It’s hard to ignore the effects of our obscene obsession with buying stuff. We Brits spend £358,000,000,000 (the zeroes mean billion) in the shops each year. We buy food which goes uneaten, clothes that never get worn and household items which just sit around and gather dust. All of it just wasted* .
Our shopping habits are having a detrimental effect on our beautiful planet Earth and as much as everybody says that they care about the effects of modern living on our planet, for many people it is just virtue signalling, empty words and hollow sentiment. Because, as soon as they hit the shops, they forget what they claim to believe and they just spend, spend, spend without thinking of the future outcomes.
Plastic Really Is A Problem
OK, unless you have been living under a rock, I am sure you have heard that plastic is hot topic right now. The news, our TV shows, social media, newspapers, and the good old-fashioned word of mouth have all risen awareness of the plastic pollution crisis that our planet is facing.
Plastic pollution can now be found on every single beach in the world. We buy copious amounts of plastic. Our food is wrapped in plastic, toys are made of plastic, our furniture is plastic, cars: plastic, healthcare products: plastic, even our bloody clothes are made of PLASTIC! Every single day another 8 million pieces of plastic pollute our oceans. It is currently estimated that there are around 5.25 trillion macro and micro plastic pieces floating around in the world’s oceans. Our sea life is suffocating (quite literally) in the stuff.
Next time you go to the beach, can you do something special for me? Pick up just 5 pieces of plastic (or other forms of trash) and take it to a nearby bin.
If every person who visits a UK beach did this during each visit, tonnes of rubbish would be collected yearly. Picking up just 1 bottle DOES make a difference – there are 150 plastic bottles laying on the beach for each mile of coastline at the moment.
Next time you are at the shops, ask yourself if you really need that plastic item. Fruit and Veg can be bought loose and placed into a canvas bag. Your local greengrocer or market trader will quite happily see you take home your goods in your own bags!
Supply & Demand
Supply and demand is another huge reason our beautiful planet is struggling. Some people grab a whole handful of plastic straws from Mac Donald’s each time they go. Why? Because they’re free and it saves them from buying more in the supermarket. We’ve all done it! I’ve done it (years ago before I woke up to the grim reality of supply and demand) and I bet you’ve done it too. Those straws will inevitably end up sitting in a cupboard at home, or in the footwell of your car, until they appear so gross that you decide to never use them and they just end up in the bin. Whether you use them or bin them, those plastic straws will still be on this earth long after we are dead and buried. Even if they break down into small parts, that plastic straw will still exist for the next 500 years. We use 8.5 billion plastic straws per year in the UK… each one hanging around for 5 more centuries.
If we stopped demanding, the shops wouldn’t stock them, and the manufacturers wouldn’t make them. The supply would no longer be there. In turn, factory emissions wouldn’t be created, carbon footprints would be reduced and you wouldn’t be hording so much unneeded crap.
It’s not just our sea life that is failing to thrive due to our yucky plastic and trash habits. Our Great British wildlife is being affected too. Unprecedented levels of deforestation, industrialisation and the destruction of natural habitats for the sake of new builds, shopping areas and ever expanding towns and cities is seriously putting our beautiful wildlife in danger. The UK has lost more than 16% of all animals, birds and fish since the 1970’s**.
The State Of Nature report has worryingly predicated that the UK could see more than 1 in 10 of our species extinct in the near future. The most affected animals due to habitat loss include hedgehogs, great crested newts, grasshoppers and sand lizards. What are we doing to our amazing countryside?
Trash is also polluting our countryside and the impacts of this are huge. Fish are being suffocated due to pollution in our water ways, animals are ingesting litter tossed from cars, pesticides are poisoning every living things, big and small. Bees sadly are the most affected. No bees= no food for us. Bees are pollinators and if plants are not pollinated they cannot produce the food that we eat. If we loose our bee’s you can kiss goodbye to apples and pears, coffee and fruit squash, beans and peas. Oh, and cotton too… So we would be hungry AND naked. Ewww, imagine THAT. (.Y.)
Reuse, Recycle Or Do It Yourself
Our landfills are filling up fast. In 1950 the Earth’s population was 2.5 billion. Today we are exceeding 7 billion people. 7 billion humans create a LOT of waste. That’s 7 billion people that create dirty nappies, food packaging and just a lot of old rubbish. If we can switch to more eco friendly reusable items, or simply buy less we wouldn’t be filling up our landfill sites so quickly. Some people don’t even recycle! That really grinds my gears!
All of the above is very scary but very important. So, what can you do?
Other than reducing what we buy, cutting out (or at least cutting down) on plastic products and buying things second hand (that includes housing!) there are lots of small changes we can make that will have a HUGE affect when it comes to saving our home… planet Earth.
The true aim for us all should be to live waste-free. Reuse as much as you can. We all love a cheeky takeaway, and we are all well aware of those plastic pots that our grub gets delivered in. Don’t throw these away, reuse them as lunchboxes for your child’s dinner. Turn them into useful storage pots or craft supplies. Or, my favourite, use them as plant pots! Once they have been used to death and are no longer useable at all please put them in your recycle bin. Just give them a wash and pop them into the recycle bin so they can be turned into something else useful.
Encourage others to recycle too. If you work in an office that is naff at recycling, ask your boss to order some recycle bins from Glasdon and get the whole work place on board! We recycle so much at home, but it always upsets me when I visit somewhere that doesn’t provide recycling facilities. Offices are notorious!
Think about what you throw away too. If the item still has life left in it, why not list it on Facebook, Gumtree, Shpock or Freecycle as ‘free to a good home’. Charity shops sell lots of different things, so donate to them. If it’s toys or kids clothes ask if your local nursery or Children’s Centre would like them.
Our food chain is strained big time. The booming population means we need to produce more food than ever before. Throw issues such as Brexit into the mix and things get even more complicated. Why not have a go at growing your own food? OK, you may only manage to successfully pluck a handful of carrots from the ground or harvest a small tub of tomatoes, but guess what… you grew it all by yourself! That’s one pack of carrots you never had to buy. Grow them organically and you wont be ingesting harmful chemicals or pesticides used to produce the shop bought stuff either. It makes you feel pretty good having a go at self sufficiency!
Teaching Future Generations
Ultimately THE most important thing we can do for our beautiful planet is to educate ourselves on what is happening around us, make conscious choices and educate our children. They are the future and they need to be aware of what is going on. They can make the change. It’s just sad that they have to fix what mess we created.
Imagine your future great grandchildren never seeing a bumble bee, never hearing a turtle dove or watching a skylark fly above. They may never know what a beach looks like without floating bottles, tampons and the great British takeaway tub.
Your future, our future, can start today. Please share this post to help raise awareness of a very scary future. If we all work together we may not be able to stop the affects from happening all together, but we can slow them down.
- Facts from https://www.retaileconomics.co.uk/library-retail-stats-and-facts.asp
- ** https://findingnature.co.uk/uk-wildlife-species-decreasing-number/
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