BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 31 May '17

Can you get through June without using any single-use plastics?

With the possibility of having more plastic than fish in our seas by 2050, our reliance on plastic – in all its forms – is clear.

To highlight just what a plastic pickle we’re in, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is asking the public to take on the Plastic Challenge this June.

The challenge is to say goodbye to single-use plastics – from pre-packed sandwiches, ready meals and plastic-bottled drinks – for a day, a week or, if they can manage it, the whole of June.

‘Our planet is becoming poisoned by plastic. The vast amount in our oceans has become an environmental emergency as a direct result of our throwaway society. That’s why I’m supporting thousands of people living without single-use plastic this June as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge. Don’t just get depressed about plastic – stop using it!’

SIMON REEVE
TV presenter and Plastic Challenge ambassador

Milk to loo roll

Last year almost 1,000 people took part in the MCS Plastic Challenge, and over 95% said they would continue reducing their plastic use after the challenge was over. The charity hopes even more people will take part in 2017.

‘This is a challenge that you can make as easy or as hard for yourself as you like. But however you choose to do it, you can’t fail to realise just how reliant on plastic we’ve become. Some things are really tough to replace, however much you want to give up single-use plastic.’

DR SUE KINSEY
MCS technical specialist

Among the hardest things people found to replace were milk containers, dried goods like pasta, rice and pulses packaged in single-use plastic, loo paper and toothpaste.

How plastic dominates lives

MCS says that many people who take on the challenge really do get stuck in, but Dr Kinsey adds even ‘dedicated ditchers’ find it hard to find alternatives, proving that plastic dominates our lives – even when we actively try to resist it.

One person told MCS they only lasted two hours before they realised there were single-use plastic bags inside their cardboard cereal packet.

Despite that, of 61 Challengers who were surveyed in 2016, 3% managed a day, 27% saw out a full week and 34% stuck it out for a month.

Get creative!

Some things are really easy to replace with a bit of thought: hand wash dispensers and shower gel can be replaced with a bar of soap (many aren’t plastic wrapped), you can make your own lunches rather than buy plastic-packed sandwiches and use tap water in reusable bottles.

Last year, Challengers also made their own bread, yoghurt, cleaning and bathroom products like mouthwash and sugar scrubs so as not to use plastic containers that are used once then thrown out.

180% rise in plastic on beaches

MCS says the amount of plastic litter on our beaches has increased by 180% in the last 20 years and has become a massive threat to marine wildlife.

Plastic bags, bottles and tiny plastic pieces are regularly found in the stomachs of turtles and other sea creatures, and in some cases have caused their death from starvation or choking.

‘Reducing plastic litter will certainly be an uphill climb – but there are some easy steps to take and if we can all cut down the amount we use, there’s no doubt our marine environment will be a healthier place.

‘People taking on the Plastic Challenge are often shocked to find out just how much single-use plastic is used every day. Have a go at the Plastic Challenge, even if you can only manage a single day, and you’ll never look at your shopping in the same way again!’

DR SUE KINSEY
MCS technical specialist

The Plastic Challenge is sponsored by water filtration company BRITA UK, and MCS will offer help and advice through an online community in the run-up to the challenge and all through the month of June.

‘It’s fantastic to be supporting the Plastic Challenge alongside MCS once again. At BRITA UK we believe it is absolutely vital that we step up to protect marine life from the unnecessary damage done by single use plastic bottles and other forms of plastic litter. One or two small changes, such as carrying a refillable bottle or a reusable bag, could have such an enormous positive impact. Given that 60 per cent of people would be willing to switch from bottled water to more environmentally friendly alternatives, it’s clear this can be done. We hope that this year even more people take on the Plastic Challenge and try to cut down on single use plastics in daily life.’

BECKY WIDDOWSON
BRITA marketing director

Click here to register to take part in the Plastic Challenge.