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There is so much talk in the media and on social platforms about us humans needing to make a change. Needing to reduce our plastic waste, needing to reduce our green house gases. But there isn’t much talk on how to make those changes. The talk centres around big changes and our planet being swamped with plastic pollution. I don’t know about you but those words sure as hell put me off doing anything. Change can be daunting enough but when people tell me a change needs to be big…. I’m sitting down and doing ziltch! But we need to remember it’s the little changes that make the big difference.


“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. From remote islands, to the Arctic, nowhere is untouched. If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish.”


When talking about Plastic pollution it can seen daunting and scary to know where to start. But it is the small changes that make the big difference and together we can reduce our plastic waste and save our oceans and planet #ecofriendly #reducewaste #saynotoplastic

It’s not up to us….

One of the issues I have with a lot of the news articles that cover the plastic pandemic we have caused, is that they highlight what governments and politicians are doing. Well, I guess that is great in many ways. These are the people that can make permanent changes to systems and practices. They can hold companies accountable for the plastic they use and produce, if it comes to that (and it probably already should have). However, it makes it seem like it isn’t up to us to do anything. As if we can just sit back and let the big corporations make the changes on our behalf. Now in some cases this may happen, such as MacDonalds changing their straws to paper straws (I will touch on this more later as I still have a bit of beef with this one). Wonderful, a change has been made and we didn’t need to do anything. Even the politicians didn’t need to do anything so I bet they are laughing their pants off in the back of their big diesel fuelled, chauffeur driven Mercedes.


“Straws are one of those things that people feel passionately about, and rightly so, and we’re moving those straws behind the front counter.”


The thing is, politicians lie. We know this, it isn’t news and it isn’t a revelation. So why do we insist on believing that they will do anything at all? Now, they might. And I suspect a few will genuinely try. But once plastic waste stops being the buzz word of the moment so will their empty promises.

Plastic Bag Tax

In 2015 a plastic bag tax was introduced in England (and now the whole UK), this meant that to have a plastic bag from any retail outlet, with more than 250 employees, you had to pay 5p per bag. There was outrage. How could the government dictate this? What are we supposed to use instead?

People failed to realise that a huge number of people were already using a ‘bag for life’. They are bigger so you could get one small shop in a single bag rather than five or six. They are sturdier than the plastic bags, so you were less concerned about a bottle dropping out of the bottom just as you got home. All people had to do was invest in a couple more bags for life and remember to take them to the shop. It really wasn’t going to be a drama.


“The 5p charge on single-use plastic bags in England has contributed to a reduction of nearly 90% in their use, the government said.”


I frequent supermarkets all too often, and I assure you, someone who has done their weekly shop and not used reusable bags stands out much more than someone who has used their reusable Waitrose bags in a Sainsbury’s supermarket (oh the horror).

And just to prove that that one single, quite insignificant change has had an impact a recent study was released that shows plastic bag use has dropped by nearly 90% since the introduction of the 5p tax. Because of this there are plans to extend the tax to all retail outlets.

Bring it on, I say!

When talking about Plastic pollution it can seen daunting and scary to know where to start. But it is the small changes that make the big difference and together we can reduce our plastic waste and save our oceans and planet #ecofriendly #reducewaste #saynotoplastic

Straws

Straws are the next big thing people want to tackle. And rightly so after images of turtles with straws stuck up their noses have been going viral. It is estimated that 8 billion straws are used in the UK each year and that in the US 500 million straws are used A DAY! Those are mind boggling numbers that I can’t even begin to comprehend.


“You use a straw for 10 minutes, and it never goes away.” -Diana Lofflin, founder of StrawFree.org


This brings me back to my MacDonalds beef. MacDonalds have highlighted this and say that their customers have asked not to be given straws but instead would like to have to ask for them. Great. This should, hopefully, greatly reduce the number of straws used. However, MacDonalds, as well as some other outlets and companies, have taken the step to change from plastic to paper straws. In many ways this is a good thing as it reduces the plastic waste. But haven’t we been here before?  You know, with the trees? I mean, seriously, have we learnt nothing from history. And seriously recent history at that! We know huge amounts about WW2 in the 1940’s but have we seriously forgotten the rainforest damage we have and are still causing in recent times? Paper straws may be the start but they are far from the answer… We could all just sip our drinks like bloody adults. Just saying.

It’s The Little Changes That Make The Big Difference

I am aware this is getting a little ranty and preachy and I really don’t want that to be the essence of this post, so bare with me whilst I rein it in a bit. Politicians and big corporations are not going to make the big changes for us. It is up to us. So instead of thinking about them as big changes think of it like this…..

As an Average Joe reading this blog, perhaps you don’t use that many straws a week or even a year. What difference can an Average Joe make? Lets assume you use an average of one straw a week. Thats 52 straws a year. So it would be reasonable to assume that you could easily live without those 52 straws in your life. Not much compared to the 8 billion mentioned above is it? It wouldn’t make much difference would it?  Can you sense a ‘but’ coming?

Some figures….

BUT think about this: there are an estimated 1.03 billion people living in the first world. It is safe to assume that not all of those people are going to eradicate their plastic straw use but let’s live in a positive world and say that 40% do. Obviously some people will use more straws than others, but for the sake of argument lets assume everyone just uses 52 straws a year (a gross underestimation I suspect). If 40% of the first world population stopped using 52 straws a year that is 7923077 straws a year. Now that is HUGE! That is nearly 8 million straws.

You could even argue that if the whole of the first world population gave up just 52 straws a year thats 198 076 923 less straws a year. One hundred and ninety eight million seventy six thousand and nine hundred and twenty three less straws per year. That’s progress alone right?

Taking all these enormous figures into account it is safe to say that there are many people that use more than 52 straws a year. So if all those people stopped using single use straws all together than a huge change has been made. This is how it’s the little changes that make the big difference. Not so small now all the Average Joes have made a change, is it?

When talking about Plastic pollution it can seen daunting and scary to know where to start. But it is the small changes that make the big difference and together we can reduce our plastic waste and save our oceans and planet #ecofriendly #reducewaste #saynotoplastic

We Have Made Changes Before

It is easy to forget that we, as society, demanded these changes in the first place. The supermarket was born from the desire of convenience. My Grandmother remembers shopping in green grocers and butchers, having to select everything individually before heading home with a hessian tote bag or bike basket full to the brim. She remembers the birth of the big supermarkets where people could finally get all their weekly needs in one place. These supermarkets have been so successful because they have listened to the demands of us over the years. Average Joes. We loved having it all under one roof but now we wanted it all prepackaged. Why stand and wait for Ethel from next door to finish meticulously weighing out her potatoes and apples for the week when the supermarket can bag them up in prepackaged kilo bags for us? A quick, convenient pick up and run so we don’t have to slow down our busy lives. We asked and the supermarkets answered. If we start asking for less packaging and opting for individual items over prepackaged than supermarkets will listen. Their survival depends on it.

When talking about Plastic pollution it can seen daunting and scary to know where to start. But it is the small changes that make the big difference and together we can reduce our plastic waste and save our oceans and planet #ecofriendly #reducewaste #saynotoplastic

The Future

The future is down to us. Not the large corporations or politicians that shout loudest for your votes. You and me, Average Joes. It is easy to forget the power us Average Joes have, but collectively we are more powerful than any government in any universe. If we all start changing one thing, huge ripples will be caused. If we can learn to block out all the noise and off putting propaganda, we can make huge changes as a collective by making small changes as individuals. We need to be proud to be Average Joes and we need to realise the clout we truly have in this world. Because if you ask me, it’s the small changes that make the big difference.

If you want to know what else you can do to help with the plastic problem and our oceans check out this useful article from the BBC’s Blue Planet.

Also check out my post on Eco Friendly Household Products to reduce some of the unnecessary chemicals we use everyday HERE. And see the small changes I have made at home that are making a big difference to our waste HERE.

When talking about Plastic pollution it can seen daunting and scary to know where to start. But it is the small changes that make the big difference and together we can reduce our plastic waste and save our oceans and planet #ecofriendly #reducewaste #saynotoplastic

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23 Comments

  1. June 19, 2018 / 12:37 pm

    A really interesting post – highlighting many issues relating to pollution and the amount of stupid plastic we use and let out into our world. It’s great companies are starting to try and change their packaging and eradicating the use of plastic straws. Hopefully small changes will add up to make a bigger difference… we can hope anyway…

  2. June 19, 2018 / 1:50 pm

    It’s great to hear that the plastic bag tax has had that much impact! You’re so right, if we all do our small bits we could make a big impact on the amount of plastic in the world. We’ve made some simple swamps and we don’t really miss plastic at all!

  3. June 19, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    So glad you are raising awareness about this. Plastic pollution is a major issue and can often be avoided x

  4. June 20, 2018 / 7:10 am

    A fabulous post, this! We’re such a throw-away disposable society and things really do need to change..

  5. June 20, 2018 / 7:37 pm

    I’m really pleasantly surprised that plastic bag tax has had such a positive impact!! A great blog full of passion, it’s the little changes that will make a big impact.

  6. Wendy
    June 20, 2018 / 8:00 pm

    This post is ah-maze-ing and needs to be read by EVERYONE! It definitely is the small things that make the big changes and those figures tou have mentioned speak volumes. I never buy plastic bags any more and don’t put fresh fruit and veg in plastic bags anymore either, I know it’s not much but I’m making a difference, even if it is a very small one xx

  7. June 20, 2018 / 10:04 pm

    Great post. I never believe a word politicians say and think it’s down to ordinary people to make the significant changes. I’m looking into metal straws and bamboo toothbrushes as a starting point. I do wish there were paper degradable bags for fruit and veg in shops instead of plastic!

  8. June 21, 2018 / 2:40 pm

    The plastic bag issues, we do have some trolley bags we take with us every time we shop.. When it comes to Straws, I do see a bigger issue.. Having a straw in your drink when pulling away from McD’s is something you cannot do with out. When you go out, having a metal or reusable straw is not something you are going to be thinking about when you head out the door.. Having my drink in the cup holder with a straw, is safer me and other drivers. Being able to drink safely while driving is my main concern if there was no straw. It would mean finding a safe place to pull over and have a drink is NOT always easy when most town centres have no stopping zones (ours does). The Straw issue may rumble on for awhile. I do agree that the plastic issue is not all of our own making and corporations do need now take more responsibility.

    Thanks for Sharing

    John M

  9. June 21, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    I was so late to the environmental concern party but I am on board now and this plastic stuff needs sorting. Great that you are showing us the way #ThursdayTeam

  10. June 22, 2018 / 12:20 am

    One of my local grocery stores switched from plastic to paper. I still remember when they ditched the paper bags because of the trees that were being cut down for that. Now we are going back? And oh yeah, here if you use one you have to pay for it. It’s only 10 cents though and most people in my town are big into helping the planet so we bring our own bags but it does make me ask this question often about the paper bags. I didn’t know about McDonald’s switching their straws and I agree with you. We are basically switching from one planet killer to another. Why haven’t we come up with a better solution by now that DOESN’T threaten the planet? Great post! You reminded me why I stopped using plastic in the first place.

  11. June 22, 2018 / 6:06 am

    So true. Every little bit helps. As a society we have been spoiled with convenience and the straws are one of those small conveniences that seemed very useful at the start but we don’t really need. I know we live in a fast paced world now where we multitask but honestly, when I was young, I was taught to sit at the table while eating. If I cried because I wanted to do something else too while eating – tough. This fast paced world we’ve created comes with such a big price – people aren’t as healthy and the same for this world we live in. We need to start making better choices. #thursdayteam

  12. June 25, 2018 / 8:11 am

    I agree with most everything in here except for the paper straw. Here in America we have huge swaths of land dedicated to paper farms. Trees grown specifically for cutting down and converting to paper products These farms are able to more than quadruple their production without much effort, and they are eager to do so because these areas of the country have been living hand to mouth once the plastic production almost put them out of business. I think every first world country knows that cutting a forest down can never happen again, but sustainable tree farms are possible and we’re proof of it. Plus, many countries already have tree farms they don’t really consider, Christmas trees are grown just to be cut down! #bigpinklink

    • Winnettes
      Author
      June 29, 2018 / 10:20 am

      This is fascinating! And I take it back, I hadn’t thought about it that way before. I know there are places dedicated to producing organic, ethic palm oil and I guess these things go hand in hand. And if this can boost local economy at the same time then thats brilliant!

  13. June 25, 2018 / 9:55 am

    Paper straws are a start … Washable, reusable cups with straws are available. If they gave a discount on drinks for those that use them that would encourage people to make the switch. They could even sell them!

  14. June 25, 2018 / 1:49 pm

    A point well made. Those numbers are really significant. I think that so many people have the ‘but what difference can I make’ sticking point but this really shows what can be done. I don’t actually use straws at all but sometimes when we go out (on those rare parenting occasions) I am given a straw. I can start making the point to return it and explain why and maybe this will help to alter someone else’s mentality too. I am off to consider what other little things I can do on the same vane. Thanks. #BigPinkLink

  15. June 25, 2018 / 7:04 pm

    Some fantastic ideas on how to cute down and waste. Thanks for sharing X #bigpinklink

  16. June 25, 2018 / 8:43 pm

    Why oh why do we need to drink to of a straw! Mykids and I don’t use straws at home, so totally don’t need one just because we’re in a fast food outlet! I agree that just a few small steps can make such a difference. Love this post and I’m happy if you want a slight rant, as we all need to hear what we’ve done and are still doing to this planet of ours#thursdayteam

  17. June 25, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    I think that the posts on environmental matters will change the world and quite possibly save it in time so well done for being on eof the pioneers in this field and for helping me and hence my children learn. #BigPinkLink

  18. June 26, 2018 / 3:05 pm

    I think that we all can chip in and do a bit to help if not a lot. Some of this is a conscious lifestyle choice. Like not buying brand new all the time. #ThursdayTeam

  19. June 27, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    Brilliant post and something I believe everyone should read. Totally agree we should drink our drinks like adults!!

  20. July 1, 2018 / 6:47 pm

    I love this and totally agree that there really is no need for a straw!! My kids don’t have straws at home and certainly don’t need them when we eat out, but if they are offered they’ll take them! Thank you for hosting #bigpinklink with me!

  21. July 2, 2018 / 6:02 am

    It’s so important to raise awareness about it. It’s so scary. Our kid school are teaching them about it at the moment. #bigpinklink

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