If you can’t reuse it, refuse it!
On this #WorldEnvironmentDay the big focus is plastic. Plastics are fantastic materials that can be used for all sorts of things. They can made into different shapes, they can be hard, soft, flexible, rough, smooth, opaque, transparent, strong, durable, waterproof, they can be any colour and they never go rusty! Just have a look at all of the things in your house that are made of plastic (0r a least partly).
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news though. Most plastics take a very long time (hundreds of years) to break down. That’s not too bad if you buy something and use it for a long time but if you use it and throw it away it will add to the mountain of plastic that is just not going away. It’s in landfill sites, in the oceans, in fish’s tummies, on beaches and all around us. That’s really sad.
So what can we do? Just remember the three Rs….Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
REDUCE: this is the most important one. It’s best to use less plastic in the first place. Could you use something else? Do you really need it anyway? Try to choose things that have as little packaging as possible. If companies realise that people won’t buy their products if they are overly packaged, they will reduce it. You can even get your grown ups to remind the government how important you think this is by signing this petition by Friends of the Earth. DO ONE THING: stop using drinking straws or get a reusable one.
REUSE: Try to only buy reusable plastics…and then make sure you reuse them! Can you use old tubs to keep things in? Can you carry your packed lunch in reusable boxes instead of plastic bags? Remember, it doesn’t need to be you that reuses the things, can you pass them on to someone else when you’re done? Take care of your toys and donate them to charity shops or even sell them when you have grown out of them. DO ONE THING: use a refillable water bottle and make sure you always remember it on days out. There’s no point buying a refillable bottle and then buying more bottles because you have forgotten it!
RECYCLE: This is the one that we are usually pretty good at BUT it should only be a last resort. Plastics aren’t easy to recycle so lots of what goes into the recycling bins won’t actually be used. Really try to make sure that you are reducing and reusing plastics as much as possible first. DO ONE THING: volunteer to sort out the recycling at home. Make sure plastic film is taken off trays as this can mean that a whole lorry load will go to landfill if they can’t recycle it.
Would you like to know more about World Environment Day? You can visit the website for news stories from across the world on how people are finding new ways to reduce their use of plastic.
National Geographic have lots of information about how much plastic we use and what we can do about it. A million plastic bottles a minute is pretty hard to imagine.
You can even get involved in a huge science project with the Litterati app. You can help clean up your local area, while also gathering information which will show which big companies are the worst for making litter.