The great Plastic debate is everywhere!
We did our own beach pick a few weeks ago which I was meaning to write about, but I was prompted and motivated by the screening of ITV’s Tonight programme (Plastic : Can You Live Without It) yesterday, to investigate more.
It seems like all of a sudden we are all talking about plastics. The media coverage has become huge, from the news to nature programmes. For me, the real wake-up call was the brilliant Blue Planet II, which highlighted the damage being done by plastics to our marine life in particular. By 2050, the plastic in the world’s oceans will weigh more than all the fish, according to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. It has also been reported that up to 90% of our seabirds could be contaminated with plastic.
Of course big businesses have to play a big part. The Tonight Programme survey showed 85% of people want supermarkets to stop selling plastic that can’t be recycled. We saw in the programme that the Co-Op is already making a move in that direction. Many people think it is up to the government to sort out the problem. If so, then with the current government plan we would be waiting until 2042 for action (a 25 year plan), but for many this is way too long. It has been quoted that by this time, judging by current rates, British people would have used 192.5 billion plastic bottles.
I am proud to be living North of the Border,
where the Scottish government are already taking more positive steps towards reducing waste, including plastics. As part of the scheme Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish government sets out a vision for a zero waste society. This vision describes a Scotland where all waste is seen as a resource; Waste is minimised; valuable resources are not disposed of in landfills, and most waste is sorted, leaving only limited amounts to be treated. This includes the introduction of a deposit-return scheme, much like those run in other European countries such as Norway, Germany and Finland. We saw the scheme in play at Edinburgh Zoo in last night’s programme, and it is due to be rolled out in Scotland soon.
You can also read about Zero Waste Dunbar, Scotland’s first Zero Waste town, which is a whole other, very interesting story, which we will perhaps look at separately at a later date.
But what about us, the ordinary folk? What can we do to make a difference?
The Marine Conservation Society reports that around 40% of beach litter can be directly sourced to the public. We all have a part to play. It also reports that Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles. They also found that since the carrier bag charge came in across the UK, the Great British Beach Clean has recorded 40% fewer bags on beaches.
I have a real interest in cleaning up our beaches in particular. I found so many brilliant organisations via social media, all encouraging us to do our bit. You might want to check some of them out:
People Planet Plastic TV #GiveSeaLifeAHand
Here is a really simple list of minor changes we can make, compiled from several sources.
Let us know which ones you are willing to commit to, and we will share them on social media.
- Take your own rubbish home and recycle it.
- Pick up (at least) 3 pieces of rubbish every time you visit the beach (or other places of beauty/nature). Make sure you recycle it.
- Reduce the amount of plastic you use at home – buy things with less packaging, buy loose where possible.
- Take drinks with you rather than buying take-away, or at least take your own cup
- “If it’s black, put it back”. Black plastic can’t generally be recycled, so avoid it in supermarkets and send the message that we don’t want it.
- Stop using plastic carrier bags. Take your own, preferably cloth bags. (See Morsbags.com)
- Stop using plastic straws and stirrers. We simply don’t need them.
- The basic principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are a good guide.
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