Plastic ain't so Fantastic
We don’t like the idea that our lifestyles are ruining the planet. As a race, we human beings have tended to ignore the way our cars contaminate the air our children breathe; we haven’t wanted to know how sustainable our source of heating is and actually quite like the log burner. Besides, the car is a necessity, as are toasty toes.
But there comes a time when a problem is so vast and so visible and so utterly decadent that it can no longer be ignored
For the past 70 years we have been ramping up our use of plastic. Plastic is cheap, plastic is versatile. It is convenient and it is everywhere.
We use 500 billion plastic bags worldwide every year for an average of only 15 minutes a piece. We produce 20,000 plastic bottles a second. We use it, and then we bin it. Americans currently throw away a pound of plastic a day – and we Europeans are catching up.
We don’t think we need to give it another thought once it’s hit the recycling bin. Job done! But fewer than half of the 480 billion plastic bottles produced in 2016 were collected for recycling and a lousy seven per cent were turned in to new bottles. So eight million tonnes of it find its way into our oceans every year, where it floats. And chokes the life out of our sea.
In fact, by 2050 – and here’s an image to conjure with - there will be as much plastic as there are fish in the sea. We are facing a global plastic pollution crisis.
However, we plastic litterbugs may be changing our ways. Thanks to the efforts of the living legend that is David Attenborough. At the end of his last Blue Planet series, he showed us shocking images of the devastating effect our rampant use of plastic is having on marine life.
We saw albatrosses trying to feed their babies plastic. We saw dead turtles choked or strangled by plastic. We saw beaches heaped with detritus. The planet has become our rubbish dump, he scolded. The future of all life, he said, depends on us all.
But boy have we risen to the challenge. Our imaginations fired by the idea of the pacific garbage patch (three times the size of Spain), and the images of beloved sea creatures with stomachs packed with plastic, we are using less of it. The Queen knows the score: she has banned plastic cutlery and bottles from her palaces. One entire country – Scotland – is going to ban plastic straws, and the Prime Minister doing the same with straws and cotton buds, just in time for World Earth Day too.
Children, as ever, are in the vanguard of the attack, berating their adults for buying plastic cups or not refilling the reusable water bottle. They see, through fresh eyes, the horror of using something once that can take 450 years to biodegrade.
And so, slowly, habits are changing. We are getting milk delivered in bottles again, we take canvas bags with us when we go shopping. We wouldn’t dare to buy straws for a kiddie party and we are more aware than ever of what we chuck in the ‘recycling’ bin.
It might feel like a drop in the ocean but here has been good news, too, of a breakthrough in the re-use of plastic. Helpful bacteria has been found that could do the previously unthinkable and break down those trillions of plastic bottles. Nevertheless, as we consider the journey of a plastic bag from kitchen dustbin to dolphin stomach, we all should think more seriously about how fantastic our disposable lifestyles really are.
This Sunday (April 22nd) is Earth Day 2018 which is asking us all to “learn and act” to end pollution. We want to get you all talking about this, so we’ve teamed up with fellow sustainable brand Tootsa to give TWO bundles of eco-friendly prizes worth £200.00 to TWO LUCKY WINNERS.
To enter head over to our PLAE instagram