June 8, 2019 8:07 am 2 Comments
One ocean – or five? The Ocean Project recognizes ‘one global ocean that connects us all’. Within that, there are ‘five distinct oceans: the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Southern Ocean’. All of them are vital to life on earth, generating most of the oxygen we breathe, regulating our climate, cleansing our water and offering us food and numerous medicines.
That certainly sounds like a good reason for a celebration! Today, on World Oceans Day, that’s just what happens. There are parties by the sea and numerous events to remind us of the importance of the ocean. Naturally Good Food is, as it happens, about as far from an ocean as it’s possible to be within the UK! Nevertheless, we’ll be joining in with pleasure. We rely on the ocean, right here in land-locked central England, just as much as everyone else – and we’re keen to do our bit to protect it too.
Protect and restore
The theme of World Oceans Day 2019 is ‘together we can protect and restore our oceans’. It’s all about conservation, renewal and human impact – but it’s also about a spirit of optimism. Humans have clearly caused great damage to the oceans, but we also have the capacity to put things right.
Plastic in the oceans
Back in the spring of 2018, David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series inspired many people to reduce their use of plastics. The programme showed how serious the issue of plastic waste in the oceans had become, with its devastating effects on wildlife. It marked a sea-change (no pun intended) in our attitudes towards plastic and has proved an enduring concern. The world might continue to turn, and politics and domestic concerns continue to fill the front pages of the newspapers, but people are still thinking, worrying and asking about plastic use.
Perhaps that’s because some of the images shown in the media have been so horrifying. We’ve seen remote islands with a fringe of plastic around their edges; whole floating ‘islands’ made from plastic waste in the oceans; plastic particles found deep in the Amazon rainforest, in the most remote reaches of the Amazon river; microbeads flushed down our drains, poisoning wildlife; and birds and animals with their stomachs stuffed full of plastic – or strangled by plastic around their necks.
Perhaps it’s stuck in our minds too because it’s an issue that we can all do something about. Cutting down on plastic use – and being very careful in our disposal of it – is within everyone’s reach. Last year we published a blog, Sharon’s plastic-free story: not just a drop in the ocean, noting one family’s journey towards a more plastic-free lifestyle. It has some good ideas and inspiration!
What’s Naturally Good Food doing?
We know our customers want to reduce plastic use – and so do we. We’ve made it our mission throughout 2018 and 2019 to find non-plastic alternatives for all the packaging we use within our business. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re well on the way. We’ve got rid of plastic bags and non-biodegradable loosefill. We’re trialling biodegradable clingfilm, bubblewrap and masking tape and have found paper-based tapes for our smaller packages. You can see our current Packaging and plastics policy here.
Our blogs: Buy in bulk to cut down on plastic and Cutting down on plastic: hard soap, bulk soap and refills give some good ideas for our customers too. It’s also worth re-reading our blog How does all the plastic get into the oceans? to remind us of quite how the problem arises.
What can you do?
As well as shopping at NGF, what can individual consumers do? Here are some of the specific ideas we set out last year.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
Above all, remember the useful mantra for coping with plastic: reduce, reuse, recycle – in that order. And, of course, take part in a World Oceans Day event – or start your own! We’ll be with you in spirit!Blue Planet, Bulk, cotton wool balls, David Attenborough, environmentally friendly, Greenpeace, household cleaners, packaging and plastics policy, paper sandwich bags, planet-friendly, plastic, The Ocean Project, toiletries, World Oceans Day
This post was written by Yzanne