When I was a kid, I found a pigeon on the street. It couldn’t walk properly as one of his legs was atrophied, and another one – clamped off with a fishing line. I caught the bird and brought it home, we released it from the trap, cleaned the leg up and let the bird go. It happened almost twenty years ago, but the plastic pollution problem is still relevant, it’s on our streets, in the hands of our kids and inside of us.

Earlier this year scientists announced that they found microplastic in the human body for the first time. Even though there were only eight test participants from Europe, Japan and Russia, the news is not good. Scientists have already found polypropylene and polyethene terephthalate in birds, fish and some insects, and suggest that plastic can be found in the human food chain. According to the Vivobarefootreport, one million plastic bottles are bought every minute around the globe. What about other plastic products like straws, cotton pads, plastic bags? No wonder Collins dictionary announced “single-use” as a phrase of the year.

Single-use is phrase of the year.

Other investigations said that by 2050 the weight of plastic rubbish in the ocean might weigh more than sea inhabitants. Some companies have already taken responsibility and started to act to prevent this from happening.

In California, The Ocean Cleanup launched the System 001 for Ocean Cleaning. The construction is about 600 meters in length, dipping into the water at 2.7 meters and will collect garbage from the surface of the ocean without harming living organisms. Plastic caught in the ocean will be sent to the shore for recycling. Since the system was manufactured in San Francisco, they will focus on Great Pacific spot.

Some fashion brands have also considered changes in their systems for creating clothes and shoes. Timberland has released shoes, clothing and accessories which are  50% made of recycled plastic. 7,5 plastic bottles can create one backpack. Garbage was collected on the streets on Haiti, which also made possible for locals to earn extra money. The Real Madrid Football Club released a uniform made from recycled plastic caught in the ocean. Adidas Club technical sponsor in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans developed the material. 25 large plastic bottles are used to create one uniform.

In Zwolle, the Netherlands, the first bicycle trial made of recycled plastic bottles, cups and packaging materials appeared. The 30-meter cycletrack is made from 218,000 plastic elements. Experts think, that such a resurfacing of roads will be three times more durable than asphalt.

Even though big companies and famous people are making their impact, the numbers are still inconsolable. But Dave Hakkens, the guy no one knew about till 2013, took action, created a plastic recycling system at home and uploaded all the schemes and processes on the internet. He shows what you can do yourself with plastic instead of throwing it away. Today there is a community of 40 thousand participants around the globe who recycle plastic at home.

When I was a kid my grandmother used to wash plastic bags and dry them in the backyard, unfortunately, neighbourhood kids would laugh at my family. My grandmother had to do it because we didn’t have enough money to buy new bags. Today someone who is reusing their plastic bags is a hero on an intergalactic level. What has changed in our heads? We just became more aware of what we are doing to the planet. I am not drying plastic bags in our backyard, I don’t use them. Together with my mom we sew cotton bags, so I use them when I am doing grocery shopping instead. But is it enough? What else can everyone do to eliminate the amount of plastic around the world?

Photo by Katy Belcher on Unsplash
  • Tell staff that you don’t need a straw at the cafe and join the global protest Stop Sucking campaign  – where famous people call to stop using straws.
  • Don’t buy plastic-wrapped products. Go to the local market with your cotton bag and support local farmers.
  • If you can’t live without a cup of coffee on the way to work, bring your own recyclable cup (same works with the bottle for water).
  • Don’t use the body and face scrubs – manufacturers use a microplastic that doesn’t dissolve, gets into water, then into fish, and eventually – back into your body.
  • Buy cosmetics in big packages or bring your empty jars for re-filling. Some companies like Lush take back the empty containers of their products and give rewards to their customers.
  • Don’t use cotton pads. When it gets into the water, it is difficult to remove them, and it gets into sea inhabitants bodies.
  • Support internationally verified organisations: become a volunteer, make donations, spread the information.

Recently I fought with my friend: she was telling that it makes no difference if I sort the garbage or not if big factories like coca-cola are producing millions of bottles every day. I was explaining that every effort matters and we join hands it will make a difference.

What you would say, are you with us?

Anna Bilenka

Anna Bilenka

Anna is a freelance writer/copywriter from Ukraine. Anna is passionate about writing and reading, she gives workshops in writing techniques and hosts a book club every first Sunday of the month. She can't live without good salsa dance, open and independent people to talk to, an enjoyable book to read and tasty wine to drink.

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Anna Bilenka

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