After the hugely popular #BeatPlasticPollution campaign began last year, with support from organisations like National Geographic and Earth Day Network, it has only gained momentum. With increasing awareness of ways to increase sustainability and mounting pressure from the general public, businesses are beginning to make it easier and easier to adjust daily tasks and go plastic-free. For a few little ways to go sustainable while travelling take a look at this post I wrote for holidaycottages.co.uk. I thought I would pick out my own simple swap and make it a resolution for 2019.
When it comes to plastic, I am a culprit of laziness. I recycle but I also buy far more often than I need in the first place in the form of lunches, snacks, and bottled water.
There are plenty of industries that are having a huge negative effect on the world and are slowly becoming more and more talked about, including the world of fast fashion – another area where I need to seriously rethink my consumption. Yet, plastic still seems to be at the heart of it all.
Everything we touch seems to be made from plastic, contained in plastic or somehow plasticised. All over the world, all kinds of items made from plastic years back are washing up on beaches. In places like India, people are trying to earn a living by sorting through rubbish tips, damaging their own health, to find and sell plastic to recycling companies. I heard mention on the news the other day of a 22-year-old woman who'd been collecting rubbish and found a crisp packet dated from 30 years ago – she’s collecting rubbish that was discarded long before she was born. As plastic can take anything from 10-1000 years to decompose, it’s highly probable that items like this will still be around long after she has gone.
To put that in perspective, plastic bottles on average take 450 years to decompose. Approximately 13 billion plastic bottles are used each year in the UK, that’s roughly 361 bottles of water per person per year. 7.5 billion (or 208 per person) are recycled leaving 5.5 billion plastic bottles a year ending up in landfill or in our oceans. That’s 153 plastic bottles per person every year that are not being recycled so, those of us that rely heavily on bottled water would make a huge difference by ending that habit of buying. Making an effort to reuse every plastic bottle bought already halves the number of plastic bottles one person is sending to landfill.
I’m no expert – not even close! – these are just a few (rather dull) simple sums I’ve done on my own to get a rough idea of what my own plastic bottle consumption looks like, especially as I am a self-confessed plastic bottle-aholic. I recycle but it feels like recycling is more effort than simply refilling a bottle with tap water. The best swap I can make this year is choosing a reusable bottle and refilling it rather than buying and discarding plastic bottles of water each day.
Or for an inspirational read discussing travel ideas off the beaten path, take a look at my post revealing a few remarkable holiday destinations.