Recycling is Sexy

^Well thats not actually what this post is about, but it made you click on it!

For this blog post, I would like to share a recent experience with you all. Just yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend of mine (who wishes to remain anonymous) but let’s call her Sarah.

Meet Sarah:

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Well, thats not actually Sarah, but we can pretend.

Just yesterday, I watched Sarah dispose of perfectly receivable material in a waste bin, and I have to say I was shocked, after all, she even knows that I’m trying to ban single use plastics and encouraging recycling and reuse… Like if there’s anyone you’re going to recycle in front of, it’s probably me. So it sparked a conversation between us about why, why she didn’t recycle it, why she doesn’t bring reusable materials with her and why in her opinion, more people don’t.

Her answers revealed a lot that is probably true of many in our society. Why she didn’t recycle? Well there simply wasn’t a recycling bin in a convenient distance, which I suppose was true, and I do believe that there aren’t enough recycling bins on our streets. Waste bins are everywhere, but where recycling is more difficult it’s very easy for recyclable material to be wasted.

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Sure, not all coffee cups are recyclable, but, since Sarah purchases a take away coffee every day… why not bring a reusable coffee cup? Well, Sarah said she felt awkward going to a coffee shop and asking them to make her order in her own cup. Sarah said she felt like there is a sort of underlying social stigma against it, like it would make her seem “like one of those tree huggers, you know”. This I had a problem with, not a problem with Sarah, because she is just following society, but more so a problem with our society itself. It should not be considered uncool to care about the environment. I understand that there are people that chain themselves to trees and other more extreme measures, and I can also understand not wanting to join them, but something as simple as diligently recycling and bringing a reusable coffee cup or cutlery should just be considered socially and environmentally responsible.

It should be cool to look after our planet.

Perhaps something needs to set the trend, for instance more coffee shops should encourage bringing your own reusable cup through a promotion (I’m sure some already do!), whether it be a simple sign by the counter to encourage people to bring one, an outright discount or a free size upgrade…

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And really, how CHIC are those?! Um hello, who would want a boring take away cup anyway

I know what your thinking: This has nothing to do with straws… but it does. Straws are part of the same family – single use plastics. Our fight against straws is a fight for the environment, a grassroots level of fighting against man made single use items that have the potential to harm the environment or the creatures within it.

What’s your opinion? Like Sarah, does a social stigma prevent you from being more Eco-friendly?

How plastic pollution affects YOU

Under the Ocean has teamed up with Tax the Bag to bring you this post about how plastic pollution – the topic we are both fighting against – affects you… yes, you.

  1. It ruins the beaches you love

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See this photo? That was taken at Manly, and those straws alone were collected in just a 20-minute period. It’s no surprise that Manly’s Shelly beach is actually labeled as New South Wales’s dirtiest beach. It’s not just straws of course, plastic bottles, bags and countless other pieces of plastic litter the sand you lie on and the sea you swim in.

The Business Insider compiled a list of the cleanest and dirtiest beaches around Australia, check it out:

New South Wales

  • Dirtiest: Shelly Beach, Manly
  • Cleanest: Red Rock Beach, NSW North Coast

Northern Territory

  • Dirtiest: Cape Arnhem
  • Cleanest: Cape Hay

Queensland

  • Dirtiest: Barney Point Beach, Gladstone
  • Cleanest: Mackay

South Australia

  • Dirtiest: Border Village (SA)
  • Cleanest: Nora Creina

Tasmania

  • Dirtiest: East Kangaroo Island (West Gulch)
  • Cleanest: Cape Grim

Victoria

  • Dirtiest: Pearse’s Road Beach
  • Cleanest: Gibbs Track Beach, Lakes Entrance

Western Australia

  • Dirtiest: Ellensbrook Beach
  • Cleanest: 80 Mile Beach

If you don’t enjoy lying on a beach covered with plastics, then next time your there, make sure you dispose of all your rubbish properly, and pick up a few extra pieces too if you can!

 

  1. It comes back through the food you eat.

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Fish in the ocean ingest micro plastics, mistaking it as food. Fish can’t process such plastic particles through their body, and so they remain there. Fish even ingest these particles indirectly, through the consumption of other fish, which have already ingested them. It’s not just the fragments of plastic themselves, but the fish also absorb the toxins the plastic releases. Those fish end up on plates around the world. Essentially, we are eating our own waste.

If you don’t like seafood, don’t think you’ve been spared – micro plastics have been found in salt too. A study conducted at Shanghai’s East China Normal University revealed Chinese samples of salt from various sources contain tiny plastic particles.

 

  1. Plastic pollution is threatening your health

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As the point above has stated, plastic pollution has made its way into our food chain. Plastic pollution affects human health, humans manage to dump tons of plastic trash into the ocean. Plastic takes thousands of years to decay and break down. Fish and other animals ingest these plastic toxins and as a result these toxins have become part of our food chain. This threatens human health. Broken up plastic act like sponges, they absorb toxins from other sources before entering the ocean. Fish eat these plastic toxins which leads to humans eating them too. Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) contained in some plastics, is a toxic carcinogen. Some other toxins in plastics are linked to cancers, birth defects, immune system problems, and childhood developmental issues.

 

  1. Plastics are one of the largest contributors to ocean pollution
PHILIPPINES-ENVIRONMENT-WORLD WATER DAY

A father and son (L) on a makeshift boat made from styrofoam paddle through a garbage filled river as they collect plastic bottles that they can sell in junkshops in Manila on March 19, 2015. They earn three US dollars a day. The Philippines will be observing World Water day on March 22, a global event that focuses on finding access to clean and safe water.  (NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Oceans are fundamental to the health of our planet. 97% of Earths water supply is contained in the ocean. 215 metric tons of plastic, such as plastic bags, straws, bottles make their way into the sea in 2010 alone. This plastic pollution is avoidable and does not take much effort. If more people simply started using a reusable canvas or tote bag when shopping or brought a reusable bottle when going out, the amount of plastic pollution in the Ocean would reduce dramatically.

 

-Katharine and Cindy.

This post was made in collaboration with Tax the bag.

For more from Tax the Bag, check them out!

5 Reasons You Should Stop Using Plastic Bags

Check out this great post! 5 clear reasons you should stop using plastic bags. Definitely worth a read, we are all responsible for our impact on this earth.

1. They are disastrous for wildlife Birds, fish, tortoises and other types of animals can choke or be poisoned by plastic bags. Animals can mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and ingest and …

Source: 5 Reasons You Should Stop Using Plastic Bags

The Ultimate Solution

In the ideal world, the ultimate solution to end the problem of plastic pollution would be a worldwide ban on plastics altogether, therefore completely eliminating the chance of any plastic entering the ocean or inland waterways. This is, of course, not realistic. Plastic is utilised because of its convenience and practicality of use, and in reality, the harm caused by plastics would not be nearly so severe if all recyclable material was recycled, and otherwise, everything was disposed of properly. Like I said before, this is just not realistic. In fact, the inherent durability of plastic is what makes it an even bigger issue to the environment, a lot of it takes centuries to break down, and some never does.

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While there are efforts to make current plastics more ‘environmentally friendly’, a lot more can be done.

Think beyond plastic bags and water bottles, what about the plastic cups, plates bowls and plastic disposable cutlery (…not to mention straws!)? Why are they necessary? What’s their real impact? Well, did you know roughly 10 million plastic straws used a day in Australia? 500 million straws a day in the US? One million plastic cups are discarded around the world every single minute? That’s probably at least two million by the time you read this post.

There is no reason why any of those things can’t be made of biodegradable, eco friendly material. Some countries around the world have already figured this out, and France is one of them. France has set in place a ban on single use plastic bags coming into place this year, and is imposing a ban on all disposable cutlery, plates and cups by 2020. The rest of the world needs to follow suit, but of course it’s not always that easy. There is a lot of money and big industries tied up with plastic and plastic products and biodegradable options are generally more expensive. Although, if all plastics were banned, companies would essentially be forced to come up with alternative materials from which to craft products. An expensive process, no doubt, but eventually companies would have to experiment with ways to make durable, eco friendly materials and products with a minimal environmental impact as cheap as possible to maximize their profits, ultimately lowering the price of biodegradable or eco-friendly products.

Another solution would be to impose a plastic tax, not just on plastic bags, but on all disposable plastics. If the tax was heavy enough, if would have the same effect as the ban in that for risk of losing business altogether due to reduced profit, companies would search for more eco friendly materials to base their products off to reduce the tax. Taxing plastic bags around the world has shown an enormous reduction in plastic bag usage, but its not enough. The tax really needs to be higher, and cover more plastic products. The problem with introducing a tax is that no one likes a new tax. No one wants to support the idea of paying more, even if it is for the benefit of the environment. The potential of a plastic tax extends further than just reducing the amount of plastic consumed: imagine what could be done with the revenue. The revenue from the tax (in the ideal world) could be used to fund numerous environmental projects, help clean up some of the existing plastic in the ocean and even subsidise environmentally friendly products.

As a society we have become so accustomed to our patterns of consumption that no one really thinks about the true impact of their actions. After all, that bottle of water you brought yesterday, and that take away coffee you had this morning… they have no impact right? They have no wider global effect right? That’s the attitude that needs to be changed to create real change in the world. It starts here, with campaigns like this. Small changes which lead to bigger changes, precedents which one day the world will follow.

It’s The Final Straw

Under the Ocean is a campaign ultimately seeking to BAN Plastic Straws.

 “Why straws?” you ask, well, if you think straws might seem like a small, insignificant piece of plastic to be concerned about when we could be focusing on larger items like plastic bags or bottles, think again. Over 10 000 000 plastic straws are used in Australia every single day.

That’s:

  • 10 million bits of plastic waste produced every day that can’t be recycled. As Polypropylene – the type of plastic used in straws – is not processed by most recycling facilities.
  • 10 million more pieces of plastic entering our oceans or contributing to landfill.

 

but it doesn’t have to be this way.

As a society, we actually have no need for plastic straws. There are alternate, biodegradable and eco-friendly options already in existence, but it seems they’re overlooked because they’re slightly more expensive.

FACT: Some biodegradable straws can decompose within 35 days, while plastic straws can take 200 years, and even then never fully break down.

Still not convinced?

FACT: Plastic marine pollution is responsible for the death of over 100,000 sea mammals and one million seabirds every year through starvation, ingestion or entanglement from ocean plastics.

 Did that convince you?

How about the fact that: there’s an estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic spread throughout the world’s ocean already, increasing by 8 tones every year – the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic every minute worldwide.

In fact, it is estimated that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish, but, like I said before, it doesn’t have to be this way.

 

So, I hear you asking, what difference will banning plastic straws make?

While straws and stirrers are only one of the top 10 items found in the ocean, banning them would set a precedent for further legislative action against disposable plastic. 

Make the change, say no to straws #StrawNoMore #Sipitdontsuckit

 

KF