OPINION: We must work together to cut plastic use

Leader: Giles Archibald
Leader: Giles Archibald
28 July 2017 3:58PM

A COUPLE of weeks ago I watched a film called Plastic Ocean. It told a horrifying story of how we are destroying the planet by discarding plastic, much of which which ends up in the ocean.

Plastic can be recycled, but if it is not, it is indestructible. Eight million tons a year of plastic is finding its way into the ocean.

Eventually, the plastic breaks down into small particles which can be very dangerous to fish, birds and other sea life. Toxins can attach to the particles of plastic, and if the plastic itself does not kill the fish, the particles of plastic can enter into the human food chain.

Shockingly, plastic itself as a container can potentially be harmful to humans. Recent studies indicate that some types of plastic bottles may possibly be harmful in certain circumstances to human health. (New Statesman article October 2015 has a good summary of the research). This was also mentioned in the Plastic Ocean film.

Sensitised to this danger, I am now noticing how much plastic my wife and I use in everyday living - and I am shocked. No more. I've pledged to myself to cut down on plastic purchases. I certainly will never use plastic bags again.

In any event, when I do use plastic, I am determined to ensure we recycle it. Fortunately in South Lakeland we have introduced kerbside plastic recycling, and all the plastic placed in the blue bags gets properly recycled.

I am also supporting a local campaign, Zero Waste Kendal, to encourage local Kendal businesses to use less plastic.

Fortunately, the government seems alive to the dangers of plastic. The environment secretary has recently announced that he will be introducing legislation to restrict the use of micro plastic in certain cosmetics and personal care products.

A good start, but to truly tackle this we all have to work together to reduce our plastic usage, recycle what we do use, and lobby business to seek alternatives. Otherwise we will leave a heavily-polluted planet to those who come after us.

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