Say no to PLASTIC

It’s a well-known fact that plastics can take hundreds of years to biodegrade – if they do at all. Yet it’s estimated that 86,400,000,000 (eighty-six billion, four hundred million) plastic bottles are sold every single day in the world. Thankfully, many businesses are now taking measures to help reduce the impact of plastic, such as replacing their protective packaging with more eco-friendly options, but there’s no doubt that we’ve still got a long way to go. So, what can we all do about it?

Paper straws

• A matter of days to biodegrade

• A paper straw wouldn’t last the duration of a long weekend.

Plastic straws

• 200 years to biodegrade

• If Queen Victoria used a plastic straw at her coronation (in 1838) it could be on display in a museum today.

What’s the problem?

In the UK we throw away an estimated 8.5 billion plastic straws every year. It’s estimated that 30% of turtles and 71% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.

What’s the solution?

Many places are banning plastic straws entirely, and some of the largest global companies have already announced plans to eliminate the use of plastic straws in all their locations around the world. In the UK, following the success of the plastic bag charge and the ban on microbeads, all single-use plastics will soon be banned.

We already have a replacement for plastic straws; paper straws were invented before plastic ones and should soon return to being standard around the country.

100% biodegradable cups

• Biodegrade in three to six months

Polystyrene foam cups

• Will never biodegrade

• If polystyrene foam was around during the Jurassic period, we’d find it next to dinosaur fossils.

What’s the problem?

Polystyrene is difficult to recycle and is not accepted by many recycling plants. It also breaks up easily, meaning it can be ingested by marine animals.

What’s the solution?

There are calls for every disposable cup to be recyclable by 2023; this will include paper cups, many of which do also include a thin layer of plastic to make the paper waterproof. If this target isn’t met there are plans to completely ban all disposable cups in the UK.

Microbeads (polyethylene)

• Never biodegrade

What’s the problem?

They attract and concentrate toxic chemicals from their surroundings. The microbeads enter our food chain when they are consumed by fish. 

What’s the solution?

in an attempt to protect our oceans and our food chain. There are a number of alternatives which are not only better for the environment, but kinder to our skin.

Sugar and salt both work like microbeads to exfoliate our skin. If DIY isn’t your thing, all products on UK shelves are now free of microbeads, so companies are already finding safer alternatives.

What can we do?

Unfortunately, solving the problem isn’t as simple as banning all single-use plastic. Over time, the majority of plastic that enters our oceans is broken down into tiny microplastics. Of the estimated 5.25 trillion pieces (five-and-a-quarter million, million) of plastic in our oceans, 92% are microplastics, which cannot be recycled.

Packaging Materials

These now make up the largest market for plastic and globally account for almost half of the plastic waste.

Reusable shopping bags

Take care to remember your reusable bags when going to the supermarket. 

Reusable water bottle

Globally almost a million plastic drinks bottles are sold every minute, but many cafés now offer free water refills for your reusable bottles. You can visit the Refill website, or download the free app, to find out where this is offered near you.

Reusable coffee cups

Take your own cup and get money off your morning coffee. 

Say no to straws

Ask for your drink without a straw, if you need one use paper – or buy a reusable one.

Get savvy with recyclables

Be aware of which plastic products are recyclable. Plastic ready-meal trays are coloured black to make the food look more appealing, but this colour means the plastic cannot be recycled. The easy solution is to read the label to check if the tray can be recycled, and if not, find a different brand that can be.

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