'2050. The year it's predicted that, without action, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish '. Friends of the Earth For some time now I have been getting more and more concerned with the amount of single use plastic I use.
It’s time to take action...
I am not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions however this year there was one thing I felt I could really engage with, and that was to reduce the amount of single use plastic and non-recyclables I use.
For as long as I can remember I have used reusable bottles and flasks when I am out walking and canoeing, however I am guilty as the next person of grabbing a quick take away coffee and relishing the feeling of clutching that warm drink as I wander aimlessly down the street. But it’s a ticking time bomb that cup and here’s why:-
In the UK we use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day, yes EVERY DAY. That is 2.5 billion every year. And the problems don’t stop there. Technically the individual components of said coffee cup are recyclable, but in reality it is very difficult to do so and less than 1% are actually recycled. They therefore end up as land waste, if the owner has been responsible and actually managed to put it in the bin, or it ends up on the side of the road. Plastics take hundreds of years to break down, and in the process they produce ‘micro-plastics’. These can be ingested by animals and end up in the food cycle. So yes, when you see photographs of fish being cut open with their stomachs full of plastic you need to remember that we can’t see the micro plastics which have made their way in to their muscles (the bit we eat).
The success of Blue Plant 2 had opened out eyes to the problem of plastic pollution, but we still don’t really know how massive the impact is – yet. Plastic is a major concern yes, but the paper component of coffee cups is not without its environmental harms either. Many cups that are used on the high street are made from virgin paper pulp, this means the trees must be cut down to produce a product that only ends up being used for the time it takes you and I to consume our frothy coffee. Then you have the carbon footprint of manufacturing these single use items….need I go on?
There are many initiatives out there that we can all support;
Friends of the Earth have launched their #PlasticFreeFriday campaign which encourages us all to dedicate one day to being plastic free.
Surfers Against Sewage are active in getting us all the reduce the amount we use with campaigns, petitions and events we can all get involved in. I love their ‘Share the Facts’ where you can tweet/Facebook a simple fact direct from their website.
The Marine Conservation Society (who are based in my home town!) have some excellent information on their website under the title of Stop the Plastic Tide, including a challenge for us all the Refuse the Straw.
And finally, there is our very own OS #GetOutside Champion Lizzie Carr aka Lizzie Outside who has set up #PlasticPatrol, a nationwide campaign to rid our inland waterways of plastic pollution.
And me? What I am doing. Well, for a start I am no longer buying bottled water, where possible I buy food and drink in recyclable packaging, I have a number of e-coffee cups which I take with me for those – oooh I want a frothy coffee and a wander moments – and I have pledged to do my bit with helping Lizzie Outside and get out in my canoe, with the Scouts too, for a River Wye clean up. AND I have taken up 'plogging', which is going for a run collecting litter as you go - how easy it that? Now, what are you going to do?