According to Greenpeace, an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans each year but if we act now, we can help protect the world’s most beautiful creations
Changing our lifestyles to help save our planet shouldn’t take a back seat and should, in fact, be a number one priority. Plastic is causing huge environmental problems, especially in marine life, which includes turning our oceans into a plastic infested soup. Plastic waste is travelling on ocean currents and appearing on some of the UK’s most wonderful beaches, remote Pacific islands and has even been found trapped in Arctic ice.
It’s not just big corporations that can make a difference though; each and every one of us, as individuals, can help reduce our own personal plastic footprint, especially in the home, in order to make a change.
Use washing powder from a box
Washing powder is one of those things we all hate buying anyway as it can be so expensive. But every single household in the UK is roughly using a bottle a month; that sure does add up! Switch to washing powder in a cardboard box as these can easily be recycled afterwards and will save on plastic waste.
The supermarket shop
Supermarkets are full of plastic and sometimes it’s hard to avoid. Where possible try and choose loose fruit and vegetables. These are often cheaper too – an added bonus! Prime Minster, Theresa May, has pledged to ban all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042 and the majority of supermarkets are setting themselves targets to reduce their plastic intake. The UK government has also announced a plan to ban microbeads which comes into force this year. However, these products will still be available to buy until then, so avoid using products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon. Last month a store in Amsterdam opened its doors to shoppers who are able to pick from more than 700 plastic-free products, all which will be available down a plastic free aisle. This is a great turning point for the bid to rid plastic and campaigners have been celebrating; it just goes to show that it can actually be done!
Do you really need a straw?
You may beat home, in a pub or tucking into a tasty meal at your favourite restaurant, but think twice about whether or not you actually need that single use-plastic straw. It takes up to 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose, and they can’t be recycled in most places. So the next time you are slurping away at your gin and tonic think about whether or not you really need a straw, and if you have sensitive teeth then look at investing in a reusable stainless steel or glass one.
Invest in a reusable coffee cup
Did you know that only 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled and in the UK alone we throw away a shameful 2.5 billion? We can all make a change to that by simply carrying around a reusable cup. Starbucks now even offer a 25p discount for anyone who uses a reusable cup and they have introduced a ‘latte levy’ which charges customers 5p for using a takeaway cup from their store. Currently this trial scheme is taking place across 35 stores in London and the generated funds are going to the environmental charity Hubbub.
Top tips to reduce your plastic footprint
1. Swap bottled hand soaps with a good old-fashioned soap bar.
2. Carry a reusable shopping bag.
3. Give up bottled water! Keep a reusable bottle and fill with tap water.
4. Avoid using disposable cutlery.
5. The milk man is still around! Have him deliver your milk in glass bottles, which are collected and then reused.
6. Buy loose tea instead of using tea bags; even they contain small amounts of plastic.
7. Buy tasty fresh bread which is either loose or in a paper bag rather than those covered inplastic.
8. Say no to chewing gum! Even that is made from plastic.
9. Compost food waste instead of throwing it into a plastic bin bag.
10. Make your own condiments instead of buying those in plastic bottles.
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