Plastic pollution is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Each year, 1.1 million tonnes of plastic packaging is bought and 55% of it isn’t even recycled. Where the media has portrayed the damage plastic has done to the environment, it’s hardly surprising that 8 out of 10 of us are concerned about our plastic waste ending up in landfill and entering our oceans. Schemes like the recent plastic straw ban have seen attempts being made by large corporations such as Starbucks and Bacardi cutting down on plastic consumption, but why stop there when you can do even more to reduce your plastic?
The Plastic Free July Foundation
The Plastic Free July Foundation is a global movement that aims to dramatically reduce plastic use and improve attitudes towards recycling, with the goal being a world without plastic waste. Since 2011, over 2 million people from 159 countries have chosen to be a part of the annual Plastic Free July challenge, reducing their consumption of disposable plastics in July and beyond. Not only does the Plastic Free July campaign raise awareness of a growing plastic waste problem, but it supports the behaviour change by helping people to avoid single-use plastics by advising them on what to use instead. Recently, they have partnered with KeepCup - a reusable cup company, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) - an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organisation, to create the KeepCup X Sea Shepherd Reusable Cup. For every one of these cups sold, 100% of profits are donated to Sea Shepherd during Plastic Free July. Although July may be coming to an end, it's too late to do your bit, and you can still get your KeepCup X Sea Shepherd cup here.
Reducing Plastic in the House:
Throughout our daily routine, we use and dispose of plastic without even realising the damage that it causes. Some of the key contributors to plastic waste are facial wipes and cotton buds. Although there are other brands that sell plastic free wipes, a face cloth is reusable and therefore more environmentally friendly - and your skin will prefer water over the harsh chemicals. For brands that sell non-plastic cotton buds, check out www.cottonbudproject.org.uk for ocean friendly cotton buds that you won't have to feel guilty about.
Another key contributor to plastic waste is cling film. Not only has cling film been given a bad name due to plastic leaching into food and drinks, but it will stay in the environment for years and not degrade - putting risk towards wildlife on land and at sea. Instead of using cling film for storage, try using a bowl and and a plate for a lid. Not only will you feel better for reducing your waste, you won’t need to worry about plastic interfering with your food.
Reducing Plastic when you’re out and about
One of the key issues when shopping is the sheer amount of plastic packaging, as well as plastic bags. Scientists have seen the deaths of sea turtles increase dramatically due to turtles mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish, and trying to eat them. In order to combat this, it is recommended that you bring your own bags (preferably paper) to the supermarket, so you don't pick up anymore at the checkout. As well as this, try and buy as much loose produce as you can, the majority of fruit and vegetables have their own biodegradable packaging, - so you don't need to buy bananas that are wrapped in plastic. Another tip is to buy in bulk. Rice, cereals and other grains can be weighed and purchased in some supermarkets or health food shops in order to reduce the amount of packaging being purchased. If you’re heading to work, try not to buy a plastic water bottle everyday. Instead, purchase a reusable one and refill it using your closest location via the Reefill app. Finally, one of the easiest things you can do to help reduce your packaging waste is refuse straws when ordering drinks. It may seem obvious, but it really will make the difference.
It's time to take action on plastic, and it starts with you.