The Last Straw

One of the biggest issues we will face as human beings. The plastic crisis. Plastic, the very sturdy and handy material used for items that we take for granted on a daily basis needs to be replaced. We’ve all done it in the past, you’re in a supermarket buying a drink of water. You take a plastic bag - just in case the bottle makes your bag wet, or to make it easier to carry. Right? We’ve all been guilty of this at one stage of our lives. Unfortunately with this amazingly sturdy, well lasting material… As you may have guessed, it lasts forever.

Yep. Forever.

One plastic bag for example takes approximately 500 yeas to full decompose. A plastic straw, 200 years, and as for the plastic bottle, 450 years. 

The once mocked and ignored re-usable shopping bags are now the one thing we remember to take with us and curse if we forget. In the past there was a stage where people refused to pay for one, now they refuse to pay 5p for a plastic bag. Should this be a higher penalty for a plastic bag? Maybe if the plastic bags were the same price or more than the re-usable ones this would be a step in the right direction to completely remove the option. The whole time they sit at 5p it is still too easy for people to forget or choose not to use a bag for life.

It is only 5p to us but is causing a deadly issue for the wildlife and planet. A fact taken from the newspaper which encouraged me to go plastic free, stated; according to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

By 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish. 

Just get that into your heads next time you buy a plastic bottle or plastic bag.

Ok, we know this isn’t going to be an overnight change. However if everybody only bought one bottle of water and refilled it throughout the day, or took a re-usable bottle (which are a little expensive but worth it) the manufacturers of plastic bottles may have to re-think materials for products. It will come to a point where we simply cannot produce any more plastic full stop. Restaurants and bars have started to remove the option of plastic straws, replacing them with paper straws or not giving customers the option. The chain pub JD Weatherspoon’s were one of the first to do this, replacing their’s with paper ones. Mcdonalds need to up their game. Why could they not also change to paper? It wouldn't kill people. The whole time they aren't it is killing the wildlife. (Link contains upsetting content - please do not click HERE unless ok with seeing this)

The first project I undertook on my Masters degree focused on this topic and looked specifically at daily items such plastic straws and bags placing them inside a ‘break in an emergency’ box. The concept of this outcome was to communicate this exigency and make people think harder about whether they need it or if they could last without it, or if they could avoid going through the difficult one off process of removing it from the box.

Since taking part of this challenge to myself to go as plastic free as I can. I now carry the items I buy in the supermarket or I take my fold up reusable bag. Most supermarkets also offer FREE cardboard boxes to use too, are from when the food is shipped in and can be used and are stronger than most reusable bags. These have become my new best friend if I forget my bags as they have multiple purposes. I also refuse to put my fruit and veg in plastic bags when buying it. Is there really a need? Again yes it makes it easier to carry, but it really isn’t needed. Also not needed is the plastic packeted fruit and veg, why not just sell everything separately - the producers know it is easier for people to pick up a pack of four apples in one plastic packet than pick up four apples separately. But how lazy are we?

I have bought two reusable bottles for my drinks, one from Chilly’s Uk and the other from Swell. Both do the trick and yes they actually do keep your water cold for 24hours - even in the heat! Much better with more benefits to me than a plastic bottle.

I have also started to use the shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush, they are available online elsewhere for slightly cheaper, however with only me using it I have been using it every other day and it has lasted so far 3 months, I am not even half way through. Not only are they better for your hair (that’s not a lie! My hair has never felt better) they are also great for the planet! A lot of people are put off with the price, why would you spend more than you need? I understand that - this will need to be the point the manufactures step in and find alternative packaging, otherwise we won’t get very far.

On the note I started on, this is a worldwide crisis that WE need to deal with, no one else can. There are alternatives we can use. Yes they are more expensive to start with, but you are repaid with the good feeling that you are doing your bit. They do also last long enough for you to get your moneys worth. Go plastic free, and try the change. What do you have to lose? - The planet and wildlife won’t be one of them.