How Bad Are Disposable Vapes for Your Health and the Planet?
How bad are disposable vapes for your health and the planet? The short answer is - very. For the long answer… Stay tuned!
Around 1.3m single-use vapes are now thrown away each week in the UK. Yes, each week. That’s 67.6 million per year from the UK alone!
It’s a growing problem that needs attention. The negative impacts of vaping on our planet are arguably as pressing as the health consequences from vaping.
So let’s delve into the various ways in which vaping contributes to plastic pollution and explore more sustainable alternatives.
Are Disposable Vapes Safe?
Vaping has gained significant popularity in recent years as an alternative to traditional smoking. E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are electronic devices that heat a liquid containing nicotine and other chemicals, producing an aerosol that users inhale.
But are disposable vapes safe? At least safer than cigarettes, right?
Well, vaping is often considered a less harmful option compared to smoking, and the NHS website states they pose a “fraction” of the risk of smoking cigarettes. So if it’s the choice between traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, vaping may be the lesser of two evils.
But there really isn’t enough long-term research yet to determine if it is considerably safer. So when it comes to your health, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
And, it is also crucial to understand the scale of the environmental consequences associated with this rapidly growing trend.
Are Disposable Vapes Bad for the Environment?
E-cigarettes may contain slightly fewer harmful substances than cigarettes, but they still release harmful chemicals into the air. Not to mention, the biggest environmental problem of all that’s associated with disposable vapes – plastic pollution.
Vape Devices and Cartridges
The primary contributors to plastic pollution in the vaping industry are the devices themselves and the disposable cartridges. Most vape devices are predominantly made of plastic, including the body, mouthpiece, and internal components. Cartridges, often referred to as pods, are usually made of plastic as well. With the rising demand for vapes, the production and subsequent disposal of these plastic items have a significant impact on the environment.
Many vapers opt for pre-filled, disposable cartridges, which are very convenient but come at a great cost to the environment. These single-use plastics add to the global plastic waste crisis, as they are discarded after just one use. The improper disposal of vape devices and cartridges leads to the accumulation of non-biodegradable plastic in landfills, oceans, and other natural habitats.
The Lifecycle of Vape Waste
To truly understand the scope of the plastic problem caused by vapes, let's examine the lifecycle of vape waste and its impact on our environment.
Production and Manufacturing: The manufacturing process of vape devices involves the extraction and refining of plastic materials, leading to the release of greenhouse gasses and harmful pollutants. Additionally, the production of disposable cartridges requires the use of valuable resources, such as petroleum-based plastics.
Usage and Disposal: Vape devices and cartridges are used for a relatively short period before being discarded. Due to their compact size, these items are often mistaken for regular plastic waste and end up in landfills or are improperly disposed of in natural ecosystems. This not only contributes to visual pollution but also poses risks to wildlife and marine life.
Decomposition and Microplastics: Unlike organic materials, plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose fully. During this process, plastics break down into smaller particles known as microplastics. These tiny particles can infiltrate soil, water bodies, and the food chain, posing severe threats to ecosystems and human health.
Sustainable Solutions: Reducing Vape-Related Plastic Waste
Now that we have a better understanding of the plastic problem caused by vapes, let's explore some practical and sustainable solutions to mitigate its impact.
Whilst the toxic substances and plastic waste that comes with vaping is against everything we stand for at Spruce, we understand that some people find it extremely hard to quit after being addicted to nicotine for some time.
So, whilst we recommend avoiding cigarettes and vapes altogether, we’d rather also provide some tips on how to minimise this negative impact too, rather than only offer the one solution of quitting.
1. Stop Altogether:
It has to be said - the best way to protect your own health and the planet is to quit vaping altogether. Whilst vapes often contain slightly less harmful substances than cigarettes, they still contain thousands of chemicals and the long-term health effects are still unknown. If you have been a vaper for a while and think you may struggle to quit, please consult your doctor for advice on the best way to quit safely.
2. Switch to Reusable Devices:
If you aren’t willing to quit but you want to at least minimize the damage to the environment, try investing in a long-lasting refillable vape device that is designed to be used long-term. By opting for a reusable device, you significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste generated from individual disposable vapes and pods. However, it’s important to note that there is still likely going to be plastic waste involved, such as the bottles that your e-liquid comes in
3. Refillable Cartridges and E-Liquids:
Instead of using disposable cartridges, choose refillable ones and opt for e-liquids that come in recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
4. Recycling Programs and Proper Disposal:
Several organizations and manufacturers are implementing recycling programs specifically for vape devices and cartridges. Research and find recycling centres or mail-back programs that accept these items, ensuring they are properly disposed of and recycled.
The Bottom Line...
The plastic problem caused by vapes is a growing issue that demands immediate attention.
Plastic pollution is a major problem facing our planet in general. But the rise in popularity of disposable vapes is particularly worrying as it’s a relatively new and very fast-growing problem that only exacerbates the existing waste problems our planet faces.
As an ethical brand, we want to provide you with all the facts so you can make an informed decision. By quitting vaping altogether, switching to reusable devices, opting for refillable cartridges and supporting recycling programs, we can help address the plastic pollution associated with vaping.
You can make an impact today by sharing this article with any friends or family who vape, and opening up a non-judgemental conversation.
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