World Environment Day took place on 5th June. It is a call to action for everyone to come together to make changes to their lives to help cut plastic and to raise awareness about protecting our environment. It began in 1974 and has continued to grow each year with over 100 countries now supporting the campaign.
The theme for 2018 was Beat Plastic Pollution and was designed to invite us all to consider making changes in our everyday life to reduce the heavy burden on plastic pollution on our natural places, wildlife and our own health.
As a nation we have become too dependent on single use plastic with severe environmental consequences. The distressing footage from Blue Planet 2 of plastic damaging our oceans has highlighted a global problem which we all need to address. The debris from plastic causes damage to the eco systems, financial losses to fisheries and tourism and costs the economy in both time and money spent cleaning up the beaches.
Drifting plastic can accumulate algae and smells similar to the krill that marine life feeds on. Thousands of albatross chicks choke on plastics and suffer starvation and toxicity which results in death. Other birds, Fish and marine mammals can get caught in plastic discarded in the oceans and die.
The United Nations have released some alarming facts about plastic in their overview for World Environment Day.
Up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used each year
13 Million Tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year
17 million barrels of oil are used in plastic production each year
1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute
100,000 marine animals are killed by plastics each year
It takes 100 years for plastic to degrade in the environment
In the next 10-15 years plastic production is set to double
World Environment Day aims to influence change in four key areas
Reduce single use plastic
Improve waste management
Phase out micro plastics
Promote research into alternatives
While many people are starting to opt for paper straws rather than plastic and are cleaning beaches and coastlines the problem is one of design and needs our manufacturers, distributers and consumers to change their habits.
Here are some tips on how to reduce your plastic use.
1 Carry a re-usable bottle which can be refilled. This will save money and cut your plastic use, but remember to clean it thoroughly to avoid bacteria build up.
2 Use a cotton or other non-plastic bag for your shopping
3 Try to use beauty products which are free from micro beads. The good news is that the government have announced a ban on microbeads which comes into force later this year.
4 Get your milk delivered. Not only are you supporting your local farmer but the milk is in glass bottles which can be collected and cleaned.
5 Try to buy your fruit and veg loose rather than pre packed in plastic. You could consider using a local farm shop or grower to get your fruit and veg delivered.
6 Clothing made from synthetic fibres flake off in washing machines and enter the water course. Try buying clothes which are made from natural fibres.
7 Say no to plastic straws and disposable cutlery.
8 Spend 2 minutes while walking the dog, picking up plastic and litter from your beach.
9 Reduce consumption and recycle.
10 Campaign and encourage your local shops, restaurants and bars to switch to cartons, wrappers and containers that are an alternative to plastic.