The good: “Most plastic bottles used for soft drinks and water are made from polyethylene terephthalate (Pet), which is highly recyclable,” states an article in The Guardian.
The bad: Recycling efforts can’t keep pace. “Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles.”
The ugly: “A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.”
It’s not just bottles, though. Plastic problems are turning up everywhere, from six-pack rings to microbeads and everything in between. A 2016 study discovered plastic in one-third of all fish caught in Britain. That included widespread contamination of cod, haddock, mackerel, shellfish, tuna, mullet, mussels and oysters — and much of that contamination is making its way up the food chain, because these are all fish that end up on our plates.
What can you do to help? Here are a few ideas:
Tips to reduce plastic pollution
- Try to avoid buying drinks in plastic bottles. It’s not going to be easy, but if you look hard enough you can find alternatives that are bottled in glass.
- Skip the straws
- Use a refillable water bottle (in London, they’re creating a network of fountains and bottle-refill stations to cut plastic waste)
- Don’t buy products containing plastic microbeads. Though production has largely been banned now, some still turn up on shelves.
- Take your own reusable bags to the grocery store.
- Look for alternatives to plastic packaging when purchasing goods.
- Reuse whenever possible — take-out food containers can be reused to store sandwiches and leftovers. Milk jugs can become bird feeders. Get creative!
- Ensure plastic products go into the appropriate recycling bin, not the trash bin.
Find more great ways to cut down on plastic use in this recent blog post.