Our oceans are under assault from our constant and unbridled plastic pollution, and a report from the World Economic Forum says that “there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050.” The plastic discarded by humans and through human activity can end up in the stomachs of marine animals or entangle them, ultimately causing them to die distressing and untimely deaths. Every day approximately eight million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans.
According to the report, the use of plastics has gone up 20-fold over the last 50 years and if steps aren’t taken to dispose of these properly, then “plastics in the ocean will outweigh fish pound for pound in 2050.” While some countries like Australia and India, and even the European Parliament have banned or seek to ban single-use plastics, we as responsible consumers can do our bit to help cut down the pollution caused by our consumption patterns. Here are eleven ways to reduce your plastic impact:
1) Take Your Own Bag
Do not accept single-use plastic bags at the supermarket and other store checkouts. Carry your cloth or paper bags. Did you know that over 100,000 marine animals are killed annually by plastic bags?
2) Fill Your Own Bottles
Do not buy bottled drinking water. Carry your reusable bottles; most restaurants and cafes are happy to give you a free refill. The US alone accounts for over 60 million plastic water bottles a day, most of which end up in landfills and the oceans.
3) Use Your Own Coffee Cups
Resist the urge to get your cup of joe as a takeaway in a disposable cup. Carry your thermos or travel mugs and some chains will offer you a discount. Though made of paper, disposable cups are lined with plastic and most are not recyclable. The UK alone accounts for 2.5 billion cups annually, and less than one percent of them get recycled.
4) Swap Plastic Wrap For Reusable Wraps
Cling films are non-recyclable and end up in landfills and oceans. Switch to the many reusable and sustainable options that range from parchment paper, tissues, reusable organic cotton wraps, wraps made from leaves, plant resin and so on.
5) Use Stainless Steel Clothes’ Pegs
Switch to stainless steel clothes’ pegs. Unlike their plastic counterparts, these are durable and last longer and can be recycled. The plastic pegs break easily and can end up in the stomachs of marine life.
6) Use Reusable Food Pouches
Instead of grabbing those one-time-use food pouches for your leftovers, switch to reusable containers. Take it one step ahead and use your containers for takeaways too.
7) Switch to Stainless Steel or Bamboo Straws
The US alone uses over 500 million plastic straws daily and so many end up in the oceans. Some countries are banning the use of plastic straws, and you could help the planet by switching to and carrying your own stainless steel or bamboo straws.
8) Upgrade to Bamboo Toothbrushes
The US throws away about one billion toothbrushes every year! Not only can they injure ocean life, but they can also leach harmful chemicals into the water. You can now upgrade to the many eco-friendly options like bamboo toothbrushes, or petroleum-free silicone toothbrushes that require minimal replacement heads.
9) Use Your Own Bags To Shop For Produce
The same as the single-use plastic bags, the thin plastic covers used to bag produce is a major pollutant. The easier thing would be to carry your bags or even take your fridge bags to the supermarket.
10) Ditch Shampoos, Body Washes And Shower Gels With Microbeads
A lot of the shampoos and body washes come with microbeads, promising a cleaner scrub or wash. Microplastics are also leached from the washing of synthetic garments. The earlier estimate of five trillion pieces (5,000,000,000,000) of plastic in the oceans has been found to be a gross underestimation. These microplastics find their way into the food chain, ultimately poisoning all living beings. Ditch those and switch to organic shampoos, soap bars, and garments made from natural fibers.
11) Give Up Smoking
A new study has found that cigarette butts are among the greatest pollutants of the oceans. Quitting smoking is as good for the planet as it is for us.
12) Stop Eating Fish
The fishing industry is one of the ocean’s biggest polluters. An enormous area of floating rubbish in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of France is comprised of trillions of pieces of plastic. While tiny fragments of plastic are the most numerous within the area almost half of the weight is composed of discarded fishing nets.