Ethical instalment: Replacing plastic bags

Here in the UK, the government imposed a 5p charge on plastic bags last October.

Despite some concerns it caused more than six months ago, figures now show we are using almost 6 billion less plastic bags (in 2014, over seven billion plastic bags were given out by England's seven main supermarket chains, but this year shoppers are on course to use around one billion).

 Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has hailed the figures as "fantastic news for all of us," saying, "It will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner and future generations won’t be saddled with mountains of plastic sat taking hundreds of years to breakdown in landfill sites."

The 5p charge has also raised more than £29 million for good causes, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a report published today.

Dr Sue Kinsey of the Marine Conservation Society (MCSUK), a charity which works to protect Britain's seas, shores and wildlife, called the figures a "significant reduction that will benefit the environment as a whole, and our sea life in particular."

See more here.


Whether you are in the UK or somewhere totally different, reducing your plastic waste is a key part of reducing your carbon footprint.

Plastic is non-biodegradable and therefore lasts a lot longer than much of our other waste (up to 1,000 years longer).

// Plastic pollution involves the accumulation of plasticproducts in the environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, or humans. Plastics that act aspollutants are categorized into micro-, meso-, or macrodebris, based on size.//

Most of the plastic now found in the sea actually comes from land and is not just thrown over board. It is now thought that 80 percent of marine litter is either swept in from the coastline or carried to rivers from the streets during heavy rain via storm drains and sewer overflows.

There is actually a new film set to be released this year titled 'A Plastic Ocean' which you can find out more about here

Plastic is cheap and is often the most cost effective way to produce items, which is brilliant for businesses (of course) but it is bad for our health, the environment, animals and scenery.

But there are lots of ways you can start to reduce you plastic waste, here are my favourite five:

1. Stop buying water while you are on the go.

By carrying a reusable bottle in your bag you will very quickly reduce the amount of plastic you invest in, especially if you typically by one bottle a day (most commuters do).

This will also save you money and show big companies where the demand is (we need the demand to be more environmentally friendly solutions).

If you are worried about tap water, you can get a bottle with a built in filter (Brita Water Bottle Filtration System).  Most places in the UK have totally safe tap water and in fact, most offices and educational institutions have water dispensers.

2. Purchase more items secondhand.

Where you can, buy toys, electronic gadgets and accessories in charity shops or bidding sites.

3. Buy in bulk.

Consider the product-to-packaging ratio of items you buy often and select the bigger container instead of buying several smaller ones over time. For example: single yogurts, travel toiletries, small packets of crisps or other snacks.

4. Boycott microbeads.

Microbeads can be found in far too many beauty products, from facial scrubs to toothpaste. As small and harmless as they may look, researchers at Plymouth University found that each time a face wash is used, 94,500 “microbeads” can be released into the oceans.

Microbeads are actually one of the fastest growing forms of marine pollution.

Once eaten by one animal, they can travel up the food chain - yes to your plates. They are full of chemicals and we still do not know the health consequences of consuming them.

A petition by Greenpeace against the use of microbeads in products has been signed by more than 300,000 people. If you haven't signed it, please do here.

You can exfoliate with far more natural things including salt, sugar or oatmeal.

5. Use your voice! Put pressure on manufacturers.

We can all make our own changes buy ultimately it is corporations with the biggest plastic consumption. If you believe a company could be smarter about its packaging, tell them.

It is as easy as sending them a tweet or posting on their Facebook wall nowadays, but you can also call them or send them a letter.

And, if they don't respond or ignore you, do what they will hate the most and buy somewhere else, give your money to a more sustainable competitor.

See relater petitions at the end of this post.

And of course another thing you can do is:

Support a bag tax or ban.

Urge your government to ban plastic bags and such like all together, or like the UK at least make them less desirable.

To replace your plastic bags, an ethical, contemporary way is to invest in a canvas/tote bag.

I recommend Society6 for this because every purchase you make pays an artist.

Society6 showcases hundreds of thousands of artists from around the globe.

Here, they upload and sell their original works as 30+ premium consumer goods from Art Prints to Throw Blankets.

They create, we produce and fulfill, and every purchase pays an artist.

Simple, but huge. Further, we’ve been humbled by the opportunity to foster an international community of incredibly talented creatives. Whether you’re an artist or not, we hope you’ll rally around the same flag we do. Join us in empowering independent artists worldwide.

Find more ways to cut down on your plastic here.


Jess xx

“There is no ‘away’ because plastic is so permanent and so indestructible. When you cast it into the ocean … it does not go away” Sir David Attenborough


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