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FAQ About Plastic - How does plastic end up in the ocean?

My friend posted this picture today of the local canal and it broke my heart 😔 It's spurred me to write this blog to answer some common questions I'm asked about plastic and how it's effecting the planet.

Photo by John Deprieelle. Look at that family of swans trying to make their home out of our plastic waste.
EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF PLASTIC EVER MADE STILL EXISTS

1) WHY CAN I NOT JUST RECYCLE PLASTIC?

This is probably the most common question I'm asked. I think we've been brought up thinking that by throwing something in the recycle bin means it will make a shiny new bottle in no time at all. This is not the case:

  • Only 9% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled - the rest makes it’s way to landfill with many chances for it to escape into the environment and end up in the sea

  • Plastic can only be downcycled, which means they are recycled into something of a lesser value. Most of the time plastic is recycled into a fabric and with a crazy amount of fast fashion, clothing is not recycled as it should be, so that plastic you recycled will now end up in landfill.

2) HOW DOES PLASTIC END UP IN THE OCEAN?

Another very common question and if you don't live by the sea it may seem crazy that any plastic could end up there but you would be surprised...

  • Plastic not being recycled – With only 9% of all plastic ever produced being recycled, the rest makes it’s way to landfill with many chances for it to escape into the environment and end up in the sea.

  • Plastic litter – discarded plastic on beaches &towns can be blown into drainage systems and rivers that end up in the sea. Equally if there is litter in the countryside it can make it's way into rivers which will eventually end up in the ocean.

  • Down our drains – micro beads, baby wipes, tampons & clothing fibers are just a few of the plastics that end up down our drains

  • Industrial leakage – plastics not being disposed of properly and escaping during the production/transportation process.

  • Fishing - fishing nets are made of plastic and are a HUGE polluter in the ocean. Even if you don't buy fish in plastic packaging it's important to find out where your fish came from and how they caught the fish. Without doing this you could still be causing plastic to end up in the ocean by creating the demand for the fish. Best solution - don't eat fish and you're winning!

3) HOW CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

You would be surprised at the amount of times I have been asked this or been 'told' that I alone can not make a difference. It's actually crazy how much difference one person can make and I am a strong believer of this, here's why:

  • By you alone switching out one plastic product in your home, or carrying your own water bottle rather than purchasing plastic bottles can make a HUGE difference. By you making just one change to a plastic free option you will have a MASSIVE amount of plastic from being used and discarded in your life time.

  • By changing the way you shop you are changing the consumer demand. Think about it, if you keep buying the same things from the same brands that use too much plastic on their products, then why would they ever change because their sales show they don't need to?

  • You can lead by example and people will listen - I started out just sharing my plastic free journey and the amount of people that have made changes to plastic free alternatives has been mind blowing!

If you have any other questions please comment below and I will happily answer them!

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© 2018 by Beth Noy - Plastic Freedom

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