The Reduction in Plastic Use
Plastic pollution is currently one of the most severe threats to the world's oceans. Several recent programmes have shown the harsh reality of its effects, causing a global outcry. Shocking statistics reveal that more than 150 million tonnes of plastic items are currently drifting around the world, being responsible for the deaths of one million birds per year. A further eight million tonnes are being added to this each year. Approximately 100,000 sea mammals are also known to die each year, as a direct result of plastic pollution. Thankfully, the world's population is coming to realise that this cannot continue, and taking simple steps such as using bamboo cutlery, rather than plastic, really can make a difference.
Sir David Attenborough
At the forefront of this revolution is the renowned naturalist and broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough. Sir Attenborough sincerely believes that our behaviour is changing and believes that the damage caused to the planet through plastic pollution, although not irreversible, can be halted. The use of natural cutlery, if adopted by the majority of countries, could make a huge difference to the future of our planet. He foresees an increasing move away from the use of plastic as the "pollution solution."
Sir David Attenborough's recent TV series, Blue Planet II, made a significant impact on its viewers and did not seek to hide the truth of what plastic pollution is doing to the oceans and their creatures. This award-winning documentary brought home theis reality with graphic footage of albatross birds unknowingly feeding their chicks plastic, including bags and food packaging, condemning them to death. Parents, in particular, were affected by this programme, leading to an increase in sales of sustainable cutlery, as they sought to instil new behaviours in their children.
The Way Forward
At the moment, there is no one definitive answer to the problem of plastic pollution, although Sir David Attenborough believes that a method of using chemicals to break the items down would be an ideal solution. Until this becomes a viable method of dealing with plastic waste, other ways have to be found to reduce the harmful impacts of our "throwaway society." An easy step to take is to use plastic-free items such as cutlery or straws. In fact, as of April 2020, the UK government has outlawed the use of plastic straws and cotton buds.
It is known that a single piece of plastic could take up to 20 years to degrade, and a styrofoam cup, such as those used by coffee shops, could last for up to 50 years. And even then, all that happens is that they break down into smaller pieces, which could be ingested. Most shocking of all, a single plastic water bottle could remain intact for 450 years. The time is now for the world's population to take a stance against the use of plastic, to halt the damage to the planet, by changing our behaviour patterns and ensuring that our children are aware of why we need to change.