Did you know that less than a fifth of the worlds plastic gets recycled? For the sake of our planet, we need to make some changes and fast.
Due to the unnatural composition of plastic it never biodegrades, and when it does eventually break down, it just forms into smaller particles making it even more consumable and detrimental to wildlife. It is estimated by National Geographic that plastic is killing millions of marine animals each year.
The plastic straw we pick up with every drink at the bar, or the cling film wrapped food we buy at the supermarket are all having a devastating effect on our planet, namely our oceans – and whilst we may think “it’s just the one straw” when 8 billion people have the same thought it then becomes the widespread problem that we currently find ourselves in. Coming from a gorgeous coastal county in England makes me so passionate to protect our areas of natural beauty, and the wildlife that inhabit them.
By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
The worlds plastic consumption has become so obscene that sadly now just recycling isn’t enough, we need to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – in that order. This means cutting out single use plastics whenever we can. As we reach the end of “plastic free July” I wanted to share some of my advice on ditching the plastic and the alternatives I have found. I’m not going to lie, it is hard and there are times where I have found plastic is completely unavoidable – it’s not until you become aware of plastic that you realise just how much it is used, especially here in the UAE where recycling has not yet reached the phenomenon of the UK. But with a little more attention and awareness it really is possible to reduce our plastic consumption, and the more people who make a change ultimately equates to a bigger change for the world we live in.
1) Ditch the carrier bag!
Plastic bags here are given out like there is an endless supply, that does not mean we have to accept them. Use your own reusable bags whilst shopping, if everyone took the initiative to do this the worlds plastic bag situation would be a lot healthier. Waitrose here in Abu Dhabi have begun to charge for plastic bags, and even offer a bag recycling point in store which is a positive step forward for the UAE and carrier bags.
2) Invest in a reusable coffee cup
Coffee is a big part of life here, and worldwide. Why not have your takeaway coffee made in a reusable cup?
3) Say no to the straw and cutlery
As I mentioned before straws are a completely unnecessary use of plastic, and whilst this issue is just a small part of the plastic fight, every small change helps. For those that really want to use a straw, there is metal, paper and bamboo alternatives available which are much healthier for the planet.
Living in the UAE it is all too easy to order takeaway, we don’t even need to make a phone call – we simply load Zomato, choose our order and it is delivered to our door. The simple truth is though, we all have our own cutlery at home, no one needs the plastic cutlery that they send which is usually wrapped in another layer of plastic. But did you know there is now an option on Zomato to opt out of the customary plastic cutlery they always send?
4) Look for alternative toiletries
Personal care items are one of the areas that I find hardest to cut back on, everything seems to come in a plastic bottle. I was so excited to discover the Naked range from lush, which includes shampoo bars, conditioners, and shower gels/soaps. I was initially aware that the cost seems a lot higher than usual items I’d pick up at Boots, however I have found the products to be so long-lasting that it outweighs the initial outlay.
It’s been refreshing to find that grocery shops are participating in the plastic free momentum, supermarkets such as Carrefour will accept your own containers for refillable items such as spices, nuts, pulses etc. The Organic Foods and Cafe also has a refill station, which includes household items such as laundry detergent, washing up liquid, hand soap and more (liquid refills are only available at their SZR branch).
6) Install a water filter
When I first started to become really conscious of my plastic use bottled water was probably the biggest issue I stumbled upon. Generally, the tap water here is not safe to drink, so it felt like bottled water was unavoidable – all these empty bottles seemed like such a waste. After some research I discovered that only 10% of plastic water bottles are recycled, that’s a shockingly low percentage for something that is used in such large quantities. However, I discovered there is an alternative here, it is possible to have a filtration system installed to clean your water, completely eliminating the need for plastic bottles. For on the go scenarios a refillable bottle can be used directly from the tap. There are a few companies here that specialise in this, but one I found particularly helpful was Liquid of Life; Check out their website here
Please help us to protect our beautiful planet by “Reducing, Reusing and Recycling” at every opportunity you can.