A valid alternative in our battle to fight and limit the use of plastic in our daily lives, is switching to objects made using more sustainable materials and which have more eco-friendly credentials from start to finish, meaning that they respect the planet from the production line, all the way down to the moment they are disposed of. Steel is undoubtedly a one of a kind material that respects this criteria fully.
According to the Colling Dictionary the definition that can be given of ‘Sustainability’ when talking about ecology is “The ability to be maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage”. In 1987 the Brundtland Commission, formerly known as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), whose objective it was to unite countries in the pursuit of sustainable development, described sustainability as “Meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The three main components of sustainability are: environmental conservation, social responsibility, and economic development.
It is often said that steel is used, not consumed, this is because steel is such a unique material that it can be used over and over again without it being down-graded. It’s the only material that has a closed recyclable loop, meaning that it never looses its properties and can be transformed into steel infinitely.
This quality makes items made of stainless steel the most sustainable choice when purchasing household objects, as you can rest assured that the non-renewable resources used to produce it, such as for example minerals and fossil fuels, have not been wasted on something that will easily lose its worth.
This is not only great for the planet and for those resources that have been used, but is also extremely valuable from a financial stance ,as steel is a steady long term investment that can be capitalized on by future generations to come.
The validation that steel is the best possible alternative to certain plastic products is that 80% of stainless steels items are recycled, making the impact of this material on the environment the lowest possible.
Steel vs. Plastic
Various differences can be found between steel and plastic, and not to anyone’s surprise, between the two, steel always comes out looking like the better option! For a start, the first one can resist temperatures that most commercial plastics can’t withstand (150 F to +1600 F compared to -60 F to 250 F of plastic). Steel is therefore overall stronger than plastic, it offers greater resistance to corrosion and fire and is also more versatile and has no water absorption. Last, but definitely not least, is the fact that while not all plastic can be recycled, creating an enormous amount of pollution and of consequences for the environment, steel can be recycled over and over without any problem.
Stainless Steel products
The first everyday plastic objects that can be forever replaced using stainless steel products when embarking on a plastic free life are water bottles, cutlery to be used when dining out and to carry with you at all times, and straws.
These products may seem to be more expensive at first but in fact they are more value for money than their plastic counterpart. Yes, their production has a higher energy consumption which makes their price tag a little higher, however this initial cost makes up for it in the long run. As a material in fact stainless steel is corrosion resistant, easier to keep clean, does absorb stains and requires very little maintenance. Think about it, it’s the safest material that can be used to handle food and drinks. Exactly why it is also the most used and trusted material in the medical field when dealing with sterile environments.