DROWNING IN PLASTIC - who is responsible?
HOW DO WE STAY AFLOAT?
Your Place In the Problem
All of us are guilty in plastic pollution. We are all well aware that it takes plastic an awfully long time to decompose, but yet it seems people, in their daily hurry, are unable to take into account what this means. Try and actually consider the fact that every piece of plastic ever made is currently still out there somewhere. It takes so long to break down, that none of it actually has yet. Consider every bottle you’ve ever drank from, every carton you’ve eaten from, every packet you’ve opened, piece of furniture you’ve sat on, appliance you’ve used, and every bag that you’ve disposed of all of the above in..... and that’s just YOU.
The Ocean plastic problem
What Is Wrong
Every minute, worldwide, we buy 1 million plastic bottles, 1 million disposable cups and 2 million plastic bags, and every single one of these seemingly trivial, one-use items will actually outlive its user tenfold. Every minute, a truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the oceans, where it dooms our coral reefs with the diseases carried by bacteria that grow on the plastic. Nowhere is safe, from the icy Arctic to the most remote tropical islands to the very bottom of the Mariana Trench (the deepest point on earth at the bottom of the Pacific), where Newcastle University recently found plastic to have reached for the first time.
There are an estimated 51 trillion pieces of plastic currently polluting our oceans, and to continue dumping it into them at our current rate (8 million tonnes a year) will mean that by 2050, there will be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than fish. And herein lies the problem - this terrible scenario only occurs if we continue at our current rate, yet every year the amount we drop into the sea only ever increases. Is it any wonder that there are giant garbage patches floating atop the water - like the one between Hawaii and California that, at present, is more than three times the size of France?
The biggest indicator of the problem lies with seabirds - which experience the beaches, the shallows and the open oceans depending on wherever you happen to find them in their migration pattern. And the evidence is overwhelming, as they are regularly mistaking plastic for food and innocently eating anything they can get their beaks around. When they should be eating fish and squid, they are eating bottle caps and pen lids.
To make things worse, companies are performing faux social and environmental responsibility for the sake of saving face and utilising a marketing gimmick (see: paper straws that can’t be recycled and are no better for the world than plastic ones). These brands that claim to be making steps in environmental improvement still remain among the biggest perpetrators, just as they always were. SeaPigs is not one of these pretender companies.
How Do We Fix It?
You can be forgiven for thinking that this is a hopeless cause - because there’s every chance that it might be - but this does not mean that efforts should stop to end this insanity. Even if we could dredge all of the plastic from the ocean, what do we do with it then? 2 billion people don’t even have access to waste management anyway, and have been dumping their waste in the sea since time immemorial.
It is clear that the way in which we need to combat this is through big brands and megacorporations finally taking responsibility for the waste that they are creating for themselves. For too long brands have shunned responsibility, and left it as the people’s problem. They think long and hard on making the perfect product, and yet they don’t think at all about getting rid of it at the end of its life.
It has become a hot-topic question of whether the responsibility for waste management should fall to the companies producing plastic waste or the government. Why not both? Why not pass some legislation forcing companies’ hands - clearly they aren’t selfless enough to make a change of their own accord, so they’re going to need encouragement.
Room For Improvement
The plastic problem has reached unprecedented heights (or should we say depths?), and SeaPigs wants to do what it can to help the planet improve - and it starts with taking responsibility. The BBC documentary, Drowning In Plastic, provides a deeply detailed look at the plethora of issues that the planet is facing thanks to plastic, and while some of the figures are damning, all is not yet lost. Environmentalist Liz Bonnin looks at the alternatives to plastic that biodegrade in days, such as leaf wrapping to preserve fruit and veg. Solutions such as these, when explored and developed to their fullest potential, will be some of the key elements of moving forward in a minimal-plastic world.
What We’re Doing
SeaPigs want to do what we can to fix this deeply pressing issue. That’s why we provide every one of our customers with the means to return our products back to us once they’ve surpassed usefulness, so that we can reuse the product ourselves with our future products. The last thing in the world we want is to be taking a stroll along the beach (as we do, regularly) and see one of our discarded products washed ashore. Now, we know we don’t have 100% control over whether or not our customers do this, but to make the prospect more attractive, we offer customers £10 off their next purchase with us if they send an old product back - the SeaPigs guarantee. We guarantee to take responsibility of our products after use, with YOUR HELP.
Find Out More
We were inspired to write this blog followed a watch of Liz Bonnin’s BBC documentary Drowning In Plastic, and we recommend that you give it a watch if this blog has been interesting to you. It covers everything we’ve talked about here and more - from the millions of tonnes of fishing nets lost or dumped at sea every year, and whales getting caught up in new, inescapable plastic fishing nets.
The production and distribution of plastic bottles uses 320 million barrels of oil a year.
Over to You
What do you think about the extent of the plastic problem? Can you see a way out? Have you learned anything new from this blog? Do you think plastic disposal and recycling should be left to governments or corporations? Is more legislation needed? Sound off below or on any of our social media accounts. We love to hear your input.
Thoinks for reading,
Love Our Tiny Blue Dot