Fake plastic seas

8 March 2018

The catastrophic impact of plastic pollution on the environment is becoming more and more widely known. New evidence is literally piling up, revealing the true extent of the plastic problem. Things have got to change. From large plastic items entangling marine life to micro plastics being found in the deepest parts of the ocean, our seas are suffocating.

It’s not just the seas either, toxic chemicals from plastics in landfills drain out and seep through the soil into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers. The situation’s serious, but there is hope. Some of our amazing people here at Ecotricity have been sharing the steps they’ve taken to try and combat the plastic problem. Amy Hill let us know what she’s been doing.

By Amy Hill      

My name is Amy and I joined Ecotricity in January 2017 as a Forecasting Analyst within the Energy Trading Team.

My awareness of plastic’s detrimental impact on the environment has increased quite a lot recently following a feature on Blue Planet, wide-scale media coverage on plastics damaging the environment, and a political move away from single use plastics.

I’ve always tried to limit waste to landfill but now my focus is more specifically on plastics. It’s a bit of a mission, but some of the things I’ve been trying to do are:

  • Refill – Stroud Valley’s Eco Shop does refills for all sorts, such as fabric washing liquid and fabric conditioner, so I’ve been trying to refill existing plastic containers rather than buying new products
  • Buying packaging-free products – instead of buying shower gel, shampoo and body lotion in bottles, I’ve been buying soap, shampoo bars and solid body lotion from Lush. None of these products use any plastic packaging and they all smell great
  • Look at alternatives to plastic products – I’ve reviewed day-to-day products I use and I’m now replacing these with none plastic or recycled alternatives. This includes things like cotton buds, biodegradable tea bags, recycled bin bags and biodegradable glitter
  • Reducing my use of ‘fast food’ options – trying to cut down on pre-packaged quick meals and trying to cook from fresh, and freeze. Also, looking for takeaway options that use cardboard packaging instead of plastic Tupperware
  • Carry around re-useables – for regular use items, I carry a re-usable version such as a re-usable coffee cup, shopping bags and cutlery
  • Refuse plastic straws!

Waste in general has always been a big problem, particularly the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach. However, plastics are receiving increasing attention due to their impact on marine life. The problem has grown to such an extent recently that it’s fast becoming an environmental crisis, which some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.

Marine life and birds can easily be entangled in or injured by plastic waste. In fact, 100,000 marine creatures are found dead because of plastic each year. Even smaller micro plastics and micro beads (found in many cosmetics) can be mistaken for food and ingested by a number of animals leading to stunted growth, health problems or even death. To understand the scale of this, it’s thought that at least two thirds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion. This is clearly a large-scale issue, and we need to start making some drastic changes in order to tackle this.

My top tip for reducing plastic waste is to think about the alternatives. It may be that there’s a very simple way of reducing plastic waste by switching one product with another. This may well need little more cost or effort.

For more information about how you can reduce plastic in your life, check out Friends of the Earth and join them on their campaign #PlasticFreeFriday. Together, we can all make a lasting change, and to further protect the planet choose a green energy supplier too – switch today and join the people powering the green revolution!

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