How many of us pay little attention to the items we purchase regularly, simply going for the same brand time after time, or reaching for the best monetary value item?
I have been reading the eye-opening Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (and you) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle, a full review of which I’m working on. For the purposes of this post it’s enough to understand that plastic pollution in our oceans isn’t just about a lack of recycling and an excess of littering but also about the huge reliance we have on plastic for everything in out everyday lives. Simply the act of manufacturing plastic is detrimental to our planet, so we need to do all we can to minimise use.
According to the charity Surfers Against Sewage there are 5000 items of marine plastic pollution per mile of UK beach. Please do take a look at their website for more information.
Reducing plastic usage isn’t easy though as life in the developed world revolves around convenience and packaging. Food items, cleaning products, toiletries… the list would be endless, but we can individually make a small difference and hope that all our small differences add up to be enough.
My family probably has a lower plastic usage than many UK households but I easily identified steps that we can take to reduce it further.
- our older son has been purchasing meal deals for his college lunch, generally consisting of a pasta salad, drink and crisps. This week he’s been making his own lunch and I insisted that he buy drink cans instead of bottles.
Plastic reduction: salad containers, drinks bottles.
- our younger son is on school holidays this week but has to attend revision sessions and take a packed lunch. Normally I would buy him a meal deal too but he is also making his own lunch.
- grocery shopping i) peanut butter – we specifically chose one that’s in a glass jar. ii) squash/cordial – this was a little more tricky as there are very few that aren’t in plastic bottles and those that are carry a big price tag. However, I was willing to pay the extra for a better quality item and the glass bottle. My squash cost £5 for two bottles instead of less than £2. iii) laundry and dish washing liquids – instead of choosing supermarket own brand/cheaper items, we selected ones that are better for the environment (ecover) and which have recycled plastic packaging.
Small steps to start with, but I’m pleased that we can make a difference.
Lucy Siegle is a journalist, author and presenter who specialises in ecological and ethical lifestyle matters.
Surfers Against Sewage is a national marine conservation and campaigning charity that inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife.