Blog by Nathan
Sustainable Merton Community Champion
This month is Plastic Free July and Sustainable Merton is prompting residents to be part of the solution to plastic pollution and improve the wellbeing of our natural world and the animals which inhabit it by reducing their single-use plastic habit.
Plastic Free July is a campaign which calls for tidier residential streets, parks, green spaces and oceans by prompting people to reduce or refuse single-use plastic. The annual campaign makes reducing plastic fun through creating weekly challenges where people can share their top tips and contribute their suggestions from their experience.
Plastic Free July feels all the more relevant upon discovering that every year we are throwing away approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic, 10 million tonnes of which finds its way to the ocean. According to the article Plastic Pollution: take-out food is littering the oceans by Helen Briggs for BBC News, it is estimated that between 307 and 925 pieces of litter float along our rivers and along to the sea every year.
The 10 million tonnes of plastic polluting the ocean is endangering all wildlife which inhabit it. Marine wildlife eat and digest it, with some drowning due to suffocation or from starvation, according to the recent article World Oceans Day: why is there so much plastic in the ocean? by Isabelle Gerretsen. If this mindless littering continues there might be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Already plastics have made their way into our own food chain and it is estimated that the average person could be ingesting 5 grams of plastic every week, equal to one credit card.
This is an incredibly alarming and frustrating overview of the impact of our reliance on single-use plastic and I strongly agree with Dr Daniel Gonzalez when discussing this topic with Helen Briggs from BBC News who stresses ‘we need to act from a citizens point of view’. The Plastic Free July campaign is definitely a place where people can start to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic for a cleaner, healthier environment for the wildlife who inhabit the ocean.
Here are a few tips, and many more are featured on the Plastic Free July website as a starting point if you’d like to be part of the solution to reduce the amount of single-use plastic polluting the ocean:
1. Refuse single-use takeaway coffee cups (which are often lined with plastic) and bring along a reusable cup instead
2. Swap a single-use plastic water bottles for a reusable bottle
3. Refuse pre-packaged fruit and vegetables and shop with reusable fruit and vegetable bags such as the ones that are not available from the supermarket Lidl
Get the Refill App to live with less plastic!
Brought to you by Sustainable Merton as part of the national award-winning Refill scheme by City to Sea, Refill Merton connects you to places to eat and drink and shop with less waste.
Anyone can download the free Refill app to tap into a global network of places to reduce, reuse and refill. From a coffee on your commute to drinking water on the go, or even shopping with less plastic. Refill puts the power to go packaging free at your fingertips.
Find out more at sustainablemerton.org/refill-merton
"I am very excited to take part in the Plastic Free July challenge. I already consider myself quite an environmentally conscious consumer but as a family of three, we still have a lot of plastic waste every week! I am convinced it is unnecessary and I just need to prioritise plastic-free over convenience. We often buy recipe kits and lots of snacks when we haven't got much time. I am going to try and cut out plastic as much as I can, look for alternatives and take containers, bags and my reusable coffee cup with me wherever I go. I hope that after a month, I will have realised that plastic-free does not necessarily mean it's more expensive or more time-consuming... we will see!"
Sustainable Merton Community Champion
Follow Hanna's challenge on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!