Controversially, I don't think there should, or can be, a complete ban on plastic, and here's why:
As the daughter of a nurse, friend of many nurses and wife of someone who has spent a lot of time in hospital over the last 6 years, it is clear that there is a strong need for plastic in the medical world. Seeing my husband dispose of his anti-coagulating injection this morning, triggered this thought in me and made me more aware of the millions of people who rely on plastic for medical reasons every day.
I am usually the first to defend disabled people in the current anti-plastic-straw movement. And I also read an interesting article lately on exactly that issue. When hubby was recovering in intensive care, he could only sip water through a straw, and it didn't even occur to me (not back then in any case) to opt for something more sustainable, as it wouldn't for most people in that situation.
However, I do see a need for a real change in how these things are disposed of. It would be useful for manufacturers to a) make medical items from recycled plastic where possible, b) tell us what materials can and can't be recycled in the relevant bins/boxes and c) provide more information on the best way to dispose of plastic medical items with the least impact possible to the environment. I am referring more to home-use than in hospitals but there could also be improvements made in smaller doctor's surgeries for example where more recycling (of all types) could be implemented. (Did you see the nurse who made a beautiful mosaic of plastic lids used over her years of nursing?)
There are of course other industries which heavily rely on plastic and would potentially take longer to move into better alternatives. Automotive, aviation, electronics to name a few. But there are plenty of things we can do as an end user to put our purchasing power into action. Need a new toaster? - opt for stainless steel rather than a plastic outer. Want a new case for your mobile phone? There are environmentally friendly options out there that are still strong but so much better for the environment (such as pelacase) and so the examples could go on.
The main issue for me, however, is waste and how things are disposed of. Whether this is waste of plastic or waste in general, it's the way we have become such a 'throw away' culture that is the problem. As you may have seen in many memes or posts online - There is no "away", everything has to go somewhere.
We have a responsibility to dispose of our waste correctly and to educate others on how to do it right as well. If recycling facilities in your area are limited or restrictive, write to your local council and ask them what the plans are for improvement. If enough people speak up, then change will come. You could also arrange to visit your local recycling plant and find out exactly what happens there first hand so you can share with others the importance of recycling.
In our local recycling plant, 76% of all household waste that arrives is recycled. That is a huge amount that is diverted from landfill and given the opportunity to go on to make other things. It really is worth separating out your rubbish into the correct bins. If more recycleable materials are on the market, there is more chance for products to be made using these materials and thus less need for raw materials to be made.
Or if you find that littering in your community or local area is a problem, start a campaign to educate people as to the dangers and impact that littering can have. You will probably find that if you approach the environment department at your local council, they are likely to back any solid plans you have to help increase awareness of environmental issues, and would welcome the help.
Educate yourself and find out what you can do in your local community to contribute to recycling efforts, beach cleans, countryside cleans, volunteering opportunities on environmental or conservation schemes, fundraising for environmental charities etc. etc. If we all take steps toward creating less waste and educating others, then our children's children might have a chance at living on a cleaner, greener planet.