“Good evening everyone, my name’s humanity and… ummm.... [gulp]... I have an addiction to single-use plastics.”
Yup. If there was such thing as PA (Polluters Anonymous) and humanity could be represented by a single person, we’re pretty sure that’s how he or she would kick off the meeting. We know this because somewhere between the chillaxed coast of Southern California and the paradisiacal islands of Hawaii, floating about in the perfectly azure waters of the Pacific Ocean, is an island of discarded plastic roughly twice the size of Texas which, in terms of elephants in the room, makes this one pretty bloody mahoossive.
But we can’t ignore it any longer. No way.
Single-use plastics have become the human addiction that none of us seems to be bothered about; an addiction that we need to face head-on; an addiction that is polluting our precious blue planet, poisoning our waters, wreaking havoc on our food chain and rolling the dice on our health in general.
It’s got well out of control - like a box of fireworks that’s fallen onto its side, the finale of rockets spiralling and sparking and fizzing in any which way they like. Except, instead of dodging fireworks, we’re staring into a world where 12.7 million tonnes of plastic is finding its way into our oceans each and every year. 12.7 million tonnes. That’s a truck-load of bottles, bags, microbeads and lost-Lego landing in our oceans every. single. minute, floating about on ocean currents and popping up in every pocket of the planet, from our Cornish coasts to those far-flung Pacific Islands. There are even pieces of discarded plastic being found frozen in the Arctic ice.
Of course, this is nothing new. You know plastic is bad for the planet and you know there is no Planet B. But how bad has it really got?
Well, in order to back up that little voice rattling away at the front of your mind, we’ve pulled together a list of facts to show just how sh*t plastic is for our planet.
“Man, that sucks. What can I do to play a part in protecting our oceans from plastic pollution?”
It’s the question that screams and throbs like a hammer-whacked thumb inside all of us. But one that has an answer. Lot’s of them, in fact. So, without further ado, here are some super-simple ways you can make a difference, pull on the metaphorical cape and start saving the planet one little tweak at a time.
1. Wave Ba-Bye To Plastic Bottles
We get why you pick up a bottle of water when you’re out and about. It’s healthier for you than tap water - that and you’re in the habit of bagging yourself a meal deal from whichever local supermarket is nearest your office. But the healthy-thing is a myth. There’s no scientific evidence whatsoever that says bottled water is better for your body than tap water. None. Nada. Zilch. In fact, the people at the World Health Organisation have issued an investigation into the potentially harmful flakes found in the majority of shop-bought water. Either way, one thing is for sure: these transparent vessels are terrible for the environment.
There’s the ludicrous amount of water it takes to make a bottle of water, the CO2 damage caused by transporting bottled water around the globe, and the fact plastic bottle caps can’t be recycled. But the solution is so simple. Grab yourself a filter-topped water bottle and get into the heavenly habit of refilling it every time you pass a tap. So simple and yet so darn effective.
2. There’s No Excuse For Single Use
Single-use plastics are the biggest threat to the world right now. Bigger than cows trumping or Donald Trump living for another fifty years. They’re just the worst. So, wherever you live, wherever you call home or waltz into work, the most awesome thing you can do is refuse single-use plastics.
Take plastic bags with you to the supermarket, carry a reusable water bottle on you at all times, only accept paper straws and cardboard cups, and politely decline any plastic forks that get dropped in the bag with your foil takeaway containers. Nothing is worse for the world than using a plastic fork for two minutes when it has a lifespan of 2,000-plus years. Like we said, there’s no excuse for single use.
3. Always Remember To Recycle
If you can’t rethink plastic, then make sure you recycle the stuff. That should go without saying. If can be recycled, then recycle it. Make whatever little tweaks need to be made to make it recyclable and get into a habit of saving the planet one piece of plastic at a time.
Clean out your dirty salsa tubs, remove the caps from your Fanta bottles and tear of that flimsy plastic film from the top of your pop-di-ping meals. Whatever it takes to keep your plastic tidbits out of the ocean and reduce the amount of “new” plastic currently in circulation around the world. Pleeeease.
4. Time To Move Over, Microbeads
Pppuffffffffffffffffffffffff. That was the sound of us exhaling a huge lungful of air, unsure of where to start on this one. So let’s go with a Layman-style definition. Microbeads are the teeny-tiny plastic balls - almost invisible to the naked eye - that are used in so many everyday personal care products; things like shower gels, face scrubs and toothpastes, all of which are marketed by sensationalists as: "helping to clean you".
The problem is, after using these products, the tiny beads get rinsed off your body, into your sink, down the plug hole and into your drains, before they end up in our waterways and oceans affecting fish, sharks, whales and all the other amazing animals that swan around the oceans minding their own business (oh and these beads also get in your gums and your mouth because, well, you were brushing with them). Anyway, the small fish eat these beads thinking they are food, the big fish eat the little fish because that’s how the food chain works, and we eat the big fish because they taste so damn good. This is worrying as one in four fish we eat has consumed a microplastic that can be traced back to face scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes. The point is: microbeads are a massive global issue affecting all of us humans.
5. Support Those Superheroes Doing Good
There are hundreds of people, organisations and brands doing more than their bit to protect the oceans, and they could really do with your support in whatever form that might be. It could be that you donate money to an ocean conservation group, organise a beach clean up with the support of Surfers Against Sewage, or just buy your bits and bobs from brands that have a worthwhile collaboration with a charitable body. Yup. That includes us. For every Blue Ocean Plastics tie you buy, we donate 25% of proceeds to the Blue Marine Foundation. And we’re just one of the thousands doing a similar thing. Basically, it’s never been easier to pat a hero on the back and lend them that extra bit of support. Just do it.
6. Shout From The Rooftops
Seriously. Success on this front is all about spreading the word, so take whatever excel spreadsheet you’re carrying in your hands, roll it into a DIY megaphone and become a voice of reason in your area. Stay informed. Share news articles related to plastic pollution on your Facebook page, shame companies that are still producing one-use plastics on Twitter, drop our little planet-saving tips into general chit-chat with your friends and familias, and get people around to yours for movie nights where you press play on documentaries focused on plastic pollution; documentaries like Addicted To Plastic, Bag It, Plasticized and Garbage Island. Anything that will motivate the other people in your little world into doing more.
The ocean is responsible for more than half of our oxygen supply. That’s how important it is to us. But, through plastic pollution, we are impacting the balance of nature and shooting ourselves in the foot as a species. So let’s be the generation that stops polluting our oceans and give the planet time to recover. If not... well... you guys have seen Pixar's Wall-E right? Spoiler alert: It’s not good news
Thanks for reading. For more ideas on how to embrace the endless summer, chase the horizon and keep your skin sun-kissed all year round, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and sign-up for a naughty-little newsletter below! (you’ll get a cheeky 10% off your first order at REEF KNOTS if you do).