Aaargh, plastic. It’s everywhere. The wild does not love it, the ocean and earth does not love it and neither does this Wild Mummy.
It’s not just a current pet hate, I’ve always disliked plastic. It’s excessively over-used (according to Worldwatch, 299 million tonnes was produced worldwide in 2013) and a major cause of waste and landfill (22-43% ends up in landfill or the ocean acording to the United Nations Environmental Programme)
There are opportunities to collect litter everywhere, the majority of which is plastic and most of which will never disintegrate or rot down.
I also notice that children prefer their toys and home environment to be made of more ‘real’-feeling things that are textured and pliable; toys don’t all need to be shiny, smooth and homogenised.
Ban the Bag
It’s excellent news that since the UK plastic bag levy began in October 2015, our use of bags has dropped by an alleged 85%. However, we still have a long way to go to de-plasticise our wild spaces properly.
More jellyfish that look like plastic bags
I collected this bagful of plastic bags on a 2 mile beach walk last week. It was pretty disheartening since I could only clear a 2 metre-wide strip on a ¼ mile wide beach, and every filthy bag reminded me of the stunning turtle photo (above) that’s doing the Facebook rounds. Compare the photos – it’s easy to see how marine creatures mistake plastic bags for jellyfish which they can then eat, causing suffocation and drowning. And that’s just one aspect of the plastic problem.
Reduce Plastic at Home
We can all take little steps to make a difference. It might seem futile to think that each of us as individuals can make a difference but that’s all it takes; every one of us making small changes to the way we live. It really is easy.
Over the years I’ve done my bit to reduce our plastic use at home. Here are some of our simple plastic-free changes: –
- Avoid plastic toys – from day 1 we tried to buy ethical, sustainably produced wooden or natural-made toys where possible. Of course we still have plastic things, just fewer of them and we recycle and pass things on
- Use biodegradable dog poop bags – a downside of the push to de-poop our streets so we always buy biodegradable or recycle old bread bags!
- Recycle as much packaging and waste as possible
- Take our own shopping bags (e.g. Bags for Life), just like our parents did
- Don’t drop litter, and pick it up if we do
- Litter pick when outdoors, provided it is hygienic to do so, especially on beaches
- Swap plastic kitchen containers for glass, tin or biodegradable materials
- Buy food & goods without packaging e.g. organic veg box, loose fruit & veg
- Replace plastic lunch boxes and bottles with eco-wraps and metal containers
- Choose plastic and microbead-free goods. Waitrose have just pledged to stop using products containing microbeads – get a list of other companies here
Teabags, Toothpaste and Microbeads
Yes, incredibly, most teabag companies admit that their teabags contain a type of plastic to either seal the bags or as part of the lining. I laughed out loud on reading this but it is absolutely true. Try old-fashioned loose leaf tea and a cute teapot instead. SIGN Greenpeace’s petition to help ban microbeads
D’you know what? Children love collecting litter. We’ve done two litter picks in the last few months along a stream near our village.
It seems that wellies & waterproofs = wonderful wading = happy Kids of the Wild!
The irony is that the rubbish is collected in plastic bin bags – next time we’ll take a box.
Huge thanks to Troy Mayne of Oceanic Imagery for the use of his two stunning turtle images (which put mine to shame!) and to Greenpeace for the ‘microbeads in plankton’ image. Watch this space for Troy’s forthcoming article on diving with children and underwater photography.