Journal 2 | Tackling the Big 4 Single Use Plastic Culprits
September 20, 2019
At Hemming & Wills, it’s our mission to do our bit and help everyone to do their bit to reduce single use plastic waste.
Since David Attenborough showed us the horrific impact plastic, and particularly single use plastic, is having on our oceans, the ‘Blue Planet Effect’ has really taken hold in the UK and rightly so.
Whilst we’re making great strides in terms of reducing single user carrier bags (there’s been a 90% reduction since the charge was brought in for them), we all need to do much, much more right now.
Every year we pump 8 million tonnes of plastic into the seas, of which 236,000 are microplastics smaller than your finger nail
This is set to increase 10 fold by next year alone
By 2025 we will be putting enough plastic in the ocean (on the most conservative estimates) to cover 5% of the earth’s entire surface in cling film each year
By 2050, if things continue as they are, there will more plastic by weight in the seas than fish!
In the UK alone, we send 6 billion single use plastic water bottles to landfill sites very year – that’s right they don’t always get recycled like you might think they do!
We also send 2.5 billion coffee cups, which typically have a plastic liner, to landfill every year – it’s 100 billion globally!
Plastic bottles take 450 years to break down, plastic bags even longer and polystyrene/styrofroam is unlikely to break down at all!
The effect is huge – marine life, our food supply and our water supplies are all contaminated. We are therefore contaminated by microplastics and plastic related chemicals such as BPA. The net effect is a wide range of potential health problems from cancer to infertility.
To help us all take a stand, we’re tackling the big 4 single use plastic polluters:
Single use plastic water bottles
Single use plastic lunch boxes/food containers
Single use plastic straws
Single use paper and plastic (on the inside) coffee and tea cups
Our approach is simple, we’re offering a range of ethically made, sustainable and reusable water bottles, lunch boxes/food containers, straws and coffee/tea cups as part of our plastic free and reusable homewares range – which is all packaged using recycled or recyclable materials such as paper tape in place of plastic tape.
By switching to reusable, non-single use alternatives you can make huge difference immediately. Taking water bottles alone, by switching to a reusable, stainless steel water bottle this cuts out approximately 150-175 single use plastic bottles per personal annually.
Looking at plastic straws, it’s estimated we use around 5bn a year in England alone. Switching to stainless steel, re-usable straws would have a huge impact.
Here’s also a few handy pointers to help with your plastic free journey:
Don’t just ditch existing plastics you’re using frequently (i.e. they’re not single use). Replace these when they’ve reached the end of their life
Take reusable water bottles with you wherever you go and re-fill at work, at public water points and try to ask cafes, restaurants and service stations for a re-fill too!
Refuse any single use plastic wherever you can such as at supermarkets (say no to plastic bags and take your own) or at coffee shops (use a reusable glass or bamboo coffee/tea cup)
Ditch the cling-film at home and switch to re-usable beeswax wraps.
Ditch the plastic food/freezer bags at home and switch to paper bags (go old skool!).
Reuse and recycle whenever possible – if you get takeaways, don’t just ditch the plastic containers reuse them for storing food at home and always recycle once they’ve reached the end of their life, where this is possible (check with your local council)
We practice what we preach at H&W. At home and day to day we’ve made all of these changes and are always looking to do better! If we all take small steps, the overall impact will be huge.
Here’s some other resources if you’re interested in reading further – now let’s all get to work!