Each year, 381 million tonnes of plastic is produced worldwide. This week, over 172,000 people across the UK are taking part the the biggest investigation into household plastic in the hope of pushing the government, supermarkets and companies to tackle the plastic crisis. Every year, the UK uses an estimated five million tonnes of plastic, half of which is packaging, yet only 380,000 tonnes actually gets recycled.
The plastic crisis first noticed back in the late 1960s by scientists conducting plankton studies. Since then, it has been recorded that at least 14 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the sea every year, resulting in the ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. Many marine wildlife mistake plastic debris for food; most then die of starvation due to their stomachs filling with plastic.
Why do we use so much plastic? Plastic is inexpensive to produce, and serves several important functions in our lives, particularly in packaging. Plastic preserves products for longer, which reduces waste by giving people more time to use or consume them before it is no longer suitable to do so. It also protects products from damage during transit, or contamination from moisture, humidity, gases, microorganisms, insects or light.
Here at Tops, we actively make an effort to remove as much plastic from our settings as possible. We removed all single-use plastics, such as straws, gloves, aprons, and single-use nappies and replaced them with sustainable alternatives. In 2017, we learned that glitter was in fact a micro-plastic and was incredibly damaging to the environment. As a result, we banned the use of glitter in our nurseries. Find out more about our glitter ban here. We also switched to using washable and reusable nappies, and we make our own DIY baby wipes.
So how can you get involved? Sign up at the bigplasticcount.com, where you will then be sent a pack containing everything you’ll need for the week. Keep a tally of how much plastic you use between 16th – 22nd May and record your results on the website. These results will be used to give you your own plastic footprint and will reveal what really happens to plastic once it gets thrown away. Once everyone’s results are in, they can be used to push the government into tackling the plastic crisis.
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