7 things you can do today to cut plastic waste in our seas
There's not a good way to sugar coat this fact: our plastic waste is causing havoc in the world's oceans. With around eight million tonnes of discarded plastic ending up in the sea each year, recent research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (yes, she of round-the-world sailing fame), has shown that by 2050 it's likely that they'll be more plastic in the world's oceans than fish.
This super-short video gives a useful overview:
The answer? Not to throw up our hands in the face of the doom and gloom! We have options:
>> Scientists and engineers around the world are working hard on ways to clean our oceans.
>> Each year, more companies are switching to biodegradable plastic substitutes for their packaging.
>> Consumers, like ourselves, are making the decision to cut down on their own disposable plastic habit! This needn't be complicated - in fact, you can start today...
1. "No plastic straw, please"
We've already seen a few eco-minded pubs and bars cutting out the single-use plastic straw in your soft drink or cocktail, but the general rule is that you'll have to ask the bar person to leave the straws out when you order.
Not sure why a grown-up would need one of these anyway, so hopefully in time we'll see them less as a standard drink accessory and more akin to stabilisers on a kid's bike!
2. Pick cardboard boxes over plastic bags and bottles
Where you have the choice, such as when buying laundry detergent, plump for easily recyclable cardboard packaging over plastic containers.
3. Buy in bulk and look for refillable options
Not simply a good financial decision, buying your groceries and other household items in bulk means that you cut down on the plastic waste from individually packaged items.
Scoop-and-weigh shops, where you take your own containers and buy exactly the amounts you need, are worth looking out for, along with refill stations for household cleaners (such as Ecover) and personal care products (for example, Faith In Nature).
4. Invest in reusable items, disposable is often a false economy
In a previous blog post, we showed how a family could save over £500 a year by switching to good quality, reusable products from cheap and nasty plastic disposables.
A common saying among frugal folk: "Buy once, buy well." By investing a little more in the first place, we can come out ahead financially in the long run.
5. Take reusable bags when you go shopping
Thin and easily ripped, disposable shopping bags aren't only likely to deposit heavy shopping on the pavement on the way home - they can also clog waterways and pose a serious threat to wildlife if they end up in the sea. Take a reusable carry bag or tote when you go shopping instead.
6. Avoid buying drinks packaged in plastic bottles
Glass is an amazing material, capable of being endlessly, infinitely recycled. If you get thirsty when out and about, try to pick a drink packaged in a glass bottle as opposed to plastic. On a budget? Take a refillable bottle with you and ask in restaurants and cafÃ©s for a tap water refill.
7. Go reusable at the coffee shop
Unfortunately, for hygiene's sake, standard disposable coffee cups are lined with polyethylene, a kind of plastic resin. These are technically recyclable, but unfortunately most places lack the facilities to do so. Dig out that old Thermos, or invest in a keep-warm travel mug; the environment will thank you and so will your pocket as many coffee shops offer a discount for reusable users!