What a Load of Rubbish

Rubbish – Plastic Rubbish.  It’s everywhere and if you haven’t heard about the debate raging as to it’s negative impact on the environment, you must be living with your head in a plastic bag!

This month is #plasticfreejuly and it is a global initiative to help people to reduce their reliance on single use plastic products, moving towards more ecologically friendly and sustainable alternatives.

What’s the problem, I hear you say?  We recycle our plastic.  It goes in that super easy black (plastic) rubbish bin with the yellow lid and I put it out for collection every fortnight.  Don’t tell me that I’m not doing my bit…every piece of plastic recycled is a piece of plastic not in the environment, right?!?  Well, sadly no…

Even though your actions to recycle the plastic that you use are well-intentioned, unfortunately the fact is that much of the plastic produced does NOT end up being recycled.  Let’s take plastic bags and just ONE example.

Just today in the New Zealand media are reports that 1/3 of turtles found dead on our beaches have ingested plastic – white, translucent plastic that looks all the world like a jellyfish to a turtle – which blocks up their intestinal tract and causes them to suffer a slow and agonising death.  Worse still, in parts of South America 100% of turtles found dead on the beach have plastic waste in their guts (read the article HERE).

On top of that, according to a recent article by Greenpeace, “The global production of plastic waste has increased dramatically over recent years. It is estimated that plastic constitutes 60-80% of all marine litter and is increasing at an alarming rate. The highest proportion of plastic demand is used for packaging (eg 39.9% in Europe) much of it for single-use products. “An estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic enter the ocean globally each year from 192 coastal countries across the world. ”

Oh, and then there are plastic bottles!  In this startling article by The Guardian just last month they offer some truly horrifying facts:

  • The amount of plastic produced in a year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity
  • In 2015, consumers in China purchased 68.4bn bottles of water and in 2016 this increased to 73.8bn bottles, up 5.4bn.
  • Plastic production is set to double in the next 20 years and quadruple by 2050
  • Humans produce almost 20,000 plastic bottles every second
  • by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish
  • people who eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic every year

Scared yet?

The numbers and the impacts are staggering.  So staggering in-fact that it is completely understandable that you may feel absolutely powerless to make any difference at all.

Well, let’s think about this for a minute.  True, you may not have the power on your own to change government policy, alter the actions of manufacturers or marketers, or even influence your family and neighbours.  But you are not alone, and you have more power than you realise – much more!

It may seem very noble (and you pat yourself on the back regularly at how wonderful your actions are) to recycle plastic that comes your way.  But imagine how different things would be if you stopped using plastic at all.  What would be the impact of THAT kind of action?

All well and good – we can wax lyrical about what we should or shouldn’t do.  But at the end of the day words are just words and the only power comes with action.  This month I want to arm you with information, encouragement, tips and tricks for how you can reduce your plastic footprint on the planet.  And I am not talking about putting everything you purchase into glass jars (although that’s not a bad thing to aim for at all!!!).  I am talking about how you can make mini-actions every single day that add up and send a message to the world about what you are prepared to tolerate.  Actions that you CAN do every time you go out/stay in/make purchases.  Actions that you can easily show others and that they can follow.

As I say, you are not alone in this fight.  And make no mistake – this IS a fight.  It is a fight for the future of our planet, our people, our flora and fauna.  It is a fight for our very survival.  If you watched all those sci-fi movies about how we destroyed our planet and how we have to flee to space to survive, and thought ‘what a load of rubbish’…well you were right!  It is a load of rubbish – plastic rubbish and it is VERY real.

 Follow me on Facebook for daily challenges, tips and tricks as well as information to help you make REAL changes this #plasticfreejuly.  And let’s make changes that last well beyond this month…it’s time we all stood up and choose to be counted…you can also join the charge over at Plastic Free July so check it out.

I will also be guest contributor at iTreadLightly this month – an amazing new community of planet positive people who choose to work together to make lasting contributions to our shared humanity – and who focus on care for the environment as a platform for doing just that.  I would love you to join us there



plastic bottle beach
Plastic Bottles are everywhere (The Guardian)
plastic bottle sorting
sorting plastic bottles in China (The Guardian)
Turtles NZ plastic
Dan Godey, Massey University, with a turtle that died from plastic ingestion (stuff.co.nz)
Turtles NZ plastic stomach
Some of the plastic recovered from dead turtles found on NZ beaches (Stuff.co.nz)
plastic free action chart
Where to start? Start here with easy actions to reduce plastic in your life (plasticfreejuly.org)
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