Plastic has long been a cheap alternative to other materials and due to its durability it has become a staple feature in our modern lives. However, recent studies have shown how plastic is damaging our oceans, which isn’t surprising when we are dumping more than 8 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans every year.1
While this is certainly a world-wide issue we can all make a difference without making drastic changes! It has been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Some may ask why plastic in our oceans has become such a big issue, well, it has been estimated that;
“71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs. When they ingest plastic, marine life has a 50% mortality rate. […] What’s equally as bad, perhaps even worse is that when plastic does make it into the ocean it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as “microplastics” rather than biodegrading or dissolving, which poses great threats to marine life including fish”
- Plastic Straws
Over 500-million plastic straws are used daily in America alone, and these are often only used once and then discarded.
Many companies, including Starbucks, are pledging to eliminate plastic straw usage globally.There are some people who rely on using straws, such as people who have suffered a stroke or are physically disabled. There are options out there if you do need to use plastic straws, such as compostable plastic straws which can be found online.However, for those of us who do not require straws we can either opt to use no straw at all, or you can now purchase re-usable stainless steel straws which can be washed and re-used.
While plastic straws only make up 4% of the plastic waste we dump into ocean, it is still a good place to start! See the #stopsucking to be part of the social media challenge!
The video below shows a Marine Biologist removing a plastic straw from a sea turtles nose, while this video is distressing to watch it reveals the real damage and affects our actions are having on our planet. For such a small change it can make a huge difference!
Sea Turtle with Straw up its Nostril – “NO” TO PLASTIC STRAWS (This is the original video! Filmed by Christine Figgener, marine biologist at Texas A&M University. ***WARNING: Graphic Content & Inappropiate/ Strong Language!***
- Plastic Bags
A recent study (Below the surface: Twenty-five years of seafloor litter monitoring in coastal seas of North West Europe (1992-2017) observed sharp declines in the amount of plastic bags captured by fishing nets trawling the seafloor around the UK compared to seven year prior.This demonstrates that recent changes in attitude towards plastic use, and government policies are working and making a difference. It shows how we can reverse the damage if we continue to reduce plastic pollution.
Plastic bags are used around the world, but shown to have a “working life” of 15 minutes. There are many other alternatives which not only last longer, but don’t harm our oceans.
For food items you can use re-usable Silicone food bags, for shopping trips you can get a “bag for life” from your local supermarket, or purchase a cotton option!
My personal favourite, the Bee’s Wrap, which is made from organic cotton, sustainably harvested bees wax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. It can be used to keep food fresh, can be re-used and has natural antibacterial properties! When they are used several times a week they should last around one year! You can find them here.
- Re-useable bottles and cups
Another big culprit for plastic pollution are plastic bottles and cups. Annual consumption is set to top half a trillion by 2021, which will supersede any recycling efforts.
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number is only set to increase over the next few year. However, how are all these bottles ending up in the ocean?
“If you live in the UK, or any developed country, and you’re careful to make sure your single-use plastic bottles go in the recycling or even in the landfill bin, surely they won’t end up in the ocean? […]
Unfortunately, global recycling rates are disappointingly low. Only 9% of plastic of all plastic ever produced has been recycles. The rest has either gone to landfill, been incinerated or has escaped into the environment.”
There are many other options that using plastic bottles, such as re-useable plastic bottles, or even glass water bottles. For hot drinks there are many re-usable cups which prevent single-use cup waste. My favourite re-usable cup is the ecoffee cup which comes in loads of different designs and is made with natural, sustainable bamboo fibre!