Every year, humans produce 300 million tonnes of plastic, half of which is only used once. Some may believe that the use of plastic doesn’t affect you, but it does!
Over 5 trillion pieces of plastic have been dumped in the ocean, which in turn impacts more than 600 marine species. With the impact on sea life increasing, the risk to humans is rising (just like our sea levels) as the toxic pollutants from plastics are carried into the food chain and digested. Some species of marine animal have even become endangered due to our careless use of plastics. Sea Turtles often mistaken plastic for food, which can cause blockage in their digestive system. 50% of Sea Turtles are ingesting plastic pollution at an unpredictable rate. Seals and Sea Lions are liable to becoming entangled in plastic bags/plastic packaging which can lead to injury, severe infection and death. Whales also often mistake debris for food, but due to the size of their mouths, they unknowingly pick up plastic debris when skimming the surface of the water to catch fish. This can lead to puncturing/tearing of the stomach lining causing starvation and ultimately death.
Go Green Week 2019 is here and it is a perfect time to learn what you can do to reduce single-use plastic in your day-to-day life. These simple alternatives are small and simple changes you can make to help stop plastic pollution!
#1 - Buy a Reusable Water Bottle and Coffee Cup.
The UK alone is responsible for the use of over 35 million plastic bottles every day and the disposal of 2.5 billion coffee cups each year, with less than 1 in 400 being recycled. The use of reusable cups and bottles will help to reduce these figures significantly. You can even download an app ‘Refill’ which tells you locations where you can refill your water bottle for free! This helps to stop buying single-use water bottles each time you run out of water. If just one in ten Brits refilled once a week, we’d have 340 million less plastic bottles a year in circulation!
This Go Green Week, the College is offering a discount on ECoffee Cups and Water Bottles, which are on sale in East Café and the Corner Shop. Plus you can get a discount on hot drinks in the East Café when you use your own reusable cup!
#2 - Replace plastic cutlery with wooden alternatives.
Wooden cutlery sets are cheap and can be brought online or in some supermarkets. You could even try a reusable bamboo set, opting to carry this with you rather than using plastic cutlery in various fast food restaurants, available here. Many food places are replacing plastic cutlery with wooden ones, including Asda, M&S and our own East Café!
#3 - Use paper-stemmed cotton buds.
Although small, plastic stemmed cotton buds are an extreme problem in our oceans, with several sea creatures mistaking the buds for food, and ingesting them. This can cause physical damage or starvation. If you still opt to use plastic stemmed cotton buds, be sure to throw them away rather
than flushing down the toilet as this is a direct pathway to our marine environments; Plastic-stemmed cotton buds are light, allowing them to float near the surface of the water and pass through sewage plants and into the oceans. Other alternatives including bamboo stems, can be purchased online, in beauty shops as well as supermarkets.
#4 - Paper or Metal Straws.
More and more restaurants are reducing their reliance on plastic straws and/or replacing them with paper alternatives, including big brands such as McDonalds. You may find that paper straws make drinking difficult as they begin to wear away, if this is a problem for you, why not try a metal alternative. These can be brought online and it is possible to get collapsible ones to carry around in your pocket for use anywhere! Try this one out! To reduce use of plastic straws, simply as request “No straws please” when ordering a drink and then use your own! There also other alternatives including glass and bamboo, so the options are endless.
#5 - Beeswax Wraps.
Cling film may be handy, but extremely damaging to the environment. More than 1.2 billion metres, equating to 745,000 miles of cling film is used by households across the UK every year – enough to go around the circumference of the world 30 times over. There are simple alternatives that could replace its use in the kitchen. Beeswax wraps are a natural plastic free and fully compostable alternative which can be used to cover food and last a year. Some Beeswax alternatives even come in different designs, so not only are they better for the environment, they’re more appealing to look at too! Shop here. Other solutions include using sealable glass containers to store left over foods/liquids.
#6 - Always clean up after yourself.
As we live close to the coast it isn’t uncommon that many of us will spend several days out in the sun at the beach, but our beaches need cleaning up. Always put all rubbish in a bin and if there are none available, take it with you and throw it away at home!
These simple and cheap alternatives may seem small but if we all do our bit the impact on the environment can be immense! So what’s stopping you? Help save the environment today and be sure to spread the word to your friends/families and get as many people involved as possible. Interested in taking your plastic-free life that bit further? Give these steps a go.
Or if you want to know the impact your habits have, why not try this plastic consumption calculator and work out your annual consumption, as well as a plan to reduce that number.