Across the globe, we’re producing an alarming amount of plastic every single year, most of which cannot be recycled. Single-use plastic is literally suffocating our planet- spilling over in our landfills and polluting our oceans. This plastic is destroying habitats and risking the future of sea turtles, whales, seabirds, fish, coral reefs and so many other marine species. Recent reports have heartbreakingly revelled that almost every single baby sea turtle now has plastic in their stomachs, and more than half of all seabirds on earth have eaten plastic in their lifetimes (source). In fact, according to the Ocean Blue Project, there is now an estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean.
Let that sink in. 15-51 TRILLION pieces of plastic.
So what’s the solution? Here are five easy ways to rescue our oceans and reduce ocean waste today.
Say NO to single-use plastic
Single-use plastic is bad news, and we’ve known about it for a long time. Yet the convenience, not to mention the lower price, is attractive. And we get it, truly we do. But if we want to reduce ocean waste and pollution, we have to let it go. We have to opt for reusable products, and we have to do it now.
Take disposable pads and tampons, for example. Just one pair of WUKA period pants will save up to 200 plastic-riddled pads and tampons from entering landfill or being flushed down the loo to end up in our oceans and waterways.
There are currently 200,000 tonnes of single use menstrual products being thrown away every single year. Imagine if we all took a stand, and we all said no more. And if you agree, please sign our petition asking the government to remove VAT on period pants!
Do more than just recycle
We might think we’re doing the right thing when we put out our recycling bins each week, but are we really? According to Greenpeace, only less than 10% of our plastic actually gets recycled. That’s despite most of us taking the time to sort and organise our recycling religiously. Yep- most of it actually ends up being incinerated, not recycled according to this report.
Greenpeace also reports that a lot of what we think is being recycled might actually be sent abroad to countries with extremely low recycling rates. Its claimed that the UK sends the equivalent of 3.5 Olympic sized swimming pools every single day- and we do not know what happens to it once it gets there.
So should we stop recycling? No. Circling back to our first point, we should stop buying single-use plastic. If less than 10% of what we put in the plastic recycling bin is actually recycled, then everything else we put in there is adding to the problem, even if we think we’ve done the right thing. If we had less single use plastic, we’d have less of an issue. Period.
Take part in a beach clean
Hate ocean waste? Do something about it. Next time you go to the beach, take an empty bag with you and spend a few minutes picking up litter. You might be surprised (and appalled) at how much you collect.
The 2 Minute Foundation are a charity that works hard to not only clean our beaches, but to educate on why its so important too. They encourage beach goers to spend just two minutes picking up litter and they even provide pickers and bags to help you do it too. You can find the location of your nearest #2MinuteBeachClean board here.
Support brands who advocate for plastic free
Did you know that some disposable pads and tampons contain up to 90% plastic? Menstrual waste is among the top five pieces of rubbish found discarded on UK beaches right now- and that seriously needs to change! Here at WUKA we don’t use plastic in our products or our packaging, and when you’re finished with our reusable pants, you can recycle them, or return them to the earth with a clear conscience.
And there are LOADS of other eco friendly brands who do not use single-use plastic either, and who actively encourage plastic-free living. Make it your business to know these businesses. Support them. Share them. Encourage friends and families to do the same. If we all sing from the same hymn sheet, we have a much stronger chance of making change happen.
Say NO to products containing micro plastics
Recent data collection carried out by GB Row Challenge found that there is currently 100 times more micro plastics around our coastlines than six years ago, when data was last collected. But what exactly are micro plastics, and how can we avoid them?
First coined by Richard Thompson OBE FRS, Professor of Marine Biology in 2004, micro plastics refers to very small particles of plastic debris (less than 5mm diameter). Micro plastics occur due to larger plastic pieces breaking down, microfibres being shed from textiles, tyre abrasions and spillage of tiny particles. Micro plastics can also refer to tiny particles that are manufactured for use in cosmetics, and are sometimes also called microbeads.
In 2018, the UK government banned the manufacture of products containing microbeads, which is fantastic and an excellent step in the right direction. But there’s more to do, as the ban does not cover cleaning products or ‘leave on’ lotions, sun creams and makeup which could still contain microbeads. So do your research and avoid ingredients such as polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene, polymethylmethacrylate and nylon.
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