Tuesday 5th June marks World Environment Day. This day was developed by the United Nations with the goal of raising awareness of major threats to the environment and encouraging us to take action to save the planet, one step at a time.
“Beat plastic pollution” is this years’ theme, since this is arguably one of the greatest threats to the environment in our time. Whilst plastic has many valuable uses, we have become overly dependent on disposable and single-use plastic, and the repercussions of this could prove disastrous. Here are some quick facts on the extent of the problem:
- 500 billion disposable plastic bags are used every year
- 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute
- 50% of consumer plastics are single use
- It takes 100 years for plastic to degrade in the environment
- 13 million tonnes of plastic makes it way to the ocean each year
- 83% of tap water was found to contain plastic particles
This is just a short snapshot of the excessive nature of plastic consumption throughout the world. World Environment Day summons us all to reflect on how we can make small changes in our day-to-day lives to lessen the damage that plastic pollution is causing to our environments, wildlife and our own health. Whilst governments and manufacturers ultimately hold responsibility for reducing the amount of plastic we are producing and consuming, we can all do our bit to help the problem. We’ve compiled a list of small changes we can implement into our everyday lives to help make a big difference:
1. Rake your bins and recycle!
It might be useful to examine your rubbish bin weekly, and see what sort of items you are going through the most. There might be a way of substituting your most-used items for a non-plastic alternative, such as swapping plastic milk cartons for glass bottles which can be easier recycled. You can also save plastic by embracing this nice summer weather and creating a food compost heap outside. This’ll allow biodegradable products to be disposed of in an eco-friendly way as opposed to being thrown in a plastic bag and taken to a landfill site, thus reducing your carbon footprint too! It’ll enrich your garden’s soil which will help to maintain moisture and reduce plant diseases and pests. Winning!
2. Choose loose fruit and veg
Supermarkets often use an excessive amount of plastic packaging on food items, which once home is often disposed of quickly, despite the fact it’ll take years and years to degrade. One way to avoid this is to choose loose fruit and vegetables. As well as helping the environment, you are able to pick exactly how much product you need which in turn could save you money and reduce wastage. One avocado or two?
3. Swap disposable for re-usable
Single-use plastic is a major offender when it comes to trying to reduce the amount used, with many items manufactured for instant use with little to no concern of the long-lasting impact it’s having on the environment. Whilst the UK is starting to pay attention to this, with plans to ban single-use plastic straws, there are still so many little changes we can make to help combat this and ensure we are keeping the planet in tip-top shape. Instead of using plastic cling film to cover your leftovers, why not pop them in a bowl and cover with a plate, or alternatively invest in beeswax food coverings? Can’t go without your morning coffee fix at the local café? Why not invest in a re-usable cup? 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the UK each year and so by opting to take your own, you’re reducing your carbon footprint and might even save yourself some money – some high street chains give you a discount if you bring your own cup! As mentioned above, we go through a huge amount of plastic water bottles – pack your own so that you can re-fill it on the go. You’ll reduce plastic usage AND save money. Who needs over-priced water infused with vitamins, citrus fruits and the tears of Egyptian goddesses anyway?
4. Bring your own bags
The UK government has recognised that disposable plastic shopping bags are doing the environment no favours by introducing 5p bag charges in supermarkets and shops. Rather than fork out 5p for a bag, why not bring your own re-usable one and save yourself the 5p? You can save them up, and maybe in 6 weeks’ time you’ll be able to afford a Freddo!
5. Pick it up!
There’s not much better than a long stroll along the beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon. However, increasingly, our beaches are becoming littered with tonnes of plastic waste which is polluting our oceans and harming the marine wildlife. It may seem like such a small act, but stopping and picking up bits of plastic to dispose can contribute to making big gains when it comes to reducing plastic pollution.
Making these small changes to our everyday lives is a great way to ensure we are doing our bit to help protect our planet. It is brilliant that World Environment Day 2018 is raising awareness of the impact of excessive plastic consumption, but it’s important to remember that there are so many other things we can do to help out the environment, and save ourselves energy AND money in the process. For some top tips on energy efficiency within the home, check out our website: https://sparkenergy.co.uk/tips