While being near or in the ocean brings me infinite amounts of joy, I couldn’t say the same when it comes to the majority of the news about it. Every time I open one of the news sites, I see another article on how a whale has washed up with a belly full of plastic bags or how our oceans are in great danger and the news is even more heartbreaking today, on World Oceans Day.
Here’s just a few bits of statistics to help understand why exactly plastic is so bad:
about 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year; only about 10 percent of that is recycled and a lot of it is not even recyclable
estimated seven million tons of plastic waste ends up in the sea each year where it breaks into smaller pieces, making it easily ingested by marine animals
it takes 500 to 1000 years for plastic to degrade
one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans
If you need more convincing that plastic is bad, I highly recommend watching the last season of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 where he shows the devastating effects plastic has on our oceans. A must-see for everyone. It’s heartbreaking but also eye-opening.
No matter how you look at it, yes, recycling is good, reusing is better but what’s even better is reducing our plastic waste.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say all plastic is bad. It’s durable, lightweight and cheap and is definitely a step forward when it comes to medical supplies and many other areas, the main issue is single use plastic—bags, straws, bottles and other packaging.
Dog cleaning up our mess. Photo credit: Katarina Tavcar.
The good thing is, we’ve started to talk about it---judging by the amount of articles on the topic---which is the first step to change and there are little everyday things that pretty much everyone of us can do in order to help battle this growing issue (and practice our yoga off the mat).
Here are a few ways to reduce or limit our plastic waste:
- Say no to plastic bags
This one is the easiest. Whenever you go shopping, bring a reusable (cotton) tote with you. I usually carry an extra one in my bag at all times so I don’t have an excuse if I randomly end up at the store (which happens more often than I care to admit). Also, when buying fruit from the supermarket, stick the label directly on the fruit/vegetable rather than using a plastic bag. Most supermarkets are cool about it and who knows, maybe you even inspire someone to do the same.
- Refuse the straw
You know what’s even cooler than a smoothie with a pretty colourful straw? A smoothie with a pretty colourful glass (or stainless steel or bamboo) straw that doesn’t end up in the ocean. Paper and biodegradable straws are better than the usual suspects (aka plastic straws), of course, but why not reduce the waste completely when it comes to straws and carry yours with you whenever you go? Plastic sucks (pun intended), let’s do what we can to fight it.
- Reusable coffee mugs + water bottles
Coffee to go—yep, I love it to. But did you know that contrary to popular belief most to-go coffee cups are not really recyclable since the majority is lined with plastic and they usually come with plastic lids? Not to mention plastic water bottles! We can avoid both if we think ahead and bring our glass mugs and bottles. Some cafes even offer discounts to those who bring their own mugs. Talking about supporting less waste!
- Shop more on farmers’ markets, less in supermarkets
Is it that simple? Yeah, pretty much. Brining your tote bags (and reusable glass/silicone containers) is even easier at farmers’ markets plus you won’t just be avoiding plastic, you’ll be supporting your local farmers more and eating seasonally as well. Win-win situation.
I know it takes effort to bring this stuff with us and think ahead, but knowing we’re switching to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and saving our planet Earth and the oceans overweighs the hassle.
Many would argue that these little bits and bobs do nothing in the grand scheme of things. They’d say a change has to happen on a bigger scale in order for us to tackle this plastic issue head on. And I agree, a bigger change is necessary, but that doesn’t mean that those little bits don’t help at all and this quote from the book Cloud Atlas sums it up perfectly.
“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” ~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
May the force (and reusable tote bags) be with you!
Dreamer, creator, lover, yogi.