Humans produce 300 million tonnes of plastic per year – 5 million tonnes of which ends up in our oceans. This is a huge, worldwide issue that isn’t going to go away, and so it’s time we all made a change. The use of plastic is mainly habitual, and so by breaking our usual daily habits and making new ones, we can make a real difference, one step at a time. Below are 10 plastic items you could easily cut out of your life, with the minimal fuss. Why not start by eliminating these items and see where you end up?
A study conducted by Keep Britain Tidy’s Centre for Social Innovation has found that the presence of large and brightly coloured litter leads to further littering by others, as people feel it must be socially acceptable in the area they are in. The research also showed that if an area is free from this bold litter, it is less likely that people will litter there.
The ‘Beacons of Litter’ social experiment was conducted in two locations: Stourbridge in the West Midlands and Stoke Newington in north-east London. Within each location, three areas were cleaned up; one area was kept clean, one had ‘beacon’ items planted in it (large/brightly coloured litter), and one had smaller items of litter planted in it, such as small pieces of paper and tissues.
All of the areas were then monitored for litter and human behaviour regarding litter, with observations in this study totalling 72 hours. The experiment was conducted six times within a two-week time period at each location.
Scientists at the University of Bath have developed a plastic-free microbead alternative that won’t pollute our oceans.
Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than 5mm in width, which are often found in beauty products such as body and facial scrubs, and toothpaste. These tiny plastic beads have met heavy criticism in recent years due to the fact that they slip through sewage filtration systems, ending up in our waterways and oceans, where they are innocently consumed by marine life and birds. In fact, a recent study estimated that nine in 10 of the world’s seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.
I love reading zero waste blogs, and articles about zero waste advocates such as Bea Johnson. However, with enjoyment and admiration comes frustration at the zero waste lifestyle they all discuss being so difficult to achieve in smaller towns and cities which don’t often offer the option of purchasing an array of loose produce.
Certainly the town I live in doesn’t have anywhere dedicated to selling loose produce such as nuts, seeds, pulses, spices and household cleaning liquids. The local market sells loose fruit and vegetables, but that is where the line is drawn. Even if it did sell the loose items I required, the journey to and from the market wouldn’t be very earth-friendly as it is far away from my home and I couldn’t cycle with all my goods.
So, what do you do if your circumstances aren’t ideal for living a zero waste lifestyle? You try your best with the options you have available to you, because some waste reduction is better than no waste reduction. Try the below suggestions to cut your waste.
Peter Borg-Neal, the boss of UK pub chain Oakman Inns, was recently shown a YouTube video of a turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nostril, with the turtle in obvious pain and discomfort. This video had a huge impact on him personally and therefore on his business, too. Borg-Neal said:
“My response when I saw the video was the same as anyone else. It’s appalling and horribly unnecessary. Those straws simply should not be in the sea.”
In a direct reaction to the video he watched, Borg-Neal decided to restrict straw availability in his chain of 17 pubs, which had been collectively working their way through 100,000 plastic straws per month. He rolled out the campaign across the chain on 22nd April 2017, only giving out straws when they are requested; no longer giving them out automatically.
Street cleansing costs UK taxpayers almost £1 billion per year in England alone, and that is just the monetary cost of litter; it also impacts upon community wellbeing and mental health, wildlife, local business, tourism, wildlife, and the environment. Furthermore, it encourages other anti-social behaviour.
Despite the best efforts of local councils, there are still many spots around Yorkshire (and further afield) where litter builds up – after all, 62% of people in England drop litter, although only 28% admit to it, and councils have a budget to work within. However, 57% of people in England feel that litter is a problem in their area. Is it an issue in your area?
Aldi has unveiled new fresh produce packaging, which features tips on maximising shelf life and cutting food waste at home.
This news comes following the January 2017 announcement that UK households wasted 7.3 million tonnes of food in 2015. This figure was higher than previous years, meaning food waste at home is on the rise despite Government pledges to cut it. WRAP encouraged retailers to make changes following January’s annoucement, and this packaging change is Aldi’s response.