in India, who would have earned considerably less for scavenging through landfills to gather this kind of plastic (remember, in many developing countries there is an informal recycling sector and scavengers whose livelihoods are tied to salvaging valuable waste materials). With this payment, the recycling initiatives rePurpose works with intercept low level plastic (which they would have normally ignored) from normal collection points such as houses, offices and schools before it reaches the ocean. Incredible right?
rePurpose helps you take climate action every single day
While rePurposes enables you to offset your plastic footprint, the ultimate goal is to make you a more conscious consumer.
To help achieve this, rePurpose sends “reBalancer” members personalized conscious living tips and tricks every other week to ensure they stay on track to reduce plastic consumption, live sustainably and minimise environmental footprint. With your plastic profile built from calculating your footprint, these conscious living tips are tailored to be both practical and easily actionable.
For example, let’s say that in your original plastic usage calculation you learn that much of your plastic waste comes from take-away food packaging and containers and hair products such as shampoo and conditioner bottles. The rePurpose team will email you your personalized “Conscious Living tips of the week” featuring tips and tricks and information to consider that will help you make less wasteful choices, all of which is designed to help you reduce your eco footprint.
rePurpose increases your plastic awareness
How many of us are truly ‘plastic-aware’ and consider the true cost of our plastic usage? Ordinarily it’s much easier to calculate how much money was spent on necessities (you only need to check your receipt or bank account) than to measure plastic consumption. rePurpose brings the latter to your consciousness and simplifies the process of quantifying it. Since calculating my plastic footprint, I have become more conscious of my plastic consumption as I strive not to exceed my current plastic usage.
Now usually I am skeptical of solutions that basically enable people to pay money to ‘fix’ problems, but I find rePurpose’s mission exemplary and I admire the work they are doing since it takes exactly this out-of-the-box thinking to solve our gravest environmental problems. In a world of immense panic and many failed solutions in the fight against plastic, rePurpose offers actionable and expedient steps to each one of us at our fingertips. While this is not a permanent solution (they admit as much themselves), repurposing plastic footprint in this way offers the means for the average consumer to land a blow against ocean plastic with the click of a button.
The plastic problem we all face is real but we also know people have little time and want convenient solutions. So although there is no universally accepted solution to end the plastic crisis at once, I greatly admire that rePurpose nudges us all to be more aware of our plastic consumption while simultaneously providing us with the easy means of offsetting it. By applying this solution alongside others we choose (such as carrying reusable bags and coffee cups and saying no to plastic straws), we can steadily manage our current plastic situation and gradually cleanse our oceans. This is exactly why rePurpose is an organization I intend to stick to.
And frankly, I cannot wait for the day they extend their partner program in my neck of the woods, Nigeria.
To learn more about rePurpose or to offset your plastic footprint, visit their website here.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by rePurpose and images were supplied. Any opinions expressed are held by that of the author. Facts and other specific product information is checked with the company. For more information about our policies, click here.
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