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Double Trouble: Research reveals the World’s oceans may have more than double the amount of plastic particles that we thought.

A study published in the Journal Environmental Pollution, has revealed that there might be more than double the amount of tiny plastic particles in the world’s oceans than than we previously thought!

A UK team of scientists led by the Plymouth Marine Laboratory collected approximately 2.5 times more plastic from UK and US coastal waters, when using coarser mesh nets as opposed to the traditional mesh nets they usually use.

What’s more than that, the scientists gathered ten times more plastic particles when using coarse sampling nets.

Co-lead author, Dr Matthew Cole explained, “Typically scientists use specialised nets to sieve out microplastics from the sea surface. Normally these nets are quite coarse so they don’t get clogged up with microscopic plants and animals that life in the sea, but it also means they’re unable to sieve out the very smallest plastics that are present.” Whilst it’s understandable that scientists opt for less coarse nets in order to protect the marine life – has this caused us to underestimate the plastic pollution pandemic? And what implications could this have on the environment, humanity and marine life?

Indeed, the team behind the research suggest that this research could have global ramifications for estimates of the amount of microplastics floating around in the oceans. When using the traditional sampling nets, it was estimated that there are between 5 to 50 trillion particles in the world’s waters. However, using the latest findings to calculate the plastic pollution pandemic, it is estimated that there could be between 12.5 to 125 trillion particles. If this figure is accurate, it could mean that plastic poses a far greater threat to marine life than previously assumed. Smaller microplastics are more likely to be ingested by small marine life, the zooplankton which form the basis of marine food chains. It also means there is a far greater risk the plastic will travel up the food chain and into humans.

It is vital that we understand more about smaller microplastics present in the oceans, since they can have far greater implications on marine life, the environment and humanity. More research needs to be conducted so we can understand reverberations of microplastics in the ocean.

Most of us don’t have access to resources that would allow us to research plastic pollution. But that’s okay – you don’t need to be a scientist to help combat the issue. It’s no secret that microplastics end up in the ocean when people don’t recycle correctly. So as long as we do our part, switch out single-use plastics for sustainable ones and make sure we recycle correctly. Then rest assured we are doing our part in helping to tackle this pandemic.

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So what’s the solution to air pollution?

After months of blue skies and cleaner air, China’s air pollution appears to be back as the coronavirus lockdowns ease. Experts suggest that what happens in China won’t stay in China – rather, it is a precedent for other countries around the world.

On Friday, Greenpeace China released data showing air pollution levels in the country has already bounced back after months of having lower levels of pollutants, due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions. What’s more is that the toxic pollutant levels in April were even higher than the levels during the same period last year.

Greenpeace China and energy expert Li Shuo said, that the rise in air pollution was due to the increase in industrial production, which was forced to a standstill during the lockdown, as well as weather patterns that contributed to the air pollution problem. Additionally, China is reliant upon coal for the majority or its energy needs, and electricity production also increased in April.

In late April the European Environmental Bureau (EBB) also noted air pollution’s return to China, warning Europe could also be headed in the same direction. During the coronavirus lockdown, European countries such as Italy and Paris also saw significant decreases in pollutant levels. Now the lockdowns are being lifted.

As the lockdown laws are gradually lifted, people will return to work, school and other leisurely activities. Notably, there will be an increase in pollution level as people will begin to travel more. This combined with the increase in industrial production and trade, will inevitably lead to higher levels in pollutant levels, unless action is taken.

EBB air policy officer Mergherita Tolotto said, “Breathing toxic air compromises our health and makes us more vulnerable to health threats.” Not only is air pollution bad for the environment, but it can also be detrimental to ones physical health. She also noted that any pandemic-related economic recovery programmes should match the European Green Deal, and its’ zero pollution goal. This means that governments need to promote cleaner energy, smarter mobility, sustainable agriculture and industry to build a cleaner, more resilient future.

So what does this mean for air and climate change beyond the current crisis? As we’ve seen with China, air pollution can return as quickly as it faded, if fossil fuel use rebounds. Only technologies, policies and investments that replace fossil fuels with energy efficient and clean fuels can sustainably achieve cleaner air and a stable climate.

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45 Steps to a Living a Plastic-Free Life.

Are you thinking about going plastic free? Wondering what to do or how to get started? Well, if that’s you, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, I present to you 45 steps to make your life plastic-free!

These 45 steps aren’t meant to be overwhelming, rather to show you that it is possible. Every sustainability journey starts somewhere, so choose some that seem manageable for you and then you can go from there!

1. Carry reusable shopping bags – Choose the bag that works for you! Some people prefer canvas bags, whilst others opt for backpacks. Keep them in your handbag or car and bring them to the store with you! Remember, carry them for all of your purchases – reusable bags are not just for supermarket shops – they can be used for all of your household needs!

2. Give up bottled water – Get a reusable bottle and fill it up with water when leaving the house. You’ll be surprised just how many places will be happy to fill up your bottle when on the go too!

3. Carry your own containers for take-out food and leftovers – Request that takeaway places use your container instead of their disposable ones!

4. Carry a travel mug for coffee or any other hot beverages – When getting your morning coffee make sure to bring with a reusable mug. Lots of cafes will also give you a discount on your drink if you do this – so that’s a little incentive to do it too!

5. Carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws

6. When ordering pizza, say no to the little plastic “table” in the middle of the pizza box. – it’s a simple request and most pizza stores will be happy to cooperate!

7. Ice Cream cone – Instead of buying tubs of ice cream, why not just have the occasional ice cream cone when out. Ice cream cones require zero container or utensil waste, whilst the tubs aren’t too good for the environment!

8. Say no to plastic bottled beverages – Rather than buying bottled juices why not squeeze them yourself. Perhaps invest in a Soda Stream or something similar – what’s more, the reusable CO2 cartridges are returned to the manufacturer for refilling.

9. Shop at your local farmers market – Farmers markets are a great way to buy fresh, local produce without plastic! Just remember to bring your own bags!

10. Return containers for berries, tomatoes and other small fruits and veggies to the farmers market to be reused.

11. Bring your own containers for meat and fish.

12. Buy fresh bread and baked goods that come in either paper bags or no bags!

14. Say no to plastic produce bags – you don’t need to put your apples in a separate bag to your tangerines. Just but them directly into your cart and then into your reusable bag!

15. Bye Bye frozen convenience foods – They pretty much all have some form of single-use plastic used in their packaging! Also it means you’ll be eating healthier too!

16. Choose milk with returnable glass bottles – time to go back to the olden days, where we used glass bottles instead of plastic ones (cardboard ones are coated inside and outside with plastic).

17. Choose plastic-free chewing gum – fun fact, almost all chewing gum is made of plastic! When you’re chewing gum, you’re actually chewing on plastic. Plastic-free chewing gum is an option however!

18. Clean with vinegar and water – Mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts of water for an all-purpose spray cleaner (storing it in a reused spray bottle)

19. Baking soda is a great scouring powder!

20. Used powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box!

21. Hand wash dishes without plastic – Use baking soda or bar soap instead!

22. Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic and synthetic ones – good old rags made from old clothing are probably the greenest option, but Skoy cloths and natural fibre brushes can be bought too.

23. Wash clothes with homemade laundry soap and stain removers

24. Instead of using a Swiffer mop, switch to a reusable pad.

25. Use natural rubber gloves, not latex single-use ones

26. Switch to bar soap instead of liquid soap.

26. Give up shampoo in plastic bottles – there are plenty of plastic-free options available.

27. Colour hair with henna purchased without plastic packaging

28. Choose lotions and lip balms in plastic-free containers.

29. Switch from a plastic razor to a second-hand safety razor.

30. Choose toilet paper that’s not wrapped in plastic

31. Try natural beeswax coated cloth wraps instead of plastic cling film.

32. Avoid non-stick cookware.

33. Learn to preserve foods without plastic – such as freeze producing without freezer bags or dehydrating produce to keep them through winter.

34. Make your own soy or nut milk

35. Make your own condiments – e.g. chocolate syrup, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup

36. Repair things when they break – when a plastic item breaks, try to repair it instead of buying a new one.

37. Avoid disposable plastic pens – switch to a refillable fountain pen that allows the pen to refill from the bottle of ink rather than buying new plastic cartridges.

38. Avoid feeding pets from plastic bowls

39. Shop from thrift stores

40. Request zero plastic packaging when ordering online. – just contact customer service and they’ll be happy to assist!

41. Make your own clothes – get to grips with a sewing machine and be sure to choose natural fabrics.

42. Use a handkerchief instead of a paper tissue – or at the very least buy a box without the plastic window!

43. Bring your own snacks on the plane – avoid plastic packaged food when you’re travelling!

44. Don’t forget your headphones when flying – most planes will offer you new headphones in plastic packaging, but if you come prepared you won’t need them!

45. Find do-it-yourself alternatives for over-the-counter remedies – you’ll be sure to reduce your plastic consumption!

Good luck on your plastic free journey! We hope this blog helps you and let us know if you think of other great ways to go plastic free!

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Ocean Refresh X Love The Oceans

Why have Ocean Refresh and Love The Oceans decided to work together?

As we’re sure you’re aware, the coronavirus has impacted many lives, businesses and organisations in so many ways. During this tricky time, here at Ocean Refresh, we want to highlight some of the good news of amazing environmental movements that we love and support. We’re also giving away a pair of Ocean Refresh flip flops (head over to our Instagram page @oceanrefresh to enter the draw – T&C’s apply).

So… what is Love The Oceans?

Love the Oceans (LTO) is a non-profit marine conservation organisation working in Jangamo Bay, Mozambique since 2014. Jangamo, whilst home to a huge host of marine life, has never been studied in depth for any prolonged amount of time. LTO is working to protect and study the diverse marine life found here, including many species of sharks, rays and the famous humpback whales. We use research, education and diving to drive action towards a more sustainable future. Our ultimate goal is to establish a Marine Protected Area for the Inhambane Province in Mozambique, achieving higher biodiversity whilst protecting endangered species.

LTO does lots of different areas of research: ocean trash, coral reef surveys, humpback whales, megafauna and fisheries, as well as two community outreach projects, teaching marine conservation and swimming skills.

LTO came across Ocean Refresh when the team was on the hunt for sustainable flip flop brands (flip flops are very useful in Mozambique!) and they’ve fallen in love with the products. We’re running a give-away campaign on their Instagram @lovetheoceans where you can win yourself a pair of the amazing Ocean Refresh flip flops. Be sure to check it out!

So why is Love The Oceans different?

LTO believes in a community-led, holistic approach to conservation. Through comprehensive biodiversity and sustainability research, educational outreach and capacity-building community workshops in sustainable fishing, LTO aims to facilitate the transition from current unsustainable fishing practices and targeted elasmobranch fisheries towards sustainable fishing supplemented by alternative livelihoods.

The first step in any successful conservation effort is to understand the underlying cause of the issue. Through our comprehensive research LTO is collecting baseline data to understand and document pressing conservation issues across our research sites. We are monitoring the development of current conservation issues through our continuous research. The combination of solid baseline data and continuous sampling effort ensures the development of clear, achievable biodiversity targets and framework for the implementation of a successful community-led Marine Protected Area in the Inhambane Province.

The next integral step is to enable and empower our communities to solve the critical conservation and sustainability problems that are negatively impacting their livelihoods. At LTO the core of our community-led conservation approach is our Educational Outreach: We work with active fishermen running workshops on sustainable fishing and educate the next generation of fishermen by teaching Marine Resource Management and Sea Safety at two local schools. Equipped with the right tools and knowledge our communities are empowered to successfully transition towards sustainable fishing, ending shark fishing and establishing a Marine Protected Area with a long-term, sustainable outcome beneficial for both ecosystems and communities.

The final step in LTO’s community-led conservation approach is to develop and implement alternative sources of food and income through our Sustainable Livelihoods and Ocean Conservation Champion Programs. Ecotourism is a major industry currently generating an estimated US$10.9 million in direct revenue to dive operators in the Inhambane Province annually, and with a direct economic impact of US$34.0 million annually. Sustainable ecotourism and other alternative sources of income can ensure both sustainable livelihoods for the local communities and the protection of vulnerable ecosystems and species.

Through our Research, Educational Outreach and Community Outreach Programs LTO is taking a holistic, community-led approach to conservation leading the sustainable development towards the end goal of establishing a Marine Protected Area through a community-led, bottom-up approach.

Want more info?

If you want to read more about Love The Oceans or get involved in their work, you can check out their website lovetheoceans.org, and keep up-to-date with their daily activities via their social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin (@lovetheoceans).

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Earth Day 2020: The round-up.

In 1970, the first ever Earth Day movement witnessed over 20 million US citizens come together to demand climate and environmental action. 50 years on, Earth Day is now observed by almost 100,000 organisations, in over 190 countries, and approximately 1 billion people partake in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Earth Day 2020 events, rallies and protests were cancelled all over the world. Rather than lining streets, parks and stadiums, people joined the first ever Digital Earth Day. It received a warm reception on social media, with businesses, communities and individuals, all sharing their actions and pledges for the betterment of the Earth and environment.

Families uploaded their images of beach cleans, gardening, as well as sustainable lifestyle choices they were going to make – the list goes on! Whilst people were socially isolating at home, the inspirational and supportive messages that emerged across social media throughout the day demonstrated, that whilst we are living in a time of separation, people are connected now more than ever.

SodaStream, an in-home water brand that transforms tap water into flavoured and sparkling drinks, unveiled their commitment to reduce single-use plastic waste by around 67 billion bottles by 2025. They also announced that they would be switching all of its flavours from plastic to metal bottles. Not only will this have a massive effect on ocean pollution and marine life, but also sets the right tone for other businesses and corporations to follow suit.

Online retailer Etsy recently announced plants to offset 100% of its carbon emissions generated from shipping items, free of charge for its customers. This Earth Day they announced that their latest acquisition Reverb, will now be covered under the offset initiative. They stated that they would offset 100% of shipping emissions for every item purchased on Reverb by investing in environmental projects, including those that conserve hardwoods traditionally used to make musical instruments. They are also working towards powering their operations with 100% renewability, demonstrating just how important the environment is to them.

In September 2019, Timberland announced their plans to plant 50 million trees over the next 5 years – a massive increase from 10 million trees over the past 18 years. This Earth Day 2020, they said that they were still planning on running 50 eco-service events worldwide this year, but have been put on hold due to the coronavirus.

To say that Digital Earth Day 2020 was a success, would be an understatement. If there is one thing that we can all take away from the 50th anniversary of Earth Day is that no matter what boundaries or constraints we face, there is no reason we can’t come together (virtually) and stand up for what is right. Whilst we may not be able to partake in mass beach cleans or other gatherings of environmental activities, we can all do our own part towards contributing positively to the environment.

Whether your picking up rubbish from the ground, switching out single-use plastics for re-usable ones, or shopping sustainable (go order your pair of Ocean Refresh flip flops if you haven’t already!), no act is too big or too small when it comes to caring for the planet.

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Everything You Need To Know About Earth Day.

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, where millions of people come together to protect the planet.

However, with the vast majority of the world isolating at home, Earth Day 2020 will be somewhat different to its previous years, with organisers asking people to rally online for the first ever Digital Earth Day.

Rather than flooding streets, parks and stadiums, people are being encouraged to use their voices to drive action online rather than in person.

That all sounds very nice, but what does World Earth Day mean and why do we have it?

World Earth Day is held on April 22nd – the same date every year, and is celebrated by an estimated one billion people worldwide – making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Earth Day was first launched 50 years ago, when millions of Americans took to the streets to protest for environmental reform. The event was the brainchild of senator Gaylord Nelson, after a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969.

By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the first of their kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later Congress passed the Clean Water Act. One year after that, the Endangered Species Act was passed, and soon after the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

These laws have protected millions of men, women and children from disease and death, as well as protecting hundreds of species from extinction.

First started as a way to teach environmentalism and protest against the negative aspects of industrialisation, Earth Day soon became a global environmental movement. People from across the globe are encouraged to partake in activities that protect the environment, from recycling and planting trees to reducing our carbon footprint.

How can I take part this year?

Due to the current global pandemic, this year World Earth Day will be celebrated considerably differently. With individuals protesting virtually, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Participants are encouraged to share the hashtags #EarthDay2020 and #EARTHRISE acorss social media.

Earth Day Network will be providing live coverage of the “global digital mobilisations” online, and other digital events include virtual protests, social media campaigns, online seminars and more. Join them on and on social media for 24 hours of action on Earth Day!

What is this year’s theme?

Each year, Earth Day has a different theme. The theme for 2020 is climate action.

Organisers say the “enormous challenge – but also vast opportunities – of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.”

Whilst the coronavirus may force people to keep their distance, this doesn’t mean that they cannot be heard. The only way for the world to change is for a bold and unified demand for a new way forward. We may be apart, but through the power of digital media, we are also connected now, more than ever. No matter where you are, you can make a difference. You are not alone, because together, we can save the Earth.

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Scientists discover an enzyme that ‘recycles plastic in 10 hours’.

We all know just how much plastic waste has polluted the planet, from the oceans to marine life, the list goes on. Many of us play our part in the fight for sustainability in trying to recycle as much as we can. Unfortunately though, recycling isn’t as helpful as it seems. Roughly about 30% of the plastic that goes into ‘single-use’ plastic bottles gets turned into new plastic, and more often than not ends up as a lower strength version.

Certain environmentalists feel that abandoning the use of plastics entirely is key, whilst others place greater emphasis on the recycling of the material. Carbios, a sustainable plastics company, suggest that the strong, lightweight nature of the material is extremely useful and that true recycling is part of the solution. Researchers from Carbios have engineered a bacterial enzyme that breaks down 90% of that same plastic into its original chemical building blocks that can then used to create high-quality new bottles.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is one of the world’s most frequently used plastics, with approximately 70 million tons manufactured annually. Whilst PET bottles are recycled in many places already, the current approach has many problems. For example, recycling companies often end up with a vast array of different colours of plastic. They use high pressures and temperatures to melt these down, producing a grey, black or dark coloured plastic starting material that few companies want to use in the packaging of their products. This recycled material is usually turned into carpets or other low-grade plastic fibres frequently end up in a landfill or get burned. All in all, it seems as if it’s not really ‘recycling’ at all.

To overcome this inefficiency, scientists have searched for enzymes in microbes that break down PET and other plastics. Back in 2012, researchers at Osaka University discovered one such enzyme in a compost heap. However, the enzyme known as leaf-branch compost cutinase (LLC), slowly breaks apart PET bonds only, and falls apart after a few days of working at 65°C – the temperature at which PET begins to soften and allows the enzyme to move into the polymer to reach the links it needs to break.

Alain Marty, the chief scientific officer at Carbios, teamed up with Isabelle Andre, an enzyme engineering expert at the University of Toulouse. They sought to modify the enzyme in order to maximise its’ efficiency. After hours of work and research, they tested their new mutant enzyme, discovering that it could break down 90% of the PET bottles in less than 10 hours. The researchers then used the terephthalate and ethylene glycol building blocks generated by the enzyme to generate new PET and produce plastic bottles that were just as strong as those made from conventional plastics, thus overcoming the limitations of the current recycling of PET bottles.

Whilst this is very exciting, there are still questions surrounding whether the enzyme will be an economically viable solution. One of the main advantages of the enzyme is that it has no difficulty in making pure PET chemical building blocks from a mix of plastics containing ones other than PET, and PET bottles of different colours. This is because, the enzyme only breaks bonds linking the two PET components, returning them to their original form, while ignoring dyes and other plastics in the mix.

This groundbreaking research is fascinating for environmentalists, and those in the fight against plastics and the sustainability industry. Whilst the enzyme cannot recycle other major types of plastics, such as polyethylene and polystyrene. If successful, it could help society deal with one of the most challenging plastic problems we face.

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The eco-friendly lockdown guide.

Since most of the nation are staying at home, it’s of little surprise that there has been a significant reduction in air pollution. Cars remain parked in garages, airplanes are grounded on the runways, and factories all over the world have come to a standstill.

With school runs cancelled, and work commutes ditched, millions of people isolating at home, now have extra time on their hands. What better way to utilise this time, than to boost this environmental silver lining?

So, here are our top 7 eco-friendly, sustainable living choices for staying at home!

1. Grow your own veg.

If you’ve got a garden, or even a window ledge where you can keep houseplants, why not invest in seeds for future food? Gardening helps cut down on the CO2 emissions from the transport of fresh produce.

Lettuce, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, spring onions and tomatoes are staple foods that can be grown in the UK. All you need are seeds, soil, sunlight, some water and a ‘little’ help from mother nature!

2. Cut down on water waste

We all know what it’s like to procrastinate in the shower, and with an increased amount of time at home it’s quite a tempting activity. However, taking efficient showers can significantly reduce water waste, and energy you are using. Alternatively, why not opt for a shower instead of a bath. The average bath requires 70 gallons of water to fill, whilst a 5-minute shower uses 10-25 gallons. How’s that for shower power?

3. Ditch your car, and walk afar

Although the majority of the country has switched their morning commute for a walk from their bedroom to their ‘work from home office’ aka the kitchen table, many people are still using their cars to get to the supermarkets.

If you are within walking distance of your supermarket, why not bring with a large rucksack and spare bags and carry your shop home with you! Not only will you be reducing your carbon offset, but you’ll be getting some exercise in too!

4. Say no to single-use items

Single-use items are costly to the environment, and since our lifestyles are built on convenience we use theses all the time. Just think about how frequently you use toilet paper, plastic bottles, straws and paperware – all single-use items. Obviously, you won’t be able to give up all of these e.g. toilet paper, but you can certainly reduce your intake of most of the others.

Swap kitchen roll for kitchen rags, plastic straws for glass or metal ones and paper coffee cups for reusable ones!

5. Time to bring back that washing line

With the summer weather on the horizon, what better way to go sustainable than to bring out the washing line. Switching from machine drying to air drying will not only save on your energy bills, but reduces wrinkles (disclaimer, on the clothes – not your skin) and eliminates that ever so irritating static cling.

6. Go Meatless on Mondays

Animal agriculture is a large contributor to greenhouse gases. The livestock has to be fed, transported, butchered, and then transported again to reach you. Trying to cut down on the meat you consume is a great way to help the planet. There are so many delicious recipes that can you can try out – why not use this time to get creative in the kitchen! Who knows, you might just be the next Heston Blumenthal.

7. Recycle, recycle, recylce – oh and did we mention recycle?

We can’t emphasise just how important recycling is. Opting for foods with recyclable packaging is one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll recycle your waste. Why not create yourself some homemade recycling bins for the kitchen. It’s a great kickstart to making sure your waste ends up in the right bin, and it’ll leave the kids entertained for hours (hopefully)!

Why not start a compost pile? It’s a great way to dispose of vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags and plant pruning. You can even add in some cardboard egg boxes and scrunched up paper!

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Plastic is making a comeback.

In recent weeks, striking images of blue skies and clear waters in places, from London to Los Angeles, and Beijing to Bangalore have dominated the news. With most of the world on lockdown, the environment is improving. Air pollution, for example, is declining throughout many major cities across the world.

Whilst this demonstrates the positive effects COVID-19 has had on the environment, the pandemic poses a considerable threat to sustainability. Single-use plastic usage is on the rise in food and drink. Supermarkets all over the globe have banned reusable shopping bags due to the increased risk of infection. Prior to the shuttering of non-essential businesses, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Horton’s alongside many other corporations suspended accepting refillable mugs to reduce the spread of infection.

Obviously public health comes first. However, these are challenging times for environmental activists. 2020 appeared to be a year when meaningful plastic-use restrictions would begin to take hold. Coca-Cola Co., had targets set to reduce their reliance on plastic packaging. This month, England was to implement restrictions on plastic straws and stirrers. France saw the banning of single-use plastic cups, cutlery and plates. New York, alongside many other cities around the world, prohibited the distribution of plastic shopping bags by retailers. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic many of these policies’ have been waived. UK Environmental secretary, George Eustice, revoked the 5p charge on plastic bags for online shoppers, and plans to further reduce single-use plastic have been put on hold due to Covid-19.

A recent report by BloombergNEF revealed that the short term worries of the sustainability industry, may in fact be valid. “Concerns around food hygiene due to Covid-19 could increase plastic packaging intensity, undoing some of the early progress made by companies,” the report stated.

It appears that single-use plastics are indeed up on the rise. More often than not, many of these items can be switched out for more sustainable choices. Using metal cutlery as opposed to plastics, or opting for tap water instead of bottled. It’s during times like these, where it’s of the utmost importance to maximise on these easy, sustainable life choices.

Once, and only once, we’ve obtained the maximum lifespan from our plastic products, we must then dispose of them in the correct way – by recycling them. This week, environment and trade bodies questioned local authorities’ decision to reduce or close domestic recycling services. There is a lot of debate regarding whether or not these should remain closed. Especially, since it potentially reduces the spread of infection. Regardless of the outcome, whether recycling centres reopen or stay closed, we as individuals’ must take responsibility and continue to recycle and care for the planet we love.

What are your thoughts? What impact do you think Covid-19 will have on sustainability, and the fight against plastics?

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Fly-tipping up 300% across Britain.

In recent weeks, councils have reported a staggering 300% surge in fly-tipping across Britain. With most of the country in isolation, people have turned their ever so casual spring-cleans, into coronavirus quarantine clear-outs.

Families are stockpiling food, which then goes to waste, creating surplus amounts of leftovers, only to overflow their bins. Others, are using their spare time to attempt home and garden renovations, generating an abundance of rubbish and recycling.

Streets neighbouring charity shops have become swamped with piles of shoes, clothing and knick-knacks – irrespective of the fact that they remain shut. Whilst these prosocial behaviours usually benefit so many poverty-stricken individuals, as well as assisting in the fight against fast fashion. They are now polluting the environment and contributing towards it.

Piles of recycling and general rubbish lay uncollected at Tesco Extra Store in Wembley North London.

Tameside council of Greater Manchester shared images of mess on social media.

 

Not only does fly-tipping create unnecessary pollution, increase the labour of the council’s waste teams, and add cost of the taxpayer to clear it up. But, it’s a major public health issue, with growing concerns about animal infestation. People ought to be cleaner and more hygienic in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and that includes taking the appropriate responsibility for their household waste.

A whole host of items are being littered across the roads, with evidence of Christmas trees left over from December ditched as part of the fly-tipping offences.

Officials have revealed that this figure is set to get worse with many key tipping sites, and recycling centres due to remain closed, as well as reductions in kerbside collections across the country.

This doesn’t mean we can’t continue to do DIY garden renovations, or de-clutter our homes amidst the coronavirus quarantine. Rather, we need to be mindful of the strain it puts on communities and be considerate towards them as well. This is a time where people should all be pulling together and united as one, not being selfish and dumping waste at their convenience. There’s no point in ‘recycling’ if it never makes it to its’ proper final destination! And remember fly-tipping is never okay!