The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK’s leading charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife. For over thirty years MCS has worked to ensure our seas are healthy, pollution free and protected. The charity has been the voice for all the fascinating creatures that live beneath the waves, for our breath-taking coastlines, for those who make a sustainable living from the sea and for anyone who loves our beautiful beaches. In this post, MCS shares why everyone should say no to single use plastic.
"Just recently, 15,000 volunteers picked up 305,958 bits of litter from UK beaches during our annual Great British Beach Clean. That’s a whole lot of litter and most of it was tiny pieces of plastic that had once been bigger – bottles, bags, cartons, containers – items that have for decades been swirling around in the currents, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces but never entirely going away.
A lot of people are more aware of the plastic crisis we’re in. It’s not surprising that the Word of the Year (Collins Dictionary says) for 2018 is “single-use”, we’ve heard it so many times in the news and on our screens. It comes from the shocking fact that much of the plastic things we use and turn to rubbish are used just once.
Single-use plastic – our friend for so long, is now the enemy. More and more of us are using re-usable water bottles and coffee cups, many of us are refusing straws or not being offered them at the bar at all, we’re converts to bags for life, we can no longer buy gels and potions with microbeads in and cotton bud sticks with plastic stems are becoming as rare as hens' teeth.
There’s so much more we can do! Buy things to last. Ditch fast fashion. Microfibres – tiny synthetic threads shed from cheap clothing – are ending up in our seas. Buy clothes made from natural fibres. Go retro, go second-hand but don’t go disposable. Stopping the plastic tide isn’t all about bottles and bags – a bit of thinking outside the box can go a long way to turn the plastic tide.
Another word that means much the same thing as “single-use” is “disposable”, found on the labels of goods like cleaning wipes, nappies, cameras, razors, food pouches, cutlery, party dresses, raincoats, tents… the list goes on, and seems to be growing.
We really need to see much less new plastic being made and sold, especially for items that are used for a short time, or hardly used at all – coffee can be stirred with a steel teaspoon, and lemonade sipped without a straw. Disposable just isn't disposable!"