Polzeath Marine Conservation Group
REDUCING PLASTIC IN YOUR LIFE, AND THE SEA.
Here are some tips to help you reduce your use of plastic....
★ Take reusable shopping bags to the supermarket or shop. Promise yourself not to accept single-use plastic ones. Even supposedly ‘biodegradable’ bags only actually degrade if properly composted – which is rarely the case. Plastic bags have a devastating impact on ocean wildlife.
★ Avoid water or drinks in plastic bottles. 15 million of these bottles are now bought and thrown away each day in the UK alone. In a year, if laid end to end, this would be enough bottles to go twice around the world. Check out ‘Midway’ a film by Chris Jordan at http://www.midwayfilm.com to see the impact of single use plastic on an island thousands of miles from the nearest human.
★ Avoid plastic straws, cups, plates, cutlery, etc. Even takeaway cups that are apparently made from paper are coated in a plastic film and can’t be recycled. Take a packed lunch to work or on trips, instead of buying takeaways or packaged supermarket sandwiches, etc. If you bring your own mug many cafés will fill it for you.
★ Get your milk delivered in glass bottles. Or buy milk in bags – they are cheaper and create less waste than plastic bottles.
★ Buy fruit and vegetables loose – there’s no need to put them in a plastic bag. Try to avoid food in plastic or Styrofoam trays that cannot be recycled.
★ Recycle any unwanted plastic bags you accumulate (bread bags, fruit bags, etc.) in the dedicated bins at larger supermarkets. 8 billion supermarket bags are given out in the UK each year – but only 1 in 200 are recycled. Check out the first episode of the current series of ‘Bang Goes The Theory’ for amazing uses for plastic at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01r6yqt/Bang_Goes_the_Theory_Series_7_Episode_1/ I’m not sure how long the link will last, so note this was added here 24/03/13.
★ Don’t flush anything plastic down the loo. Cotton buds, dental floss, sanitary items, etc. are often not filtered out in sewage treatment and end up in the sea.
★ Lots of the plastic in the ocean starts out as litter on the land that washes down drains into the sea. When you go to the beach, try to pick up at least one piece of plastic and dispose of it properly. Every piece you pick up is one piece less in the sea! Check out http://www.litterheroes.co.uk/index.htm for more ideas on how you can become a litter hero...
★ Avoid cosmetics (especially face and body scrubs) with the ingredients ‘propylene’, ‘micro-fine polyethylene granules’, ‘polyethylene micro-spheres’, ‘polyethylene beads’ or ‘polyethylene’. These are in fact tiny plastic granules.
★ Use clothes made from cotton, wool or other natural materials as much as you can. Synthetic fibres like nylon or polyester are forms of plastic. Each garment releases up to 2,000 microscopic fibres per wash – they’re now even found in the Antarctic.
★ Instead of throwing away plastic that can’t be recycled, try to reuse or repurpose it – there are loads of great ideas on the Internet. You can make anything; from bags and jewellery, to bird feeders, greenhouses, lampshades, scoops, plant holders, boats….
★ Compost your kitchen waste. It’s great for the garden and will reduce the amount of plastic rubbish bags you use.
★ Use powder detergent in cardboard boxes rather than liquids in plastic bottles.
★ Reuse bubble wrap and padded envelopes.
★ If it’s a child’s birthday, don’t give out plastic party bags with lots of plastic toys that will soon break and be thrown away. How about just one nice (non-plastic) present like a book?
★ Avoid balloon releases at parties/ weddings, etc. Many of these end up in the sea and are devastating to wildlife (have a look at www.balloonsblow.org)....
★ When you throw away plastic six pack holders or any other ring-shaped pieces of plastic, cut each loop to ensure animals cannot get trapped in them.
If you want to do even more….
•Write to environment minister Richard Benyon at Defra, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR asking him why the Government has failed to act on its pledge to reduce plastic bag use (making England the only country in the UK not to have done so).
•Write to supermarkets or product manufacturers to complain about unnecessary and excessive plastic packaging.
•Write to the manufacturers of cosmetics containing plastic and ask them to follow Unilever’s lead by removing these particles.
The above handy advice comes from Claire Wallerstein - organiser of the Rame Peninsula BeachCare group. More information about the group can be found on their Facebook page.