If you didn’t see the David Attenborough’s BBC Blue Planet episode on plastics you should do so right now. It is totally horrifying. It would seem to make sense that if you are going to create something as invasive as plastic that you should also have thought about and created the processes that would enable us to get rid of it once it has been used.
I found this article in the Guardian. I cannot believe the amount of plastics that we are producing and then dumping. It is not just in the sea there is a mass of evidence of the effect that plastics are having on soil and even in the air we are breathing.
‘Among retailers and manufacturers, they talk of “the Blue Planet effect”. The BBC series, screened late last year, was the moment that many of us realised the catastrophic impact our use of plastics was having on the world’s oceans. Scenes such as a hawksbill turtle snagged in a plastic sack, the albatrosses feeding their chicks plastic or the mother pilot whale grieving for her dead calf, which may have been poisoned by her contaminated milk, are impossible to un-see.
It’s a crisis that affects us all, and the facts make for dispiriting reading. If nothing changes, one study suggests that by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic swimming around, by weight, than fish. It’s already estimated that one third of fish caught in the Channel contain plastic; another piece of research found that “top European shellfish consumers” could potentially consume up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic a year.
Suddenly our use of plastics is firmly on the political and cultural agenda. While impassioned individuals have been pushing to reduce our use of plastics for a few years, the volume of the debate has been turned up dramatically in recent months.
There is hope, too, that the message is getting across. The 5p charge on carrier bags, introduced in 2015, has led to an 85% drop in their use across England; an astonishing 9bn bags. Here, we highlight pioneers who are tackling the issue of plastics in creative ways.
Across the US, around 500m plastic straws are used and discarded every single day. “We could fill 125 school buses,” says Leigh Ann Tucker, co-founder of Loliware. The straws are made from polypropylene, a petroleum by-product, which is technically recyclable in large formats, but this is practically impossible with something the size of a straw. “So they end up as landfill or ocean pollutants,” Chelsea Briganti, Loliware’s other half, chips in. “We’re drowning in our plastic.”
Britain sucks, too. Here, we throw away an estimated 8.5bn straws annually, easily the most in Europe. In London alone, more straws are used than the whole of Italy. Most campaigns focus on getting rid of plastic straws or using longer-lasting or biodegradable alternatives and these have had considerable traction – now the UK government has announced a consultation on banning plastic straws…..’
So What can we do?
I have been keeping a running check on all the plastics that we use in our house and it is scary. I have even found out that most of plastics that I have been faithfully been putting into the recycle bin are not even recycled, despite having recycled signs on them.
To action – I am going to attempt to not buy anything that is single use plastic. I have ordered some stainless steel drinking straws with a little brush to clean them. Over-all I am going to attempt to stop using plastic as much as is possible.
Can be a real trial. Trying to avoid using leather to be vegetarian friendly often means buying plastic belts and even shoes.
I am in the supermarket thinking that I should buy the wine without the plastic cork. When I get my money out to pay for it I realise that the five and ten pound notes are now all plastic. So I reach for the credit card and that is plastic as well. I reach into my bag to make a note and my pen is plastic and even the cover of my note book has been plasticised.
Plastic really is everywhere. Time to investigate silicone and rubber and understand how they are effecting the environment. I want to go home and throw away anything that is plastic and begin to realise that a) there would be virtually nothing left and b) it would all go to landfill. The last straw is that is you burn it to get rid of it you just fill the air with deadly dioxin.
What a mess….