Of all of the things going on around us in our crazy world today, one of the most significant topics that drove us to set up an eco-conscious and ethical marketplace was our reliance on wasteful and unnecessary plastics, and what we can do to avoid single use plastic in our daily lives and go plastic free.
We have some avid scuba divers in our team at Friendly Turtle. They love to get out into the water and play in their new paradise world 20 meters below sea level. So when they began to notice more and more pollution in the waters and washed up on our coastlines, they started to see first-hand the damage the use of single-use plastics was doing to our oceans and the impacts it was having on the underwater ecosystems and marine life.
Depending on where you read, we, as humans, dump around 8 million metric tons of plastic into our oceans every year. Of that alarming figure, 236,000 tons are microplastics – tiny little pieces smaller than your fingernail. All this plastic is choking our oceans, lakes and rivers, harming all the sea life that can’t help but consume it. Just imagine, marine organisms unknowingly eat these plastics, then often starve because they can’t digest the plastic that has filled their stomachs which prevents them from eating their real food. Horrible picture, I’m sure you can agree…
So, as many people already are, we as humans have started turning our back on this unnecessary use of plastic. We are waking up and becoming increasingly aware of the dangers. No one wants to hear that a rubbish truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans every minute. We’re starting to become concerned, even scared when we read the amount of plastic in the ocean is set to increase tenfold by 2020.
Where does it all come from? Surfers Against Sewage sum it up with a little picture right here.
So what can we all do to avoid single use plastic and help in reducing this ecological disaster? Well, as communities rally together across the UK and the rest of the world, it’s great to see so many people already ditching ‘The Big Four’ worst polluters, and opting for a more sustainable alternative and going plastic free. Plastic carrier bags, bottles, cups and straws are some of the worst plastic polluters in our oceans. This can easily be remedied with a little forward thinking and consideration before you leave your home each day!
1. DITCH PLASTIC CARRIER BAGS
Since single-use plastic bags had their 5p charge introduced back in 2015, it is estimated to have removed 15 billion bags out of circulation. Yay! We write in more detail on the best reusable carrier bags in another blog post, but for now, as long as we can all remember to bring a reusable bag along with us to our trip to the supermarket, we are playing a massive role in eliminating the pesky plastic shopping bag from existence.
2. AVOID SINGLE USE PLASTIC AND CARRY A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Another one of the top 4 worst plastic polluters is the plastic drink bottle. And the easy solution to eliminate these is to carry a reusable water bottle around with you. In fact, we don’t even use glass tumblers around the home or office anymore. By making this simple switch, we could personally save hundreds of bottles finding their way into landfill, or worse, the ocean each year!
3. FORGET ABOUT SINGLE-USE COFFEE CUPS
Coffee cups are particularly difficult to recycle because of the plastic lining inside the cups to protect it from the liquid and the heat. There is only a handful of recycling facilities in the UK that can handle the job of recycling coffee cups. Consequently, 99.75% of coffee cups are NOT recycled and go straight to landfill. Just another prime example of excessive and unnecessary use of plastic. Pick up a reusable coffee cup like this glass one by JOCO Cup, or our Circular & Co coffee cups made from old recycled coffee cups, and we can all do our part to help minimise the use of single-use plastic.
4. SAY NO THANK YOU TO STRAWS AND GO PLASTIC FREE
A lot of people have heard of the straws suck campaign, where loads of celebrities had a big call out to stop the use of plastic straws. Although plastic straws do not make up a huge percentage of the billions of tons of plastic dumped in the sea every year, it’s their size that makes them one of the most insidious polluters. Marine life gets tangled in them, and the fish consume them. It’s their small and lightweight size which means they often don’t find their way into a recycling bin. We can eliminate all of this simple by ditching them altogether. When you’re at the beach, over the park, or at a bar sipping margaritas, avoid single use plastic straws. As an alternative, there are plenty of plastic free options such as stainless steel straws or biodegradable ones such as wheat or bamboo.
5. USE REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS
When you’re at the supermarket next fishing out the perfect jacket potatoes, or the best looking naval oranges, make a conscious effort to stop using the single-use produce bags they have dotting around the place. Instead, purchase some reusable cotton ones, and you can go about your daily or weekly shop picking all the loose fruit and veg you like to get in your diet, without the environmental impacts normally associated with it. Simple.
6. MAKE YOUR REUSABLE LUNCH BOX WORK HARDER
Most of us these days have a food container or lunchbox at home. Just ensure we are using our food containers instead of cling film, foil or zip-lock, to eliminate these wasteful products. You could try this multifunctional sandwich box to packing and preparing food on the go, or you could try a natural bee green wrap to use as an alternative to cling film or sandwich bags.
What a lot more people are also doing now is bringing their own food containers to restaurants to pack up any leftovers they might have and avoid the single-use ones provided. Amazing- a great way to avoid using single use plastic and going plastic free.
7. SAY NO TO DISPOSABLE CUTLERY
We’ve all been caught out here before – we head out for some lunch, buy a salad or yoghurt, and the only cutlery on offer are those plastic ones! While it’s hard to plan for every opportunity, consider carrying some reusable cutlery, similar to our bamboo set or nested stainless steel ones. That way, whenever you’re faced with plastic cutlery again, you can dip into your bag or back pocket, and voila!
So that brings our top 7 ways to avoid single use plastic to an end. All seven ways are pretty reasonable to work with- all it takes is a few small lifestyle changes and a gentle consideration each morning before we leave the house, and by going plastic free we could be building a better future for tomorrow!
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