Ever since the Blue Planet II documentary hosted by Sir David Attenborough hit our screens, the impact of plastic on our oceans and wildlife has become impossible to ignore.
Who can forget the famous picture of a seahorse carrying a plastic earbud? Or the sad tale of a whale which died after swallowing 80 plastic bags?
While the news might seem pretty depressing at times, there are lots of positive schemes underway and communities coming together to change the way we live, eat and work.
Read on to learn about some great green initiatives and discover some easy ways to cut down on your plastic waste.
Go out ‘plogging’ (picking up plastic while jogging)
A Swedish exercise-meets-environmentalism trend, plogging is basically going out for a jog and and picking up any discarded plastic you see along the way.
A healthier you and a happier planet? We’re pulling our trainers on!
Take part in a 2 minute beach clean
It’s a pretty sobering statistic: 38 million plastic drinks bottles are thrown away in the UK every day. It’s even more sobering to hear that one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die every year because of marine litter.
#2minutebeachclean is an initiative that encourages people to do a micro clean-up whenever they visit the beach.
There’s an app you can download to record your beach cleans or head to their socials (@2minutebeachclean) to find out where the nearest beach clean station is. For more information, visit beachclean.net.
Bring your own containers
In the UK, Waitrose is trialling a new scheme which allows customers to fill their own containers when they shop. You’ll be able to reuse containers for everything from pasta to shower gel.
There are already container-free shops dotted around the country, such as Zero Green in Bristol and you can find a list of 88 zero waste shops here.
If you can, by fruit and veg from a local grocer in your area, as they normally use less packaging.
Don’t buy black plastic
At the moment, it’s still very difficult to avoid plastics entirely, but if you do need to buy something wrapped in plastic then choose ones that can be recycled.
While most clear plastics can be recycled, black plastic often ends up in landfill. This is because most recycling centres use Near Infra Red (NIR) technology to sort their plastics and these systems find it hard to recognise black plastic.
Read more related articles:
5 best products to cut down on plastic packaging
Try a reusable travel cup
If you’re a caffeine addict, swapping a disposable cup for a reusable one is a really simply way to reduce waste. Shockingly, 99.75% of coffee cups are not currently recycled in the UK and a study in 2011 revealed that we throw away 2.5bn coffee cups a year – a figure that’s likely to be much higher now.
Coffee shops are beginning to recognise that they need to play their part: Boston Tea Party has introduced a ban on disposable cups with reusable cups available to loan if you forget yours, while Pret a Manger is offering a 50p discount if you bring your own cup.
We like this cute travel mug depicting inspirational artist Frida Kahlo, which is bound to bring an element of fun to your coffee run!
Frida Kahlo travel mug, £15, Tate Shop. shop.tate.org.uk
Ditch plastic carrier bags
We all know that plastic bags cause a great deal of environmental damage, but we still manage to forget our bags for life once in a while! It’s estimated that up to a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, so it’s worth taking the time to pick up a bag when you leave the house.
Of course, if you have a nice tote it’s easier to remember to bring it with you – like this stylish zebra and palm tree bag from Fenella Smith.
Fenella Smith Zebra and Palm Tree Tote Bag, £16, www.hurnandhurn.com
Swap your sanitary products
It’s estimated that a woman can use up to 11,000 tampons in her life, which really adds up! You can work out how many sanitary products you’ve used in your lifetime with the Intimina menstrual waste calculator.
You can reduce the amount you throw away by using a reusable menstrual cup like a Feminesse Menstrual Cup (pictured above) or a Mooncup. Reusable sanitary pads are also available.
The Feminesse Menstrual Cup,£17.99, available at Tesco and online at feminesse.co.uk.
Stop using plastic takeaway boxes
When you order a takeaway, you often end up with unwanted plastic boxes after the meal. But you could try bringing along your own tiffin boxes instead – many restaurants will fill up your own containers on request, so it’s worth asking.
Tiffin boxes, from £32.99, www.indian-tiffin.com
Bring your own water bottle
Feeling thirsty? Don’t reach for a plastic water bottle! Instead, get yourself a good quality reusable bottle to bring with you when you’re out and about.
We like these ones from Chilly’s because they can keep your drinks warm for 12 hours or cold for 24 hours, so they’re handy for all seasons.
Bottles, £25, www.chillysbottles.com
Photo by Aleksandra Boguslawska, Bruno Nascimento and Szilard Toth on Unsplash