Be warned: this isn’t just a coastal problem. A recent study has shown that in the River Thames 32% of fish had microplastics – tiny pieces of plastic less than five millimetres long – in their gut. This affects entire ecosystems and food chains. In fact, you may be eating microplastics without even realising it. Apparently, microplastics can be found in canned fish, mussels, sea salt, and much more.
The bastards even managed to get into our tap water.
So, here are 5 hacks for saving the planet (and ourselves):
1. Switch to reusables
Instead of continually buying plastic water bottles and then endlessly searching for bins, why not switch to a reusable water bottle? (And most businesses will be happy to refill this free of charge). Check out these cool ones with a water filter.
If you love coffee as much as I do, then you’re probably drinking way too much of it. Which means that you’re contributing to the fact that up to 2.5 billion non-reusable coffee cups are thrown away every year across the UK. Most shockingly of all, 99% of these cups cannot be recycled. That’s way worse than time you were outside London and asked for a flat white but were given filter instead.
Switching to a reusable coffee cup is very easy and there’s loads of choice! Check out the Independent’s list of the top 10 reusable coffee cups.
With the introduction of the 25p charge on disposable coffee cups bought by customers, you will literally be saving money by making the switch (as well as reducing the chance of anything you buy ending up in the sea – or on your plate!).
3. This is the final straw
How many of these end up in some turtle’s nose? This is probably the most easily avoidable plastic imposter on this list. Save yourself the burden of communicating disapproval in a passive aggressive way to that bartender who serves plastic straws – by not using them at all, or buying these bamboo ones instead.
It’s amazing how much throwaway plastic ends up in our weekly shop and intercepting our daily lives. Cotton buds, tea bags, toothbrushes, the list goes on. Why not switch to bamboo toothbrushes to maintain consistency with the straws? Or use these organic cotton buds to tickle your brain through your ear canal (if you’re into that kind of thing). You’re no mug. We know that you know loose tea tastes way better than that tea bag garbage. Top tip: get a tea press (top top tip: it works for coffee too).
4. Your toilet is not your bin
So don’t treat it like one. Throwing things like wet-wipes, cigarette butts or anything else that is not paper down the loo can end up swimming in our rivers and oceans. Which, obviously, is not good.
5. Make the government take action
It takes up to a thousand years for plastic to degrade, and yet we only use a non-reusable coffee cup, water bottle or plastic bag for about 12 minutes on average. It’s a disaster to our environment and deadly to wildlife.
Whilst taking small steps in your life to reduce the impact you have on plastic pollution is incredibly valuable, the most important solution to this disaster is for the government to take action.
Why not start tackling plastic pollution by signing this petition from Friends of the Earth to stop plastic choking our oceans, killing marine life and infecting our food chains.
Featured image credit: Plastic washed ashore in San Francisco. Credit: Kevin Krejci