You’ve all seen Blue Planet 2 with natural history guru and nationally protected treasure David Attenborough, right? I’ve seen bits of it, but the general gist seems to be: humans suck. Which I knew already, but it somehow seems more poignant in David Attenborough’s dulcet tones.
As I gather, an ongoing theme of the series has been pollution, particularly plastic pollution, of the world’s water. Who is ever going to forget the footage of that poor mother pilot whale dragging her baby around? Seals eating plastic bags because they mistake them for jellyfish, seabirds getting tangled in floating plastic…these are all real things that happen.
Fortunately, reducing the amount of plastic you send to landfill is possible. Some are obvious, and some I’ve learned from experience – but I guarantee it’s easier to make a difference than you think! Here’s what you can do:
Recycle at home
This is by far the easiest one. Most (if not all) local authorities provide kerbside facilities such as wheelie bins for plastic recycling, so drinks bottles, food containers etc can be put in these and collected. Make sure you check that what you’re putting in can actually be processed by kerbside recycling facilities – and wash everything out before you put it in, or it’ll go mouldy!
Don’t buy single use carrier bags
Fun fact: plastic bags, along with clingfilm, can’t go in your kerbside recycling facility. This is because they frequently jam the machinery at the recycling facilities, costing time and money. Currently the destination for plastic wraps and carrier bags is landfill – and potentially the sea.
The best way to prevent this is to limit the amount of these materials you buy. Plastic bags are easy: for 20p you can get four bags for life from a supermarket and leave them in the boot of your car. For something like a quid you can buy a little foldaway bag to stick in your coat pocket or your handbag. You’re saving yourself money AND the planet. Win win.
Say no to straws
You know how when you go to a bar or a restaurant and order a cocktail or something you normally get a wee straw in it? Next time, ask for it without a straw when you order. Imagine the number of drinks they serve every day, and the number of straws…the more people who ask for them to be left out, the fewer will end up in the bin!
I’m not sure if fast food restaurants like McDonalds will give you drinks without lids or straws, but it’s worth a shot! I hardly ever eat in McDonalds anymore so someone ask and let me know what they say. 😊
Take a coffee flask with you
Anyone else a coffee fiend? Frappuccino addict? Hot chocolate connoisseur? Did you know that coffee shops like Starbucks, Costa etc. will quite happily give you your drink in your own cup if you have one? In fact most chains actually sell them in store and often do deals like your first coffee for free if you buy a cup. Using your own receptacle saves plastic and paper – and I gather that your coffee is cheaper if you’re not getting a cup as well! Bonus.
Organise a beach cleanup
Been to the beach lately? If it’s anything like my local one it’ll be a mixture of sand, seaweed and trash. Not even landfill rubbish, but empty bottles that people have just thrown down mid-party or picnic and left. When the winds kick up or the tide comes in, guess where the empty Frosty Jacks bottle is going?
Take some binbags, your friends and family, a dog (because dogs make everything more fun) and clean up a little bit of the shoreline near where you live. I know sometimes it feels like peeing into the wind, to be blunt, but every little helps – and the more people chipping in, the more you’ll be able to clear!
Tell your friends!
I’m sharing this information with you, PBPR readers. You may have friends and family who haven’t stumbled across these pointers in one form or another, particularly if they don’t have or use the internet often. Tell them! Ask them if they recycle, buy them multi-use bags, encourage them to have their margarita without a straw. They’re better that way, trust me.
It can be demoralising to look at the state of things, and sometimes it can feel like a drop in an impossibly huge ocean. Be that drop. Start the ripple.