STOP THE PLASTIC TIDE
Finally, I found the time to read my copy of the MCSUK winter 2017 edition magazine and it leaves me feeling inspired to do more to raise awareness concerning the issues surrounding litter and plastic pollution of our seas.
Alongside colourful photography and stories of sea life, the Marine Conservation Society have included the results from their Great British Beach Clean 2017. Plastic and Polystyrene pieces were the top most found items. In second place, packets such as crisps and sandwich packets. The list goes on to include Glass, Cigarette Stubs, Caps & Lids, String, Cord, Wet Wipes, Cotton Bud Sticks, Fishing Line, Cutlery, Trays & Straws.
The way in which we humans consume is clearly showing up in our oceans and on our shores. Grabbing items on the go, purchasing cheap and more frequently all equates to a disposable lifestyle which creates excessive waste and pollution. Single use items are often used and disposed of within minutes and even seconds without thought as to what happens next. We need to re-look at the way we live and we need to start valuing and caring for our possessions whilst giving consideration to the impact of our overall consumption.
The Marine Conservation Society are campaigning to make change come about and there are things that we can all do to help. Thinking about how our daily actions affect our seas and beaches is a good place to start. Living without plastic straws, using a reusable cup/bottle and remembering to take our reusable shopping bags with us are things everyone can do most of the time, if not all of the time.
However, for my own family who already do the above, I see problems in other areas that are not so easily swapped and it must be the same for millions of other families too. Purchasing affordable fruit and vegetables regularly without plastic free packaging is hard. Cucumbers for example are rarely found without a plastic wrap yet its so unnecessary. Often plastic wrapped fruit and vegetables are cheaper than the unpackaged options which is wrong. Likewise, a multi-pack of 4 tins of beans for example, will cost less than if you purchase 4 single tins. The only difference is the plastic packaging holding the multipack together. We do not want or need this extra packaging.
Everyday food basics are mostly packaged in plastic in some fashion and even if a zero waste shop exists nearby, those options are often limited and not always affordable. Remember, not everyone is coming from an equal platform and finances can be very tight with budgets that are simply not flexible enough to make all the changes even if they want to.
Bread for example, a staple food for many is wrapped in plastic. Not everyone has the time to bake their own all of the time and small bakeries are not always available either.
The problem of packaging waste, in my view, needs to be tackled at source and not simply handed over to the responsibility of the everyday consumer. We NEED companies, brands and supermarkets to make it easier for people to make better choices and minimise our negative impact on the planet. Aside of the obvious fruit and veg that can well do without extra plastic packaging, I’m sure we could live without plastic windows on cardboard packaging? I'm sure supermarkets could provide paper bags rather than plastic bags for loose items such as mushrooms. Better still, support customers bringing reusable containers perhaps? And, what of toilet rolls? Surely these could return to outer paper packaging? There are some brands out there doing just that but we need to see more of these readily available in our supermarkets if those are the places where the majority of people are shopping right now.
In my opinion, looking at root causes needs some re-address too. It will soon be Summer again and the amount of litter that gets left behind on beaches, common grassy picnic areas or discarded on road sides never ceases to disappoint. It is not ok to simply dump your litter and this message needs to be reinforced more strongly too.
In the meantime, the Marine Conservation have a petition to the Governments of England, Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland and an open letter to the UK's big fast food chains, pubs and restaurants to help battled this growing problem.
For more Information about the Marine Conservation Society go to: