Marine ecosystems face irreparable damage from the millions of tonnes of plastic that wind up in our oceans every year.
From bottles and food packaging, to fishing line and bags, it is estimated that up to 12 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year. That’s equivalent to one rubbish truck of plastic being dumped into the sea every minute. If this trend continues into the future, it’s predicted that there could be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.
So how can you do your bit to reduce the amount of plastic that’s ending up in our oceans? Here are our top tips on how you can cut back on the amount of plastic you use…
1. Buy reusable bottles and cups. It’s tempting to want to sip refreshing spring water day in day out but if you realised that a million plastic bottles are bought every minute, you might think differently. Reusable BPA-free bottles with built-in water filters are not only affordable but will save you lots of cash, and the environment, over time.
2. Avoid plastic cutlery, especially if you’re on your lunch break. We’re all guilty of it: nipping to Pret on our lunch break and picking up some cutlery to help us chow down our tuna salad (it’s free, after all). But do you really need it? Most of us work in businesses where knives, forks and spoons are provided – so spare yourself the lunchtime cutlery counter kerfuffle and save some precious seconds (and our precious planet).
3. Buy fresh groceries individually rather than bagged or plastic packaged. That large bag of carrots… those freshly chopped stir fry ingredients… are they really necessary? If you don’t think you’re going to use something up, or you just want to save some prep time, think about the bigger picture: a plastic bag or packet might not seem a lot but if everyone follows your habits, we’ll continue to pollute our beaches, kill our wildlife, and eventually kill ourselves.
4. Remember your reusable carrier! Is your bag for life’s lifetime short lived? Start making a conscious effort to carry around a carrier wherever you go. The number of bags used went down by more than 80% in England between 2016 and 2017, so begin doing your bit and let’s see that percentage rise for good.
5. Swap plastic straws for paper straws. You wouldn’t have thought it, but plastic straws are one of the top 10 items found washed up on beaches around the world. So when ordering a gin and tonic from the bar on a Friday night, ask for an eco-friendly biodegradable paper straw instead (or just ditch using a pesky straw altogether)!
6. Clean with plastic-free products. For some reason we think that we need about a hundred different cleaning products to do the same job. But did you know that the majority of these products contain nasty plastics? From wet wipes to synthetic sponges and bleach bottles, try using natural products instead that do just as good a job. For example, mixing white vinegar with water and applying with a cotton cloth is a surprisingly effective surface cleaner.
7. Recycle your plastic waste. Nearly all plastic is recyclable, but less than 50% of the plastic waste produced in the UK actually ends up being recycled. Make more of a conscious effort to put your leftover plastic into a designated recycling bin at home or work, and encourage others to do the same.
8. Cut back on takeaways and dine in. Brits chomp their way through a massive 22 million takeaways every week. We get that ordering a lamb biryani from your local curry house is a hassle-free option for a delicious meal after a long day at work, but be mindful of how many unnecessary plastic containers your takeaway is delivered in. So take the time to dine in and make your own food instead in order to avoid lots of plastic packaging.
We wanted to find out what the next generation thought about the plastic in our oceans – after all, we’re leaving this planet to them – so we captured their reactions and thoughts on plastic pollution in this cute video.
Join the movement. Share this video using the hashtag #stopplasticpollution