Earth day 2018

April 22nd is Earth day across the globe. A movement that campaigns for our environment and aims to bring more awareness to climate concerns.

Each year the Earth Network delve into a different theme for their campaigns and 2018 is all about plastic pollution.

We are now using more plastic than ever and it is estimated that around 8.9 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced to date. Of which only 9% has been recycled and 12% has been incinerated. Leaving 79% which has been dumped into landfill sites and the natural environment across the globe. (According to a BBC article)

In the UK there have already been small steps to try and tackle this issue: (charges on plastic bags in shops and a ban on microbeads in cosmetic products). But these are minor changes in the massive issue of our plastic problem.

So why is plastic so damaging?

Plastic does not degrade, it will eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces but this can be incredibly harmful to wildlife. Particularly the ocean life who can get trapped in bits of plastic or can consume it. These are called microplastics and can make their way into the food that we eat as well through water, salt and seafood.

Maybe you have also heard of the chemical BPA which is found in many plastics. It can be very harmful to humans particularly if heated in a microwave as it leaks out into the food it contains. So be mindful that the food packaging you use doesn't contain this substance, it will often say BPA free on the bottom.

Plastic production accounts for about 8% of global oil production which is incredibly detrimental to the environment as the process releases harmful gases into the atmosphere. So the more plastic we use the more oil needs to be sourced.

But what can I do to help?

There are lots of small changes that everyone can try and do to combat this massive plastic problem. I've listed a few here that are hopefully manageable for most people but this list is certainly not exhausted!

  • Invest in a re usable coffee cup. A lot of coffee shops now offer discount on drinks if you bring your own mug so even more incentive!

  • Invest in a re usable water canister and drink tap water!

  • Get organised and prepare your lunch in advance to take to work. Eating on the go from supermarkets often involves a lot of unnecessary packaging that can be avoided.

  • Say no to straws!

  • Buy loose veg from the supermarket/local farmers market where possible. Fresh veg/fruit is often wrapped in mountains of unnecessary plastic.

  • Drink loose leaf tea or go for tea bags that don't use plastic in production. (Tea pigs are a great option)

  • Carry or keep in the car some re usable shopping bags, preferably canvas/cotton ones.

  • Switch to using a face cloth and make up remover to wash your face instead of face wipes.

  • Try to avoid clothing containing plastics such as pvc, lycra, nylon and polyester and opt for natural fibers instead. This will help to stop as many microfibers being released into the drains when you wash your clothes.

  • Pick up rubbish when you see it lying around, especially if it's in any streams, rivers or on the beach.

The more people that decide to take action and make changes then the closer we will be to taking control of this global situation!

You can visit the Earth day website for loads more info on how to get involved in the campaign and learn more about the effects that plastic production is having on the planet.

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