Plastic Free July

Family Health Diary

It’s ‘Plastic Free July’ and I for one need to try harder. And I want to. Earlier this year I went on a beach clean-up day with my daughter’s school. Before we left we all watched a heart breaking clip about the sheer volume of rubbish in the ocean and the marine and bird life that are being tangled in it, eating it and dying because of it. It was confronting. It made you feel utterly ashamed to be human and see what our lack of foresight, love of convenience and cavalier attitude to rubbish is doing to these poor creatures. The 5 Gyres Institute has a great site that educates you about the ocean currents and the plastic problem.

There’s many issues here to address along the way – but surely the very first issue to face, is to not use so much plastic to start with. Many plastics, like glass too are made to last forever, yet we treat these items as a one use thing, then discard…which then starts a cascade of problems. So if we can all do only one thing – surely it’s to decrease the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives, which is the challenge on offer at Plastic Free July. Reduce is after all the first call to action with the old reduce, reuse, recycle catch cry.

This site tells me that by 2050 it’s estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. Unacceptable. Certainly when we arrived on what looked like a pristine St Helier’s Bay beach from the roadside, there was a ridiculous amount of rubbish on closer inspection. Rubbish that filled too many bags, large items to small bits that no doubt looked like food to a fish, all of which would have gone out in the next tide and were purposely discarded but some low life. As I candidly said the girls in my group…what sort of unthinking dick head are you to think that’s ok behaviour? In those bags we definitely saw the top four single use plastics on the Plastic Free July challenge list – being plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Get this from 5gyres site: In one week we go through 10 billion plastic bags worldwide, in the USA an average of 2.5 million plastic bottles are used every hour whilst over 500 million straws are used daily! And a Guardian article tell me that UK coffee drinkers use 3 billion disposable cups a year, but only 1 in 1000 is actually recycled.

Personally I wonder why we ever need straws anyway. Useless articles. And water bottles in my opinion are all a ridiculous marketing ploy anyway – drink out of a fountain, get a reusable water bottle – or use a cup! Plastic bags – I think we are all more aware these days, but the takeaway coffee cup is a huge problem. I’m going to undertake now to carry a reusable coffee cup in my car because the wax lining on coffee cups means they are not recyclable. I always thought they were naively, due to the paper, but alas no. I am not sure why cafes can’t charge less to a customer who brings their own coffee cup as an incentive. We are used to paying for a plastic bag, so why not make us pay for a coffee cup too and try to re-educate us all to be more sustainable. Go on, take the challenge for plastic free July and do your bit for the planet. Lord knows we need to try and arrest the damage being done by us humans, even if it’s one coffee cup at a time.


Written by Jude Dobson

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