Have we now discovered the true horror and devastation plastic has caused towards our once idyllic environments? Since its creation in 1907, plastic became so commercially successful and cheap to produce. So much so that it quickly established itself as a ubiquitous product that can be used to create everyday household solutions and provide functional thermal and electrical insulation properties. However, the popularity of this seemingly useful material has backfired big time with polluting chemicals left in the environment for hundreds of years, unable to biodegrade.
Our obsession with plastic has gone too far. It is saddening that with years of alarm bells ringing to signify the pollution and toxins damaging our countryside and marine environments, the horror has only just surfaced as a serious issue in light of David Attenborough’s rallying words on the subject showcased alongside disturbing footage in Blue Planet II. The Marine Conservation Society have been levying the UK government to take action on plastic for years after discovering that plastic consumption had increased by over 180% since 1994 with more than eight million tonnes of plastic entering oceans every year.
For a country that is supposed to be putting environmental concerns towards the top of the national agenda, we are currently reacting at a snail’s pace. In the UK, we only introduced the singe-use plastic bag charge from 2015, France banned them outright in July of 2016. Another step ahead, France was also the first country in the world to make the bold move of banning disposable cups, plates, and cutlery with a law that will come into effect in 2020.
We need to work together more than ever to sign petitions, share content, and wise up about the problems plastic is causing. If we don’t change our plastic consumption habits, experts believe that by 2050 the amount of plastic in the ocean will exceed the amount of fish in the ocean.
For now, there are plenty of easy ways to reduce your own personal plastic consumption that don’t even take much thought. Be alert and make the change!
REFUSE THE STRAW.
We only use straws for a matter of minutes, so our unnecessary plastic consumption here sucks. Say no when you are offered a straw! Student favourite chains such as Wetherspoons and Wagamama have recently committed to ditching the plastic straws.
AVOID FOOD WITH EXCESSIVE PACKAGING.
We know that this isn’t a consumer fault. However, when buying certain selections of food such as fruit and vegetables, choosing loose items without the plastic packaging is perfectly possible. Or bring your own containers and bags. The same can be done when buying meat at a local butchers or grocery store.
STOP USING DISPOSABLE CUTLERY.
Consider bringing your own fork or spoon for your lunch. In places where disposable cutlery is handed out to customers, always suggest the idea of biodegradable disposable cutlery options.
CARRY YOUR OWN REUSABLE BAGS.
This isn’t a ground-breaking idea and thankfully since the single-use plastic carrier bag charge between the 7 main retailers, over 83% less have been used in 2016 – 2017 compared to 2014.
RESUABLE WATER BOTTLE.
Reduce your disposable plastic bottle consumption by bringing your own reusable water bottle. On campus there are plenty of water refill fountains, especially in Templeman Library.