Imagine, it’s 2050 and you’re knee deep in the ocean. The water is murky, the fish are gone, and there’s plastic—plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and plastic containers—bobbing in the water all around you. The ocean has become a storage place for plastic and you’re floating right in the middle of it.
The pain of plastic
It may sound far-fetched, but with 300 million tons of plastic produced each year, it’s not out of the question. At the rate we’re currently going, the ocean could contain more plastic than fish in 30 years. If that’s not enough to make you think twice about asking for a plastic straw, then consider the fact that plastic remains in the environment for centuries. Yes, that plastic bag you got from the supermarket last week could outlive generations of your family.
A plastic planet
What makes plastic so bad for the planet? There are quite a few reasons why this material is particularly problematic:
- Animals consume it: The animals can’t tell the difference between a plastic pen cap and a fish, and it’s literally killing them. More than 180 different kinds of animals have been known to consume plastic, including these birds (warning, may need tissues).
- It leeches into the soil: When plastic finally starts to decompose, chemicals can leech into the soil. Chemicals in the soil mess with the delicate pH balance of the earth and throw off the entire ecosystem. Unhealthy soil leads to unhealthy crops which ultimately lead to unhealthy humans.
- Production uses a lot of oil: 8% of the world’s total oil production to be exact. This makes plastic production a significant consumer of fossil fuels, and a significant contributor to climate change.
- It’s not always managed properly: Some of the countries that consume the highest amount of plastic aren’t able to dispose of it the right way. Unfortunately, mismanaged plastic has a much higher chance of entering the ocean and ending up in a turtle’s belly.
The perils of plastic are impossible to ignore.Maybe you’ve already stopped buying plastic water bottles, and that’s a fantastic start. There’s another sneaky source of plastic destroying the planet however that you’ve probably never even thought about. One that you use and dispose of hundreds of times throughout your life without even batting an eye.
We’re talking about gift cards.
The Environmental Effects of Gift Cards
Have you ever thought about what happens to your gift cards after you use them? Depending on the retailer, it most likely goes into the trash before ultimately ending up in a landfill. How many gift cards end up in the trash you may ask? Considering $25.9 billion dollars are spent on gift cards every year, probably far more than you can imagine.
Plastic cards and the planet
If you thought there was only one kind of plastic, think again. Turns out there’s a ton of different kinds of plastic out there, each with its own unique properties.
Take water bottles for example. Single use plastic water bottles are typically made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) because it’s a strong and lightweight material. Chip bags and microwave dishes on the other hand are made out of polypropylene (PP) because of its heat resistant property.
Most gift cards are made out of something called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a gnarly plastic which poses unique risks to us and the environment:
- PVC production comes with a cost: Every time a colorful plastic gift card is made, toxic byproducts are produced. These byproducts are then released in to the atmosphere where they can harm us and everything around us.
- PVC sticks around…for a while: In fact, getting rid of PVC is near next to impossible The material persists in the environment and is inherently difficult to remove. That means it can wreak havoc on our ecosystems long after we’ve used our gift card.
- It accumulates in the body: PVC doesn’t just build up in the environment, it also builds up in your body. Using plastic cards encourages the production of PVC. The more cards that are produced, the more you encounter PVC, and the more that ends up in your body.
- Dioxins are created: Dioxins are one of the most toxic substances on the planet. They are created as a byproduct of PVC production and they pose as a major health risk to our population. Think problems with the reproductive, immune, and endocrine system.
PVC is a serious plastic that you don’t want to mess around with. Yet massive amounts of PVC are produced every year to fuel our gift card habit. Sounds like a lot of destruction for a shiny piece of plastic.
Do we need to reduce plastic if we can just recycle it?
Well, yes and no. You definitely can’t throw your old gift cards into your curb side recycling bucket. They’ll just be thrown into the garbage. A mail-in recycling program does exist in the US to help you dispose of your gift cards properly. Unfortunately, mailing in old gift cards is not the easiest thing for a lot of people to do.
Plus, like we already talked about, PVC lingers in the environment for an incredibly long time. Recycling your gift cards means they’ll just be made into more gift cards. It does notmean PVC magically disappears from the environment. The only way to do that is to buy less plastic gift cards in the first place.
Paper gift cards aren’t innocent either
What about biodegradable gift cards? It’s true gift, cards made from alternate materials are well intentioned. Paper is recyclable and paper production is significantly better for the environment compared to plastic.
Nothing is perfect however and paper gift cards are no exception. Using these biodegradable gift cards does come with a price:
- They’re not built to last: Paper is flimsy, and it breaks down easily. Paper gift cards can only be used a handful of times before they start to disintegrate and need to be thrown away. This translates to even more waste ending up in the environment.
- They may not be recyclable: If a biodegradable gift card has a magnetic strip, then it can’t be recycled, period. Seems like a major design flaw, I know.
Plastic cards linger in the environment forever. Paper gift cards generate more waste. It seems like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place with these gift cards options. If only there were a low waste way to reduce plastic and shop at the stores you love.
Well…there is now.
A solution we can all get behind
Introducing Moola, the eco-friendly way to buy gift cards and reduce plastic. Moola eliminates the need for plastic gift cards altogether, a truly remarkable feat for the planet. With Moola, gift cards are bought electronically directly through the Moola app. It’s the easiest zero-waste way to buy gift cards in Canada and will get you one step closer towards your goal to reduce plastic.
Using Moola is better for the environment. In fact, we think that Moola is helping to save the planet in a big way:
- No need to buy plastic gift cards: Gift cards are a great way to show yourself some love. Digital gift cards are a great way to show your planet some love. Buying gift cards digitally means no PVC is produced, no dioxins are released, and no plastic accumulates in the environment.
- No need to go to the store: Let’s not forget the other major contributor to climate change, transportation. Chances are that if you’re buying a gift card, you’re driving to the store to get it and releasing carbon emissions along the way. Moola eliminates this entirely from your life.
If all the gift cards that were purchased last year were purchased electronically, then we would cut back on billions of unnecessary PVC production. This translates to a far cleaner planet and I think that’s something we can all get behind. Are you ready to reduce plastic in your life?
I need Moola now
The best thing about Moola is that it’s totally free and easy to use. Don’t worry though, we’ll walk you through how to do it:
- Download the app: Go in to the app store on your iPhone or Android device and look for the Moola app. If you see a pretty purple logo, then you’re in the right place.
- Create an account: Creating an account will save you time and energy in the future in case your phone ever goes missing. You don’t have to create an account, but we recommend that you do.
- Start buying gift cards: Find gift cards to the places you love and buy them directly on the app. No plastic necessary.
It really is as easy as one, two, three. Plus you can get a pretty sweet deal on cards to places you already like to go to. We think it’s a win-win for everyone.
I want to do more!
If you’re feeling super pumped about environmental activism, that’s great! There are other things you can do to prevent a plastic ocean from occurring. Namely, by using less plastic in your everyday life. You can do so by making a few simple changes:
- Use reusable glass containers for your lunch
- Bring your own containers and cutlery when you eat out
- Opt for products free of microplastic beads
- Buy your dry goods in bulk using reusable bags
- Choose electronic over plastic gift cards
Small lifestyle changes like these can help reduce the amount of plastic in your life in a big way. You don’t have to be perfect either. Any and all earth friendly efforts are welcome.
Breaking up with plastic
Congratulations, you are officially ready to say goodbye to plastic gift cards once and for all. All you need to do now is download the Moola app to start making some massive environmental waves in your life. That’s it. Easier than drinking your smoothie out of a compostable paper straw.