From the container, the soy sauce, wasabi and ginger packets, chopsticks and other bits and pieces, a quick bite of sushi could end up with a pile of trash that’s headed for the ocean. We’ve put together a list of things you can do to avoid single-use when eating sushi.
- Bring a container from home.
- Bring your own chopsticks.
- Keep a soy sauce bottle at home and the office, and use a small side dish.
- Shops can use sauce dispensers and pour into small reusable tubs.
- Shops can join a container re-use scheme where customers can swap their used containers for clean ones. There are sharing schemes starting up all around the world.
If you can’t avoid single-use altogether, look for items that are biodegradable or easily recyclable, and made from renewable resources,
Paper or natural fibre-based containers are a good option. When we were looking for a sustainable alternative to polystyrene for Light Soy’s packaging, we used pressed sugarcane pulp. It’s upcycled from sugarcane left over from making sugar, and completely biodegradable.
Note that some ‘biodegradable’ or ‘plant-based’ plastics aren’t that different from normal plastic. These need to be collected separately and processed under the right conditions to compost completely – otherwise they’re just as bad as regular plastic.
New plastic alternatives made from seaweed and other algae, like those made by Notpla, are an excellent alternative.
If you have to use a single-use plastic item, take the time to recycle it the right way. This means removing contamination and collecting similar plastics together.
Check with your local government for what they can and can’t recycle and the correct way to sort your waste.
The fish packets may be too small to be recycled on their own, so some local governments recommend sealing them inside a larger container made of the same material. Check the recycling symbol stamped onto the plastic and pack it in a larger item of the same type.
The caps are made of a different plastic called polypropylene (PP) and although PP can be recycled, it might not be accepted by your local recycler. Check with local authorities before putting them in the recycling.
Ultimately, recycling is not a great solution to plastic waste as it is an imperfect process that is very energy intensive – it should be used as the a last resort.
There’s lots more individuals, businesses and governments can be doing to prevent waste. By working together we can create a more sustainable economy and design waste out of the system.
We believe that better design – of individual products and entire product life-cycles – will have the biggest impact on plastic pollution. If we’re going to make a change we need to reject single-use items and move toward a circular economy.
We created Light Soy to highlight the problem with single-use plastic, the impact design can have on people and the planet, and to inspire and support solutions to our global plastic problem. As members of 1% for the Planet, one percent of our revenue goes to nonprofit organisations protecting the oceans and preventing plastic pollution.