After reading about a marine biologist giving up single use plastic for lent I thought what a great idea and decided to give it a bash too. I’m generally pretty conscious of over packaging etc but it wasn’t until I began the challenge that I realised how difficult it is to avoid plastic.
Unfortunately that goes for the sea too and it’s estimated that plastic makes up 90% of rubbish in the ocean. Every square mile is thought to contain 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. The effects on wildlife include entanglement in, and ingestion of, plastic.
A dead sperm whale was washed up in Spain with 17kg of plastic waste in its stomach.
Midway is a powerful film documenting baby albatrosses dead on one of the remotest islands on the planet; their bodies full of plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch.
Some plastic facts:
- In the UK about 15 million plastic bottles are used in our homes every day
- On average, a plastic bag is used once, for 12 minutes but takes between 450 and 1000 years to degrade
- About 60% of litter found on UK beaches is plastic
- 45% of people have bought a bag for life; 12% use them
- An estimated 56% of all plastic waste is used packaging, 75% of which is collected from households
- An average household uses 500 plastic bottles/year, but only about 130 (26%) are recycled
So how have I got on?
Well I’ve had some strange looks from supermarket staff, gone without some of my favourite things (eg Soreen), accepted I’ll never be a baker, realised you need to plan ahead and be organised, and perhaps most importantly raised awareness of the issue with family, friends and colleagues.
- Why is it more expensive to buy loose fruit than 6 in a plastic film?
- Why do big multipacks of toilet roll have to be packaged in plastic?
- Why do the WRVS cafes at work refuse to fill up reusable coffee cups?
- Why do some supermarkets package fairtrade bananas in plastic when non-fairtrade are not?
- Why does the UK not ban plastic bags like they do in Rwanda (remember having my backpack searched at Border and plastic bages were removed)
Ideas for reducing plastic
- Get a couple of reusable coffee cups; leave one at work and take one out and about
- Shop local
- Always keep a lightweight shopping bag with you
- Use bars of soap rather than liquid
- Washing powder in cardboard box rather than liquid
- Milk delivered in glass bottles (just like when you were a kid)
- Fill up tupperware with cereals and rice from bulk bins in wholefood shops