Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. Along our UK coastlines, around 5000 items of marine plastic have been found per mile of beach. Plastic waste is a global problem and it is the responsibility of all of us to make a change to reduce the amount of plastic we use.
The easiest way to start making a difference is to stop using single-use plastic. As a society we’ve got used to the ease and accessibility of grabbing anything we need on the go, but that plastic carrier bag that you use for 15 minutes will last in the ocean for 20 years and the plastic water bottle you buy will stay in the water for 450 years.
All it takes is a little pre-planning and you’ll soon be in the habit of not needing to use any of the following plastics, and it will feel really satisfying to refuse it.
1. Plastic carrier bags
I always try to carry a pack-a-sac everywhere I go, I just pop it in my work rucksack and then when buying groceries on the way home I can wip it out. Tote bags are also perfect for this as you can fold them down real small.
2. Disposal coffee cups
Although the main part of a take away coffee cup is cupboard, the inside is lined with plastic meaning they don’t get recycled, also the lid is obviously plastic so best just to avoid. There’s loads of bamboo or metal coffee cups on offer and some cafes will give you a discount for using your own cup. Win.
3. Throw away cutlery
Now the summer festivals and events are underway, always make sure you take some re-useable cutlery or a spork with you when eating out of food vans, and if you forget it, you can always use your hands!
4. Drinks bottles
Drinks bottles make up a huge percentage of plastic pollution that finds it’s way to the ocean. Take a reusable bottle out with you and ask in cafes or bars to fill it up with tap water. City to Sea are running a national campaign to get a refill points on every street in the UK and have an app to find participating cafes, bars, restaurants, banks, galleries and museums.
Surfers against sewage’s campaign Message in a bottle is calling for a Deposit Return System on plastic bottles and other single use drinks containers in the UK. In short, you pay about 10p more for a plastic bottle and get it back when you take the bottle back to the shop. This small incentive would mean more plastic being recycled rather than thrown ‘away’ (there is no away).
Just stop using them. If you do feel the need for a straw there are bamboo, paper or metal alternatives to plastic. The hardest bit with this one is to remember to tell the bartender to not put one in your mojito once you’ve had a few.
Save the oceans, save the turtles, just be better to the earth.