Plastic is man made, it can’t break down safely unlike biodegradable packaging. Instead it's broken down into tiny fragments which wreak havoc. According to Friends of the Earth only 9% of the world's plastic waste has ever been be recycled. Studies have shown that 12 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans each year every year.
Another alarming fact presented by Surfers against Sewage is that a plastic bottle can remain in the ocean for 450 years until it breaks down.
And what happens to those tiny microscopic pieces?
Most of you are aware of the devastating effects this has on sea life, we've all seen those pictures of birds and other sea creatures being strangled and drowned by ocean plastics, but did you know that plastics end up in our diets after they have broken down? You can find plastic in our bellies too, not just in birds and sea creatures.
The biggest culprits of our plastic problem are single use plastics, these include; plastic bags, straws, cutlery, water bottles and food packaging. The world produces 300 million tonnes of plastic each year and half of that is for single use plastics.
You may only be one person, but if we all act together to make a change, we’ll become an army fighting to save our planet. Together we can make a big change.
Its easy to reduce your plastic use without having to make drastic changes, best to start off with small changes and if you want to, you can work your way up to adopting a plastic free lifestyle.
Stop using plastic bottles
Invest in a reusable stainless steel bottles. Those bad boys are indestructible. They're lightweight, can keep your drink cold and don't cost the earth. Just think how many times have you been out about in London desperate for a drink? This has happened to me on so many occasions where I'm forced to spend £3 for a tiny bottle of water or orange juice. But with a reusable bottle you can bring a drink form home for free.
Cut down on fast food
Fast food tastes great but is this industry that's largely responsible for single use plastic items such as disposable plastic packaging. Impress your work buddies with culinary delights you've made at home. Bring in a packed lunch. If the weather's nice and there's a park by your office, encourage a picnic during your lunch hour.
Or if you're making a long journey via car or train, bring a few snacks from home. This will save you a fortune!
For those times when you do need to have a sit down meal, opt for a restaurant or cafe that uses real cups and plates. Not only will you be helping the environment but the local economy too.
Stop using plastic bags
Seriously just stop. Don't even think about using those bags for life, they're still plastic. Reusable cotton bags can be bought for as little as a pound these days and they last and last. They can take more weight than a plastic bag so you won't have to worry about plastic bags ripping apart when you're walking home.
I always keep a folded up bag in my handbag for those unexpected visits to the supermarket, when you go in for one thing and come out with a basket load!
Stop using disposable coffee cups
I hate these with a burning passion! It’s the big food and drink corporations who are feeding this single use plastic frenzy and some of them also don't like paying their tax. You can show your disapproval on their harmful ways by investing in a thermal coffee cup you can take on the go. You will easily make back on your investment, but if you can’t live without barista brewed coffee bring in your own cup.
Use charity shops
Charity shops are great particularly when you have kids. Most children's toys are plastic, they're expensive and yet break after only a few hours use leaving both you and your child angry and disappointed.
Rather than just buy presents for Christmas and birthdays, give them an experience they won’t forget. You can take them out for a day out at the zoo, aquarium or the cinema. Spend time with your kids, not plastic.
Eat less meat
Now I know this is controversial but all meat comes in plastic packaging and if you want to do your bit, a great way is to cut down on your meat consumption. There's no need to eliminate it entirely from your diet but mass meat farming has devastating effects on our environment as well as the need for plastic.
Eat less processed food
A lot of single use packaging comes from convenience foods. Crisp and sweet bags are big offenders. But you can still do your bit by buying the bigger bags rather than the individually wrapped multi packs which provides more value for money.
It's best to buy fresh food such as fruit and veg which don't have plastic packaging and make your own meals rather than relying on microwave meals. You can always cook a big meal and freeze it in smaller portions.
Its really easy once you get started. One thing you'll realise is that you can save lots of money by using less plastic as well as saving the planet.