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Living Lightly column

Plastic Free 2019

By Tess Middleton

Did you know that one garbage truck worth of plastic goes into the ocean every minute?

In the last decade on Aussie beaches alone, more than 2.53 million plastic pieces, almost one million cigarette butts and 512,400 pieces of plastic bags were collected.

Tragically more than 100,000 turtles, dolphins, sharks, whales and millions of seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic. Turtles, for example, cannot see the difference between a jellyfish, a common part of their diet, and a plastic bag.

The lifecycle of plastics is literally never ending; plastic has been designed to last forever, over time breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. However, single use plastics like straws, bags and coffee lids are used only once and then disposed of!

Trillions of plastic fragments are in our oceans, ingested by our marine life and then end up on our dinner plates in the seafood we eat, so we too are ingesting plastic!

We have the power to take action, however, and the first step is to say no to single use plastics;

  • Take your own grocery bags
  • Put fruit and vegetables straight into your trolley
  • Say no to straws and lids, even carry your own metal straw
  • Carry your own cutlery
  • Have a reusable thermos and drink bottle

You can also help by having a friendly conversation with friends, family and colleges that may not understand the impact of single use plastics.

In 2018 we saw major supermarkets remove single use plastic bags, stopping billions of bags at the source.

There are also organisations which are doing their part to clean our seas;

  • Take3ForTheSea; a simple initiative whereby each time you visit the beach, river or park you pick up 3 pieces of litter
  • 4Ocean; This organisation will collect one pound (almost 500g) of rubbish from the ocean for every bracelet they sell
  • Ocean Positive; Swimwear made using recycled nylon from ghost fishing nets

It is predicted that by 2048 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. With a new year comes new opportunities, goals and resolutions – together let’s make 2019 a plastic free year.