Something has been bothering me for ages but when I think about it, or how I can help the situation, it seems so overwhelming that I just don’t know where to start. That ‘thing’ is our use of plastics; we are literally clogging up our beautiful world and the creatures in the ocean with old water bottles and plastic bags. I was shocked this summer when visiting a marine park near Miami where they talked about how badly our stunning oceans had already been affected and I am sure many of you have taken walks along the shoreline on beaches and seen evidence of exactly what I mean. As a child I remember snorkelling with my Dad, being amazed at the beauty that was underneath the waves and as a keen swimmer and lover of marine life I am beginning to panic.
A FEW FACTS THAT WILL REALLY GET YOU THINKING.
- Its takes 450 years for one plastic bottle to break down into the ground.
- Oil which is a non-renewable resource is used in all plastic items
- 'The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is the name given to a collection of marine debris mostly compromising of plastic in the North Pacific Ocean.
- Twenty Five PET bottles (polyethylene terephthalate, which is recyclable) can be used to make an adult fleece.
- Recycling a single plastic bottle conserves enough energy to light a 60W bulb.
Plastic is a really useful modern material, lightweight, unbreakable and cheap. But it is now so widely used that it is becoming an environmental problem. Mostly made from non renewable oil, plastic does not rot, we are literally stuck for centuries with the bloody stuff and not all plastics are currently recyclable. Plastic floating in the world's oceans has become an increasing problem in recent years, a major report in January said oceans would contain more plastic than fish by 2050 ( and I am not going to be the one to tell Nemo) unless the worldtakes radical action we are in trouble. Now that’s super frightening.
At least eight million tonnes of plastic already ends up in the ocean every year. This is the equivalent of a rubbish truck of waste every minute and the rate of plastic pollution is only expected to increase as more and more plastic is used globally, especially in emerging economies with weaker waste and recycling regimes.
You don’t have to have a master’s degree in the environment to figure that THIS CANNOT GO ON.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
This is the tricky bit, just a quick dash around a supermarket will get my blood boiling, so much packaging and labelling on everything. We need to make a stand and put some pressure on all the big supermarket chains to reduce the huge amount of packaging that they use.
I often feel like taking all my food out of the excessive and unnecessary packaging at the checkout and leaving a huge pile at the till to show the supermarkets how ridiculous it has all become. Why do we all spend fortunes on plastic bottles of water when we can buy a reusable bottle and fill it up from the tap? We are lazy! It breaks my heart to think about what we are doing, it’s so important to remember that we are just caretakers of this wonderful planet and it is our job to keep it safe and intact for future generations.
It’s the greatest of mistakes to do nothing because you can only to a little. Do what you can. Lots of small changes will have a big impact. I love that fact that a few forward thinking companies are now using the plastics that would otherwise pollute our environment to make amazing and creative clothing.
Most people discard plastic bottles after only one use but they are made of 100% recyclable PET. This can be shredded, melted and turned into fibres for carpets and clothes, made into brush bristles or moulded into garden furniture. Inventive upcyclers reuse non-recyclable plastic snack packets, fish feed sacks and biscuit wrappers. They cut, fold and sew or weave pieces together to make handbags, purses, plant holders and other useful items.
So if you can, try and support them and let’s keep this conversation going and apply some more pressure on the supermarkets. Remember lots of small changes make a huge impact.