Plastic in the oceans: what can I do?

June 21, 2018 6:18 am Published by Leave your thoughts

There’s a new awareness about the growing amount of plastic in our oceans – and a new desire to do all we can to prevent the problem of plastic waste. The root of the problem, most agree, lies with producers, manufacturers and governments around the world. Nevertheless, there are many things that all of us, as individuals, can do too. They’ll remedy a small part of an enormous problem – and in doing so, help readjust our way of living and our mindset, moving us towards a greater appreciation of and care for the world around us.

We've got ten suggestions to help you address the plastic problem.

What can YOU do about the plastic problem?                       Image: Mali Maeder

Ten things you can do to help solve the plastic problem

  1. Never, ever litter: only leave plastic waste where you are sure it will be correctly disposed of. If a sweet wrapper blows away from you in the street, chase after it! Much of the plastic in our oceans has travelled via rivers to the sea – having been blown along as litter into the river in the first place.
  2. Take part in a litter pick: not just to beautify your local area, but to make a real difference – even if you live hundreds of miles from the sea! Stop litter blowing into drains, streams and rivers by picking it up and disposing of it correctly.
  3. Take part in a paddle-pick! Perhaps a little more fun than picking up litter alongside a main road in a high-vis jacket: get on a paddleboard and travel along rivers or out to sea, picking up what you can find, using a grabber.
  4. Say no to plastics, especially single-use plastic, as much as you can. Remember your fabric shopping bag when you pop out. Ask for your shopping to be packed without the use of plastic if possible (see our own packaging policy here). Take your own coffee cup out with you. And think of a way to reuse every bit of plastic that enters your home.
  5. Donate to Greenpeace’s End Ocean Plastic Pollution campaign. One voice, one change of lifestyle and one litter-pick has less impact than a thousand voices put together. Greenpeace and other organisations have the ability to put pressure on producers and governments round the world, helping to stop the problem at its source.
  6. Where possible, choose plastic-free packaging options – or options that are as low in plastic as possible. Do you need laundry liquid in a plastic bottle? How about laundry powder in a cardboard box instead?
  7. Choose brands that are generally environmentally friendly . We stock a wide range of planet-friendly brands at Naturally Good Food in our household cleaning and toiletries sections. These brands are moving as quickly as they can towards fully recyclable, fully biodegradable or even entirely plastic-free packaging options. Jump on board with them!
  8. Buy toiletries and household cleaners in bulk and as refills. It’s wasteful to buy a whole new plastic bottle of hand-soap every time, when all you really need is the liquid inside. Buying in bulk allows you to refill and reuse smaller bottles. You can see all our bulk household products here and our toiletries here.
  9. Think of alternatives to plastic: can you make your own cotton baby wipes? Use cotton wool balls instead of plastic-handled cotton buds? Buy a reusable steel or glass straw? Use a fabric pouch for sandwiches, or a paper bag, or a lunchbox, rather than plastic food bags or clingfilm? Fill a reusable flask with water, rather than buying water in plastic bottles? Buy loose fruit and veg, rather than pre-packaged?
  10. Recycle wherever possible. Currently, just 9% of plastic is being recycled in the UK, according to Greenpeace. It might be easier to stick a plastic container straight in the bin, rather than washing it and sorting it out – but do it! Set up a recycling box in your kitchen to make the process more straightforward. Stick a note on your bin so that kids and visitors understand your waste management system. If you think it might help, put up a picture of the plastic problem in the ocean, too – to keep you on your toes.

And remember the useful mantra for coping with plastic: reduce, reuse, recycle – in that order!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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