So I think I can safely say I win the award for the least festive post, but it’s also kind of timely. T’is the season of consumerism and all that goes with that, so bear with me…
“The future of all life now depends on us” Sir David Attenborough warned, in that glorious voice you can only pay attention to.
The final episode of Blue Planet gave us a stark look at the impact of human behaviour on marine life; shock was promptly followed by sadness. This immediately brought about a rallying call on social media to do more to protect our environment. Even MPs got involved- a flurry of tweets ensued, pledging their alliance with ‘backing the blue belt’. Since then it’s all sort of died down. Well it is Christmas, and we need to dash off to buy ALL the things.
At work this week I was (trying to) organise contributors to speak about the subject of plastics in our oceans. Nearly all were too busy to come on camera, not too busy to tweet about it though…
This got me thinking. It’s one thing declaring how heart broken you are on social media, and how disgraceful we are as a race, but what are we actually going to do about it? Fair enough we can lobby MPs and get them to sign up to #backthebluebelt, and help increase marine protection in the overseas territories here but once we’ve tweeted our MP then what?
Whenever I hear the word ‘plastics’ I usually think of Mean Girls (if you know you know right?) but now I just think ‘mean humans’. It’s a never-ending chain. Plastic manufacturers aren’t going to stop- they make a mountain of money from our mass consumer habits, and government changes can take an age, so ultimately I think it’s down to us.
Last week I made a note of all the plastics I used in one day and was horrified. From my toothbrush, to food packaging, the fork I used at work, to the cup for the water cooler, even the plastic wrapping on the dishwasher tablet (why though?)
So imagine if everyone I know stopped. Just stopped using as much plastic. Then imagine if everyone they know stopped. Imagine if ALL humans stopped. We’ve survived the 5p plastic bag charge so why not go further? Just one person might not seem like a lot, but if you just think ‘fuck it, one person isn’t going to make a difference’ then nothing would ever change. Yes I did go and watch the Lorax recently (thanks Wordy) and if you haven’t seen it, do it. Just take a reusable drinks bottle with you…
SEVEN WAYS WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE NOW
- 1. CWARFEE
How about that daily coffee on your commute? The UK throws away an estimated 2.5 BILLION cups a year, and there are only TWO places in the UK with the facilities to recycle them (a standard recycling mill cannot separate the material in the cup that makes it waterproof) and don’t forget about all those lids either, or the extra sleeve, and the stirrer, not to mention the individual pods we use at home…Jeez.
Just take your own cup in- Pret offer 25p off a coffee if you provide your own, which is going up to 50p in January. Hurrah! Also this makes use of all those cute cups you buy that just sit in your cupboard gathering dust. Some coffee shops offer a free drink if you buy a reusable cup from them, and they also make great Christmas gifts too!
- 2. WATER BOTTLES
What about the 38.5 MILLION plastic water bottles we use in the UK? Only half of these get recycled…
I realised I was buying two bottles a day on some occasions which is insane. Yes I bloody love an Evian, but I also love having money to spend on something that I can’t get for free.
I bought a massive one so I could make sure I was drinking more water, and for some reason bringing my own water bottle to fill up at work also made me drink a load more water too. Win win!
So treat yourself to a bottle and think of all the other glorious things you can spend your cash on instead. Just make sure your bottle is BPA free.
While you’re at it, add to your amazon order some Tupperware and let’s cut down the amount of cling film we use.
- 3. UTENSILS
Use your own cutlery. Our work canteen charges 5p to use their plastic cutlery if you bring in your own lunch, and rightly so. You can use their regularly cutlery for free! If you can be bothered to make your own lunch you can be bothered to open the draw to grab a fork too.
- 4. DITCH THE STRAW
Now I likes me a Gin, but I never drink it with a straw. The only Straw I need in my life is my darling man (it’s his surname) so let’s ditch the straws for all our other drinks too. Just Google the video of the turtle having a straw pulled out of its nose. You’ll never want to use one again. So many pubs and bars have jumped on this and if you are a bar/café/restaurant owner you can join up to Straw Wars here. http://strawwars.org/
- 5. GNASHERS
Ditch the plastic toothbrush. I never even thought of this until I made a note of all the plastics I used in a day. Yes we don’t use that many every year but think of all the billions of people, it all adds up. I know a few people that buy Bamboo toothbrushes, just make sure you can actually recycle them. A few sneaky companies sell ones where you have to remove the bristles before recycling, or it just gets dumped, which defeats the object obvs.
There’s a really interesting post written on ‘My Plastic Free Life’ about how biodegradable some of these toothbrushes really are, pig hair anyone? You can read her post here.
- 7. IT’S A WRAP
Food packaging has to be the WORST. It’s actually ridiculous. You buy your apples on a plastic tray, wrapped in plastic, then you put them in a plastic bag (although hopefully not now) and take them home, just to ditch all the plastic. WTF. It’s fairly easy to buy plastic-free fruit and veg, shop at markets and smaller shops where they’re not as packaging obsessed, or just buy them individually and don’t use a bag. You should be washing them anyway, so it literally makes no difference.
I think half the problem is councils don’t make it easy, or clear what can be recycled and how. Maybe this is something we need to address more? Scandinavian countries, and places like Germany are smashing it at recycling, it’s such a shame we’re so rubbish at it. Pun intended.
This is an important subject, and I do feel passionately about it. I think the more it’s talked about and passed on the better. I went diving in the Great Barrier Reef last year. It made me really sad how bleached everything was, and I felt so guilty for even being there, but it was an incredible and humbling experience.
Let’s clean up our acts and clean up the oceans. If you want to know HOW it all ends up there, check out this Green Peace article here. https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/plastic-end-ocean/
To find out about what to do with your food packaging read here.
Bored of your regular Netflix? Watch Chasing Coral here.
Other useful links:
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL, spend it with those that matter and the people you love, whoever they are,