As the society that we live in changes into a more ecofriendly society, we can see parts of our lives changing little by little.
Above all, we should check the things that we can easily use. If we think a little more deeply about disposable cups and straws provided when we order a drink, we can begin to change our thoughts. Straws are made of plastics, such as polypropylene and polystyrene, and disposable cups are made of paper. But, disposing of straws has become more problematic. If straws are not recycled, the straws will not decompose completely and will only completely be decomposed after 500 years. Even if plastics are recycled, though, there are many problems with time and cost. Thus, we should think seriously about things like straws, or more importantly, single use plastic bags. Instead of using single use plastic bags, which are not recyclable, we can – and should – bring our own recyclable bags with us. This will cut down on plastic waste significantly with little effort on our part. In fact, there are a lot of things we need to improve our awareness of a little more.
First, if we look at the cafes where we usually study or talk, we can see many changes. Cafes weren’t taking any kind of environmental measures at first. However, as environmental problems came to the forefront, a number of cafes began to offer discounts of about 300 won when customers bring their own tumbler. Although many people did not use this system at the beginning, the daily use of tumblers has increased, as more and more customers have started bringing their own tumblers in an effort to be more ecofriendly. On August 1, the Ministry of the Environment announced a law banning the use of disposable cups in stores according to the law on Recycling of Resources. The law requires that customers must use mugs provided by the cafe when consuming beverages in the store, and that if a customer is found using a disposable cup in the store, the cafe must pay a fine. In addition to abiding by the law, Starbucks – arguably the world’s most well known cafe – is also implementing additional changes. Starbucks said it will expand its use of paper straws to about 1,200 stores nationwide from 26 November 2018. Also, some cold drinks now come with a new straw-free lid, which gets rid of the need for straws altogether. The above mentioned prohibition law of the disposable products applies to fast food restaurants as well as cafes.
In 2010, a law was introduced to prohibit large marts, discount stores, and shopping malls from providing single use plastic bags. Stores began to substitute with ecofriendly bags or to provide boxes that can be recycled. As the law was announced, companies started looking for ways for consumers to bring their own shopping bags from home. For example, if you look at the disposable bags provided by Homeplus, you can see that plastic bags are made with starch ingredients, which decompose easily – thus making them ecofriendly, unlike ordinary plastic bags.
While the system itself and consumer attitudes haven’t changed much, they have begun to show gradual changes, as more ecofriendly practices are more common and familiar. Therefore, if we pay a little more attention to the problems, we can fix the problems and change the world little by little.