Plastics are Suffocating our Oceans

By Ciara Beal

Plastics. No, not the plastics from Mean Girls. I’m talking about single use plastic bottles, bags, straws, cups, cutlery that you use once and then throw away just for pure convenience. In fact, that single plastic bottle you use will end up in landfill where it will take approximately 500 years to decompose. On average, we each use 53 kilograms of plastic a year and generate a combined total of more than 300 million tonnes of plastic waste. Moreover, eight million tonnes of that plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. This affects our marine life. including seals, whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds. After ingesting plastics, particularly microplastics (which are tiny pieces of plastic that come from larger plastics that have degraded over time) the animals suffer for months or years before they die.

By the year 2030 the amount of plastic pollution is predicted to double. with most of the consequences expected to hit the oceans. We must stop this from happening.

What YOU can do to reduce plastic pollution:

  • Recycle! Plastic that you put into the brown bin will go to landfill, where it takes up to five hundred years to decompose. Please put any plastics into the recycling bin and check any labels to see if an object is recyclable or not before putting it into the green bin.
  • Exchange single use disposable coffee cups by purchasing your own reusable eco-coffee cup. Coffee shops such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks charge an extra 5p on the cost of a disposable coffee cup. A reusable travel cup, however, will get you a 25p discount off your hand-crafted drink.
  • Rather than using a plastic bottle, use a stainless steel water bottle. This will last you a lifetime without affecting the oceans. The best part about these bottles is they keep water cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 12 hours!
  • Say no to plastic straws. If you don’t need one, don’t use one. In fact, plastic straws take up to 200 years to decompose. Since you won’t be around that long, buy a metal straw, paper straw or bamboo straw instead.
  • Stop using plastic cutlery. Yes it is convenient, but so is reusable cutlery which you can purchase easily from the shop.
  • You must become responsible for your own and others’ rubbish by picking it up and putting it into the bin, as long as it’s safe to touch.
  • Rather than saying yes to the question “would you like a bag with that?”, say no. Instead, treat yourself to a canvas bag. These come in pretty colours and quirky designs which you can use again and again and personalise to your own style.
  • Start taking action now.

The UK Government has already made progress on plastic reduction following the banning of microbeads, plastic bag charges and the proposals for deposit return schemes for drinks containers. So this is a positive step forward.

Morrisons is now the first supermarket to ban plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables. Shoppers will be allowed to purchase their fruit and veg loose or pop them into a paper bag. This development comes after Tesco announced last year that it would ban hard-to-recycle plastic packaging by 2019 and make all packaging fully recyclable by 2025.

Moreover, Waitrose & Partners is to remove traditional plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables and 5p single-use plastic bags from its stores by next spring. The supermarket said the move would cut 134m plastic bags, the equivalent of 500 tonnes of plastic a year.

It is now up to you to decide to contribute to the action of reducing plastic pollution. Please make a difference for the earth today.

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