It took one man, David Attenborough, to raise awareness of our use and overuse of plastics in Blue Planet II. The final episode of the 2017 series is now widely regarded as the moment that truly started the war on plastics in the UK, with 88% of people who watched the episode admitting to changing their behaviour as a consequence. Over the coming months, we will be looking at ways on how we can reduce our plastic usage by changing day to day habits.
Though many of us now use reuseable straws, water bottles and coffee cups as a reaction to Blue Planet II and the campaigns that followed it, it looks like The War on Plastic (another BBC show, fronted by Anita Rani and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) will go even further and actually make us all question whether our continued use of plastics is viable at current levels, thanks to scenes such as the 20-foot high ‘mountains’ of plastic in Malaysia that had clearly been sent there from the UK.
However, it’s very unlikely that plastic use will disappear entirely there’s still a lot we can all do to reduce, reuse and effectively recycle – and as parents, we not only owe it to our children to try to help save the planet we can also shape the way they treat the world’s most precious resources for years to come…
Single-use plastics (disposable plastics) are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled should be the first thing that you tackle. Simple changes like avoiding plastic cutlery or straws can make a difference if we all follow suit. You could carry your own for yourself and your little ones (metal camping cutlery sets are particularly handy for this), but you can also ask for plastic-free alternatives if you’re in a cafe, pub or takeaway.
Avoid plastic bags. Currently, some 500 billion single-use plastic bags are used every year by shoppers, but – whilst we’re now used to taking our own reusable carrier bags into supermarkets after the government applied a levy on carrier bags (the current rate of 5p could be doubled in January 2020 if new proposals come into effect) – much of the food that we buy is unnecessarily wrapped in plastic; in fact, most supermarkets are guilty of wrapping fruit and veg in unnecessary plastic packaging whilst also offering the very same product loose. Alternatively (though less convenient), farmer’s markets and local grocery stores tend to sell all of all their products unpackaged. It’s a great way to avoid packaging whilst also supporting local produce and the high street – just remember to take enough reusable bags with you when you shop!
Whilst in supermarkets, also be mindful of plastic wrappings and containers for bread and frozen goods. Also, look out for glass bottles for liquids over plastic. Glass is easily recyclable as long as you remember to put it in the recycling bin!