As consumers, we all know plastics are everywhere. We’ve produced more plastic in the last 10 years than in the whole of the 20th century and 50% of the plastics we use, we use only just once. From the Arctic where the majority of UK plastics end up to the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s everywhere. In fact1Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution , it circles the earth in ways you wouldn’t expect due to ocean currents and seasonal changes.
“At least 8 millions tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year… Without action, the ocean is expected to contain more plastics than fish by 2050.”- Ellen Macarthur Foundation
Here are 5 things you can do today to help tackle ocean plastics
1) Be a fashion warrior! Use a Guppy Friend bag in your washing machine. It’s a mesh laundry bag that captures microfibres as clothes are washed. Microfibres are a massive issue prompting the UK government to ban microbeads.
2) Say no! It’s the final straw! Recycle plastic bottles, plastic straws and cutlery and choose reusable cups, not disposables. There are tonnes of reusable cups on the market such as Enviro-Cup for events. Check out the Guardian’s guide to the best ones there. As consumers, we can make a difference every time we time we shop!
3) Get active! Collect rubbish in your local area. It could help prevent the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. If you live near a beach, join Surfers Against Plastics for clean-ups for a great and purpose-filled day out. Inspirational Lizzie Carr paddle boarded 400 miles around England’s waterways and became the first female to paddle board solo across the English channel! Go Lizzie!
4) Have a beer and support sustainable businesses! Support businesses that use recyclable products. You can even get the Edible Six Pack Ring from Saltwater Brewery which is 100% biodegradable within 2-3 months of being in the ocean! Even brands like Adidas are changing their habits with the UltraBOOST Uncaged Adidas x Parley shoes so you don’t have to sacrifice style to look after the planet. H&M’s new Conscious Exclusive collection features BIONIC – a brand new material created from recycled polyester from plastic collected on beaches and shorelines. There are so many more alternative brands out there too for every need. For example, Claire Rendell’s beautiful furniture proves you can combine stunning design with a sustainability conscience. By supporting brands that are making huge changes in their production methods, we can build momentum and a demand for a more sustainable, more environmentally friendly future.
5) Make some noise! We’re in this together and we can all make a difference. Share Ocean Generation’s #MyOceans especially with young people and teenagers. To make a really big difference, there are lots of travel opportunities to see first-hand the impact of plastics. For example, Flooglebinders run educational trips for schools. Alternatively, supporting trips for young people can help encourage the next generation of change makers. Charities like One More Generation rely on your donations to keep making a difference.
Want to become a Plastic Ocean warrior? Here are some big questions that could lead to surprising answers.
- Given that only 12% of UK waste is recycled, and current recycling practices only get 5% of the original energy back, are we chasing after the wrong goals?
- Why is there such a low demand for reusable cups but lots of attention around the #lattelevy? Are taxes the only way forward? Why don’t consumers sacrifice convenience for a small discount?
- Will giving consumers extra steps, like using a Guppy Friend, actually make a difference? Wouldn’t creating responsible supply chains and changing manufacturing processes be better?
|Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution|