The global problem of plastic consumption and its effect on the planet is far from new, yet in recent years, the situation has turned mainstream. While growing awareness is key to create the shift in our human consumption, the next step is the shift to where actual attitudes and actions follow suit. In order to fundamentally change behavioural patterns, research shows we need to feel the impact emotionally or on a personal level. Queue "A Plastic Ocean", the award-winning documentary that has had a quick-fire global impact thanks to the compelling strength and simplicity of the story it weaves in relation to the extent of the plastic problem in our oceans. In Chile, coastal towns have banned plastic bags in response to the film. In some places, such as Bali, beaches awash with plastic show that change can’t come soon enough. With Athena Advisers proud partners of Plastic Oceans in supporting their initiative and raising global awareness, we share 4 quick insights into what to watch for in your everyday and the alternative choices you can make.
4 SIMPLE WAYS TO CHANGE YOUR IMPACT
IN THE CLOSET:
What to know: fashion is the second largest pollutant of the environment after the oil industry, from the manufacturing process to the materials that make up the clothes we wear. Synthetic fibers (think nylon, viscose, polyester, rayon) make up about 60% of the clothes we wear and are often crafted and then discarded as fast-fashion. Even worse, when we wash synthetic fibres, microfibers are released and filter past wastewater treatment systems and find their way into the ocean where they become toxic pills to be consumed by fish which… we then eat.
What can you do? Check the labels before you buy: organic fibres are always the best way to go. To limit the impact of what you already have in your closet, you can wash synthetic clothes in a guppy bag that traps a lot of the fibers. For new purchases, explore raincoat innovators Insane in the Rain, swimwear brand Finch Designs, super chic shoe company Veja Shoes and sunglasses hub Sea2See, all of which make products from recycled ocean plastic.
IN THE TOILETTE
What to know: from make up to moisturiser, the beauty industry is awash with plastic packaging. That’s not all – other key buzzwords to look out for when buying products are microbeads (now banned in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and some US states) and synthetic polymers, which give products a desirable texture yet are essentially like injecting plastic toxins into your skin. No point in yoga and green juices when the bodies largest organ, is being slathered in plastic on a daily basis. For women, another big plastic pollutant comes from feminine hygiene products. Along with the risk to health that comes from internally absorbing plastic off-shoots, conventional pads and tampons are filled with plastic (applicators, packaging, materials in product). On average, a woman throws away 300 of these per year, none of which can be recycled.
What can you do? A planet-friendly alternative to feminine care, moon cups have long been a wonderful alternative for feminine care. Another bonus? You only need to buy one and reuse it every month. Considering a woman spends on average £10 a month on feminine hygiene products, this adds up to a saving of £1200 over a decade. Alternatively, Tampon Tribe is a subscription based feminine hygiene service offering tampons and pads that are 100% plastic free, biodegradable, organic cotton, hypoallergenic and chemical free.
ON THE GO:
What to know: of the top 10 items found in beach clean ups around the world, plastic bottles rank 2nd, closely followed by plastic bags and straws. The average person uses 424 plastic bags a year, of which only 4 get recycled.
What can you do? One of the biggest challenges for the everyday is drinking water, especially when travelling or on-the-go. Often when we are abroad, the good habits we keep at home can slip out the window when bottled water seems like the only option. For the everyday, invest in your own bottle – Hydroflask and Cobo Bottles are favourites. For quality drinking water, we love GOpure Pods, a portable water purification system (for potable water only) that filters out/eliminates impurities in tap water. It lasts for six months which is the equivalent of 2,000 singles use plastic water bottles. Saving the planet and your wallet.
IN THE OFFICE:
What to know: Dell has committed to help keep plastics out of the ocean through processing plastics collected from beaches, waterways and coastal areas and using them as part of a new packaging system for the new XPS 12 2-in 2 laptop globally. The initial pilot will start by keeping 16,000 pound of plastic out of the oceans. These laptops will be made from 100% recycled plastics, 25% of which comes from the oceans.
What to do? Say bye to Apple, or hope that this incentivises the design giant to level its morals with its aesthetics.