How to quit plastic: 6 simple switches you can make today

Here’s how to unleash your plastic power [Photo: mali maeder via Pexels]
Here’s how to unleash your plastic power [Photo: mali maeder via Pexels]

We all know that plastic = bad. But do we realise how bad?

New warnings have been issued today that plastic contamination could soon be “catastrophic” for human health.

It gets worse. If we don’t get our act together when it comes to the plastic stuff it could signal the end of the human race.

Seawater samples collected throughout a 45,000 mile journey on the Volvo Ocean race round-the-world sailing event have revealed traces of microplastics almost everywhere, including in the remotest waters in the Southern Ocean.

And experts aren’t impressed. Speaking about the findings Dr Luiza Mirpuri, the organisation’s medical adviser, said: “It will be catastrophic, not now but in the third generation because each time we have diseases, new diseases from new contaminants.

“We are having more cancer, more allergic diseases, more infertility. We are less fertile than our grandfathers.”

Dr Mirpuri went on to warn that plastic is slowly “killing the human race”.

We already know that plastic is having a devastating affect on the world’s wildlife, thanks to an emotional episode of Blue Planet 2 revealing the tragic story of the pilot whale mother and calf, who most likely died as a result of toxins in her mother’s milk.

It’s clear more needs to be done, but where do we start?

Here’s six simple ways you can work your plastic power.

Swap disposable for reusable/biodegradable

In a bid to protect rivers and oceans from the growing problem of plastic pollution, plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds could soon be banned from sale in England under a Government plan.

In the mean time, do your bit by swapping disposable plastic household products for reusable or biodegradable versions.

Bamboo toothbrushes, compostable bin bags, plastic free cotton buds, reusable straws and reusable coffee cups can all easily be found from shops such as Ethical Superstore.

Make smart sartorial choices

When it comes to fashion, there are plenty of initiatives that are doing their bit for the anti-plastic fight. Sustainable fashion powerhouse Stella McCartney, has joined forces with ocean advocacy organisation Parley for the Oceans, and sportswear brand Adidas to create a super stylish pair of plastic trainers. The yarn used in the each pair is made from recycled bottles from the ocean.

And Fearne Cotton is a fan.

“Just bought myself some @adidas Parleys as I was so happy to read online about their incredible initiative! Shoes made from plastic collected from the ocean. Genius! Save the oceans!,” she wrote in a recent Instagram post showing off her shiny new treads.

Check out The 4Ocean Bracelet, initiative too. Every purchase of their cute bracelets—made from recycled glass and plastic bottles—funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean.

Go glitter free (sort of)

Festival season is almost upon us and obvs that is going to = glitter.

But while, there’s no doubt, it’s the sparkly stuff is super pretty, glitter is actually helping to destroy the planet.

Glitter is made up of tiny pieces of plastic which, like recently-banned micro beads, clogs up the ocean and has a devastating effect on marine life.

The glitter situation is getting so serious and having such an impact on marine wildlife that scientists have now called for a blanket ban on the substance.

And festival organisers are doing their bit too 61 festivals committing to banning single-use plastic from their sites by 2021, including glitter.

The Drastic on Plastic initiative, which is led by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), will see plastic straws, plastic food trays, plastic drinks bottles and more outlawed on participating festival sites.

So do we have to kiss goodbye to the glitter forever?

Not necessarily. Biodegradable glitter made from plant-based materials are becoming increasingly available including brands such as Ecoglitterfun, Ecostardust and Glitterlution, so you can still plaster yourself in the sparkly stuff, should you so desire.

Check your labels

Predominantly found in everything from make-up must-haves to toothpastes, microbeads have been proven to sweep eight million tons of plastic into the sea per year. While a single shower can result in 100,000 pieces of plastic floating into the ocean.

And heavy usage has understandably had a devastating impact on the environment. As a consequence to the minute size of microbeads, they have trickled into the food chain and poisoned fish and other marine animals.

A ban on microbeads has officially come into force in the UK meaning that manufacturers will no longer be allowed to use the harmful plastic when creating rinse-off products.

And later in the year, plans are in place to banish the selling of beauty products containing microbeads altogether.

Until then, be sure to check labels for microbeads. You can find a full microbead guide here.

Also, consider purchasing products free of plastic packaging. Lush have a range of items that are available without the polluting plastic packaging.

Paper bags are way better than plastic! [Photo: Porapak Apichodilok via Pexels]
Paper bags are way better than plastic! [Photo: Porapak Apichodilok via Pexels]

Switch up your bagging

We may have groaned when the 5p plastic bag law arrived in the UK, but it seems to be working. Recent research suggests the number of plastic bags found on the seabed has plummeted since the new ruling came in. Keep up the good work by refusing plastic shopping bags and investing in reusable bags instead.

Morrisons are staying ahead of the plastic curve by announcing they’re soon to sell their fresh produce in old-style paper bags, rather than plastic ones, in a bid to cut the use of plastics.

The supermarket chain, the UK’s fourth largest, says it will mean 150 million fewer plastic bags are used each year. Nice one Morrisons!

Ditch clingfilm

Sure we’re used to wrapping leftovers in clingfilm, but being made from plastic, it’s high time we broke the habit.

Try using baking parchment or cloth instead. Or check out BeeBee Wraps which use waxed paper, jojoba oil and tree resin to cover food leftovers. All of the ingredients used are natural and non-toxic, plus using organic cotton means they are washable in cool water and fully biodegrade.

Plus, they’re available in an array of cool colours and designs.

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