Reducing Plastic Waste

What did we do before plastic? From its first use in mass-production in the early 20th century, it’s now everywhere, from our food packaging to our clothes. It’s versatile and cheap. This has made it so popular in the last 50 years that its production has sky-rocketed and we now find plastic in every corner of planet earth… even in our oceans, inside animals and in our own digestive systems.

We take it for granted, but plastic is a finite resource. One day, it really will run out. Around 335 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year. Unfortunately, far less is recycled and so an awful lot of the plastic that is produced ends up in landfill, in oceans and thus in fish, or littered across our natural landscapes.

Enough plastic enters landfill each year to circle the world four times. To make plastic a material that future generations can keep using sustainably, we need to get that down to as close to zero as possible. We can do that by recycling more, or even better, using less in the first place. The first step towards that is to get rid of single-use plastics.

We know that single-use plastics are a serious environmental problem. TV programmes like Blue Planet II have highlighted the huge amounts of damage they cause to wildlife and humanity. It’s daunting and scary to think about, but you can make a difference.

plastic pollution in Chelmsford rivers

The Plastic Pledge

One way you can start to reduce your plastic waste is to sign up for the Essex County Council Plastic Pledge program.

The Essex Plastic Pledge is a movement of residents, schools and organisations in Essex who are coming together and committing to reducing plastic waste. So far, over 1,300 individual people and over 3,000 households have pledged, which is fantastic!

If you’d like to get yourself, your family, business or friends involved, take a look at the Love Essex website. The program offers lots of simple, step-by-step ways to make a big difference in the long run. You’ll get a bi-monthly newsletter full of inspiration and success stories.

Love Essex Plastic Pledge Chelmsford

I can’t save the planet on my own.

The main thing to remember is that if we all do our bit to reduce our personal plastic footprint, we’ll be a huge step closer to solving this issue! Here’s a few tips to help make some simple changes to live a more eco-friendly life:

  • Buy from ‘packaging-free’ food shops – This is a fantastic way to lighten your carbon footprint and support local independent businesses. Take your jars and fill up on essential dry foods like flour, oats or sugar. Have a search online for your nearest ‘Packaging Free’ shop in Chelmsford: you’ll be surprised how many there are!
  • Buy a reusable coffee cup and/or water bottle – Try to keep it with you when you’re out and about in daily life. Every plastic bottle adds up – and you can get discounts in many coffee shops for using your own cup! You could also consider reusable cutlery and metal straws.
  • Give up on wet wipes – Wet wipes are single-use plastics that last lifetimes in the natural environment (predicted to be 500 years). Try using reusable cloth or flannel, or some water and some ultra-gentle toilet paper (depending on what you’re using them for…!) instead of ‘flushable’ wipes.
  • Pick skincare and cleaning products that have refillable packs – Refillables are important as often the spray systems in these types of bottles aren’t recyclable and they go straight to landfill. By reusing the original bottle and refilling it from a larger bottle you can keep your home and your environment clean at the same time! It’s much cheaper too – and you can get really pretty reusable soap dispensers and so on if you wish.

It’s important to remember that solving the issue of plastic pollution is not as simple as recycling everything we use. It’s a huge step in the right direction, but the most important action we can take is reducing how much we buy in the first place to conserve natural resources.

It’s estimated that if every person on our planet was able to have the same lifestyle as the average person in the UK, it would take two extra Earths to sustain us all. So we all need to do our best to reuse, recycle and renew wherever we can.

If you would like to know more about plastic recycling within Chelmsford, please click here.

Do you care? Why not make it official? Sign the Love Essex Plastic Pledge.