Plastic Free July: How we can all play our part
Here in the UK, it is estimated that we use a mind blowing five million tonnes of plastic every year. Plastics are known to cause problems for human health, and they are also a major source of pollution for the world’s waterways. Sadly, the latest data from the United Nations suggests that around 75 to 199 million tonnes of plastic are found in oceans worldwide.
In our busy modern lives, plastics have come to dominate virtually every aspect of our daily routines. As individuals therefore, there is an onus on all of us to take small steps to reduce our use of this ever-present material. When combined, all our individual efforts have the potential to make a significant impact for future generations. Through working together, we can start to help society move in a different direction and we can create a future where less plastics will be in circulation.
Refill your bottles!
UN Environment Programme statistics reveal that the world produces about 400 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. With this in mind, it is important that we all try to embrace some minor changes to help bring this figure right down. We are lucky in the UK to have some of the best quality drinking water in the world and according to the Drinking Water Inspectorate, our tap water passes around 99.97% of tests. This does not, however, stop us from buying 7.7 billion plastic water bottles every year as statistics from the Environment Audit Committee suggest. Unfortunately, after use, many of these bottles are soon sent to landfill where they can be incinerated and in turn contribute to the production of up to 233,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. Instead of buying drinks in plastic bottles we can make sure that we are taking reusable water bottles and drinking flasks with us wherever we go. The Refill app is a great way to support this as it enables users to find more than 274,000 water refill stations globally.
Inspire your local community to act
We should be mindful of the fact that less than 10% of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far has been recycled. While this figure is a stark reminder of the problems that are presented by plastic, we should feel hopeful that we can turn the tide on shocking statistics like this. By rallying together and encouraging one another to reduce plastic use we can start to make a difference. Community groups on social media and local business associations are fantastic forums to galvanise support. Through using these channels, we can effectively raise concerns about litter and the overuse of plastics in our local area while also calling for suggestions from colleagues, neighbours, and friends about the ways that our communities can start to become plastic-free.
Where we go from here
The UN has predicted that if the world continues its current trajectory, then this could result in the level of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, use and disposal of fossil fuel-based plastics rising to 19% of the global carbon budget by 2040. We cannot wait for this to happen. In 2023 it is easy for us all to play our part and Plastic Free July is a fantastic starting point. Why not pledge your support for the campaign today?
For useful resources and tips on ways you use can reduce your use of single use plastic, visit the Plastic Free July website