Why Should We Try And Reduce The Plastic waste?
There has been a growing awareness of the need to reduce plastic waste over the last few years, especially those that are deemed “single use” plastics. This was highlighted in the recent David Attenborough Blue Planet II series which highlighted the growing problem of plastic in our oceans.
“We’ve seen albatrosses come back with their belly full of food for their young and nothing in it. The albatross parent has been away for three weeks gathering stuff for her young and what comes out? What does she give her chick? You think it’s going to be squid, but it’s plastic. The chick is going to starve and die.
“There are more examples of that. But we could do things about plastic internationally tomorrow.”
During its recent Great British Beach Clean Up, the Marine Conservation Society found 718 pieces of litter for every 100 metre stretch of beach surveyed, and of this, rubbish from food and drink made up at least one fifth. In the UK the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.
Plastic will not biodegrade but it will break down into tiny particles after many years. In the process of breaking down, it releases toxic chemicals which make their way into our food and water supply.
It's a Huge Problem, What can I Do?
Eliminating single use plastics is a huge challenge and may seem too overwhelming; and you may think that there isn’t anything that you can do personally to help. You may think that it should be down to the Government and Businesses to solve.
However, if everyone just made one or two small changes to reduce their own plastic waste this could add up to a significant reduction, and every little helps.
I’m certainly no expert, and the ways to reduce plastic have been well documented but it never hurts to remind ourselves what we can do.
10 Things I'm Trying to Reduce our Plastic Waste
Here are my top 10 ways that we’re trying to reduce plastic.
1. Plastic Straws
1. Plastic Straws – these make a huge contribution to the amount of plastic waste, we’ve switched to paper straws, and I love them. There are also other alternatives such as stainless steel or bamboo that you could try, or better still don’t use a straw.
2. Liquid Soap / Shower Gel
2. Liquid soap / shower gel – we’ve recently switched back to using a bar of soap in the bathroom / cloakroom for hand washing. If you don’t want to switch to a bar of soap think about buying a larger size shower gel and use a refillable non plastic soap dispenser.
3. Re-usable Coffee cup
Less than 0.5% of disposable cups are recycled properly so If you buy coffee from a coffee shop why not invest in a re-usable coffee cup. You can even buy collapsible cups now that take up less space.
Pret A Manger recently announced it will reduce 50p from the price of a hot drink when the customer buying it is using their own reusable coffee cup and Starbucks is rolling out a three-month trial of a 5p charge on disposable cups in up to 35 London stores.
5. Refillable detergents
We use a Bona mop that you fit a detergent bottle to for cleaning our wood and tile floors. However, rather than just replacing the bottle when it’s empty we now have a refillable one that we can just top up. You can buy the liquid in bulk containers which reduces the amount of single use plastic bottles that we buy.
If you wanted to be really good, you could try going totally plastic free and use natural cleaning products such as white vinegar and water.
6. Coffee Pods
This is a tricky one for me as I love my coffee machine it’s just so handy but trying to recycle used capsules isn’t always easy. The two materials that most of coffee capsules are made from, plastic and aluminium, must be separated, and this cannot be done in standard recycling plants. They say that aluminium coffee pods take between 150 to 500 years to decompose.
If you are a Nespresso member they have quite a few ways that you can recycle the pods, but they estimate only around 20% of their pods are recycled.
You can also buy biodegradable coffee pods such as the Dualit compostable capsules which are compatible with Nespresso machines.
I also have a monthly subscription to Pact coffee and I do try and use my cafetiere as much as possible.
7. Loose Vegetables
When you’re buying vegetable try to buy loose ones and not ones packaged in plastic. Also, when you weigh them out try not to put them in a plastic bag or keep and re-use your bags if you can or take a re-usable container. Or consider a vegetable box from your local farm shop if you have one.
8. Cotton Buds
Did you know that the Marine Conservation Society have described cotton buds as one of the most prevalent varieties of pollution on beaches in the UK. In response to this issue, Johnson & Johnson vowed to stop selling plastic cotton buds in favour of paper, which is far more biodegradable. Most of the large supermarkets have also stopped selling plastic stem ones so you just need to check that you’re buying the paper stem ones.
9. Re-use Glass Jars
This is another easy one, when you finished of a jar of jam just wash up the jar and you can use it to store other things rather than putting them in a plastic bag. Some of the jars are so pretty I use them as vases.
10. Tea Bags
I must admit I didn’t actually realise tea bags contained plastic! However, apparently most of them do, as much as 25% of the bags can be made up of polypropylene – a plastic – making them impossible to fully compost. It is a relatively small amount of plastic which is used to help seal the bag but, in the UK, an estimated 165 million cups of tea are drunk each day, that adds up to around 2,400 tonnes of plastic polluting the environment every year. So, if you can switch to loose tea and a teapot or even a tea globe infuser.
Make Small Changes - Every Little Helps
As I said I’m certainly no expert, but these are the things we’ll be trying to change; and do our bit. I’d love to hear your ideas for making small changes.