5 simple things you can do to reduce plastic pollution and keep our oceans clean
Easy ways that you can help reduce plastic pollution
1) Get a re-useable coffee mug
25 billion single use coffee cups are thrown away in the UK each year*. That's enough to stretch more than 5 times around the planet. Currently only 0.25% are recycled, leaving a huge amount of waste, some of which finds it's way into our oceans. 20% of the litter found on our beaches during the Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean was this type of 'on the go' rubbish. Fortunately it is really easy for you to be part of the solution and it is such a win, win solution. Treat yourself to an awesome re-useable coffee cup. Making a hot drink to go in your own mug could save you over £1000 in take away costs over a year. What adventures would you spend that on? Not ready to give up your favourite coffee shop latte? No problem, you can still be a game changer, challenge yourself to take your re-useable mug next time you visit the coffee shop and congratulate yourself that not only are you saving waste but you are being a positive role model. Think of how many other people will be inspired by seeing you taking action. Let's make re-useable the new normal. *Figures from UK Government audit report
2) Wash with care
When we wash synthetic fabrics in the washing machine, small pieces of micro plastic are dislodged, (think how much fluff collects in your dryer). The water containing the micro plastics goes down the drain and the plastics eventually end up in the ocean where they are consumed by small ocean creatures and enter the ocean food chain. Fortunately this is another problem that you can take really simple action to resolve. You can reduce the amount of micro plastics escaping from your clothing by choosing natural fibres where possible, using a slower spin cycle. You might not be ready for a complete natural fibre wardrobe upgrade just yet but you can still help to stop the problem with this innovative solution, a Guppyfriend. Guppy friend is a bag that you put your clothes inside before you put them in the washing machine. Anyone who washes their delicate clothing in a pillow case will be familiar with the concept. The Guppy Friend traps the tiny micro plastics, preventing them entering the water.
3) Don't flush cotton buds
The Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean found an average of more than 25 cotton buds for every hundred meters of beach. Just how are so many ending up on our beaches? A major part of the problem is that if cotton buds are flushed down the toilet they can pass through the water system and into the sea. Action is already being taken on this, most major retails are switching to selling paper stemmed cotton buds and Scottish Government is considering a ban on the plastic stemmed variety. In the meantime you can show you support by buying paper stemmed cotton buds, disposing of used buds in the bin not down the toilet and letting you know that you support a ban on plastic buds.
4) Help prevent nurdle spills
Nurdles are small pellets of plastic which are the raw materials that goes into the plastic manufacturing process. Unfortunately if not handled carefully during shipping to and from factories, these naughty nurdles can be subject to spills and find themselves in our oceans and rivers. Once in the water they break down into microplastics which are ingested by marine organisms and enter the food chain with harmful effects. You can do your bit to help by keeping your eyes peeled when you are on the beach. The good people from the environmental group FIDRA are always keen to hear about your nurdle finds, especially along Scotland's riversides and coast. The organise The Great Nurdle Hunt which is really easy to take part in. Check out https://www.nurdlehunt.org.uk/take-part.html for more details. Even if you aren't lucky enough to live along Scotland's coast you can do your bit to keep nurdles out of the sea by showing your support online for Operation Clean Sweep, a campaign to push industry to eliminate nurdle spills.
5) Wrap your snacks in beeswax
So you are heading down to the beach for a day out and maybe a little litter pick up. Instead of wrapping your sandwiches in cling film or foil which even if you dispose of them carefully, which I am sure you would, still add to our global waste pile, how about using beeswax wrap instead. These wraps come in various sizes to suit all sandwich appetites, as well as so many awesome designs. They are made from cotton fabric, infused with beeswax, jajoba oil and tree resin to provide a naturally antibacterial, re-useable snack wrapper. Note, this tip works equally well for taking sandwiches to work ;)