We are all very aware of the plastic crisis our planet is currently facing, and if you’ve ever seen the images of animals consuming our waste as they mistake it for food, you know how truly heartbreaking it is.
But, why have things got so bad and what can we do as individuals to try and change them?
How It Started:
Plastics really started to become disposable after the Second World War when they began to be mass-produced and replace items that had previously been made of paper, glass and metal. By the 70s and 80s, these new plastics were being used to make most things, including consumer packaging, plastic bags, and even clothes.
This cheap, easily-manufactured packaging and clothing led to a “single-use” culture that has prevailed to today, as has much of the plastic from this time.
All the things that make plastic a great material for such a wide range of uses are also the same reasons it hangs around forever.
Most plastics take decades, or even centuries, to break down and then often become what are known as micro-plastics. These are plastic particles so small that they cannot be easily recovered or recycled.
There have even been reports of them entering the food chain as they are consumed by animals and are absorbed into their bodies.
How It’s Going:
We are now at a point where plastic waste has polluted almost every environment on earth and it seems almost impossible to escape it in our everyday lives, but there is hope for the future!
There are big efforts to remove plastic waste from our seas, with initiatives like The Ocean Cleanup, Common Seas, and The Marine Diaries all working hard to clean our oceans, spread awareness and get governments around the world involved. These organisations do great work but they need your help!
Whether that’s simply changing your habits or going the extra mile and getting out to your local beach or riverbank to do a litter pick. You can usually find a local organisation doing regular clean-ups near you. But if not, maybe get some of your friends and neighbours together and organise one of your own.
What You Can Do To Help:
Entirely cutting plastic from your life might seem like an impossible task, but there are plenty of small changes you can try that will make a huge difference to the amount of waste ending up in our oceans.
A good place to start is by thinking about the sorts of disposable things you might use on a daily basis.
- Do you use plastic bags when you buy things at the shops?
- Do you get disposable cups when you get a coffee?
- Are you buying plastic bottles of water or using plastic cutlery when you get lunch on the go?
Just by switching to reusable bags, cups, bottles, and cutlery, you could help prevent some of the estimated 12 million metric tons of plastic from entering our oceans each year!
Another way you can help stop plastic from ending up in landfills or the sea is to make sure you recycle everything that can be recycled. It is a good idea to check which plastics your local recycling centre accepts and make sure that they are cleaned and separated properly.
You can also support a lot of the organisations that are working to preserve our oceans, like The Marine Diaries and Common Seas. Most of them rely on donations to do their work and even a small contribution can make a big difference to what they are able to achieve.
With all of the scary things going on in the world, from fishing nets in the sea, oil spills and so much more, it can be hard to know where to start.
However, there is a LOT of good!
The huskup, the refill bottle and reusables are all visual reminders to everyone that we CAN make a difference. All of these small changes make big differences.
And, as we speak out more to our friends, family and businesses about the urgent need to shift to a more sustainable practice – we can spread the good all around.
More About Huskup:
Not all reusable products are made equal.
Many are made of plastics that are not recyclable let alone biodegradable.
However, there are some amazing, innovative, reusable, and sustainable products out there!
Here at huskup, we use rice husks, a natural by-product of the food industry, to make our eco-friendly cups. They are certified biodegradable but will last you for years of use if you take care of them, and as they contain no plastics are BPA-free.
Our silicone lids and sleeves are also recycled and reused at the end of your Huskup’s life. That means that it doesn’t have to spend centuries hanging around in landfill or the ocean.
We also sell a range of RE-USE-ME cutlery made from the same rice husks as our cups!
It’s probably safe to say most people in the UK have already made the switch to reusable carrier bags since we are now charged for them in the shops. But, if you want a bag that gives back we love TreeSisters tote bags.
Cute designs, organic cotton, made in a renewable energy powered factory and a percentage of the profits fund the replanting of rainforests around the world!
As you are probably already aware there are plenty of companies out there offering reusable products. Just take a quick look through the Amazon marketplace and you’ll be spoiled for choice.
But, take a closer look and you’ll see that most of these products are not made of recyclable, bio-degradable or sustainable materials.
This can be a big problem when these products reach the end of their lives as they often just end up in landfills or the ocean, exacerbating our pollution problems.
Something else to bear in mind when buying reusable products is to ensure that they are first and foremost BPA-free. Bisphenol-A, or BPA, is known to cause a whole host of health problems so it is definitely best to avoid it, especially in drinks bottles and travel cups as the chemicals involved can easily leech into drinks.
There is lots of research being done worldwide into the ways we can replace plastics with eco-friendly substitutes and eliminate the plastic pollution already in the environment.
Researchers from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have recently come up with a way to use bacteria to collect micro-plastics. This new way of capturing these tiny pieces of plastic in a “biofilm” is not only revolutionary but also sustainable and could allow for easier recycling.
Governments around the world are also starting to take the plastic problem seriously with many of them making pledges to cut production over the next 50 years.
Australia has this year pledged to phase out many single-use plastics like cutlery, straws, and polystyrene food containers by 2025. Given that the country produces around 2.5 million tonnes of plastic a year with an estimated 130,000 tonnes escaping into the environment, this could make a huge difference.
Although it can sometimes feel like we are fighting a losing battle when it comes to the increasing amount of plastic in our environment, there are some big changes happening in business, government, and individual homes.
All of these add up, and with the efforts of organisations like some of those listed above to clear the plastics that are already in our waterways, we feel there is real hope for the future.
The future for us is bright and plastic-free!