What is World Environment Day? What is World Oceans Day?
World Environmental Day is a salient occasion for the United Nations (UN) to promote worldwide awareness and action in order to protect our environment. The theme for World Environmental Day 2018 is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. World Oceans Day, coordinated by The Ocean Project, states that the 2018 focus is to 'prevent plastic pollution and encourage solutions for a healthy ocean'. When we saw that both World Environment Day (June 5th) and World Oceans Day (June 8th) were taking a shared focus on plastic reduction for 2018, we couldn't not be a part of it.
Pass on Plastic
With news stories such as the pilot whale dying off southern Thailand at the weekend, having vomited up five plastic bags during the attempted rescue mission (it was found in the post-mortem to have has 80 bags in its stomach), and the nappies, sanitary products and surgical masks washed into the sea in a shipping container accident in the same weekend, do we have a choice but to consider our plastic consumption? As a studio we are always looking at ways to reduce our waste and our general environmental impact. Single-use plastic is something that we have awareness of, particularly in our personal lives, but passing on plastic for Tuesday really helped to highlight the plastics that we'd been using quite mindlessly. Some of us started to engage with the #PassonPlastic hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to commit to making changes.
Let’s talk Plastic Pollution.
Plastics that are commonly found in our environment are:
- Plastic drinking bottles
- Plastic bottle caps
- Food wrappers (crisp packets, coffee bags, bread bags)
- Plastic carrier bags
- Other types of plastic bags
- Tea bags (plastic-free options are becoming more readily available)
- Plastic lids (milk / juice carton lids)
- Straws and stirrers
- Take-away containers
- Cigarette butts
It’s undeniable that plastic has various benefits — the material is cheap, lightweight and easy to produce. However, plastic is harmful, for our environment, economies and for our own health.
Most plastics aren't degradable and only a small proportion is recyclable — plastics are slowly broken down into smaller particles, called microplastics. It’s even more difficult to remove microplastics from the ocean. When microplastics are ingested by fish, they find their way into our own food chain. Studies show that microplastics have been found in table salt, and in 90% of bottled water and 83% of tap water. As highlighted by the BBC article about the pilot whale that we mention above; whales, turtles, dolphins, and other sealife frequently mistake plastic bags for food and ingest them, which is harmful to their lives. With 13 million tonnes of plastic discharged into our oceans every year, plastic pollution is one of the most challenging environmental issues of our era. Hence, it’s crucial for government, business and individuals to tackle this challenge together. It’s probably impossible to get rid of all plastics but we can cut down single-use plastic and reduce the plastic waste we generate.
Be part of the Solution
We can help tackle plastic pollution, not only on awareness days but every day. We shared this video on our Twitter feed and tagged some of the team to see what small change they'd commit to making in a bid to pass on plastic:
In the studio, we've committed to:
- Switching to refillable cleaning supplies, turning single-use plastic items into multiple-use items, cutting down on the amount of plastic we purchase.
- Our toilet roll is made from sustainable bamboo and comes in recyclable plastic film (did you know that you can recycle plastic film in many supermarkets?).
- We gather up non-recyclable plastics and use them to create eco-bricks; purposefully reusing to benefit communities, rather than going to landfill.
- Our goal is to recycle 100% of the recyclable waste produced in the studio by 2019 and to reduce the amount of single-use plastics we purchase by 50% by 2020. (We'd say 100% but we're only human).
- Replacing regular plastic refuse sacks with biodegradable alternatives to reduce the amount of non-degradable waste we send to landfill.
At home, many of us are making small switches such as moving from liquid soaps, shower gels, and shampoo to bar soap, buying loose fruit / veg, and using reusable water bottles or coffee cups. What small switch could you commit to?