Cigarette butts are actually the most abundant form of plastic waste in the world, with about 4.5 trillion individual butts polluting our global environment. They are made of cellulose acetate, a man-made plastic material, and contain hundreds of toxic chemicals. A San Diego State University study found that a single cigarette butt with traces of tobacco introduced into a litre of water resulted in the death of 50% of the fish in the water.
Balloons and Balloon Sticks
Balloons are commonly made from latex rubber or nylon with a metallic coating as in the case of helium balloons.
Neither are biodegradable and cause lots of damage to wildlife, with animals mistaking them for food or getting caught up in the string.
Strings and sticks are made of plastic although the sticks are set to be banned in the EU this year.
In 2013, a British schoolboy released 300 helium balloons as part of a school project. One of his balloons ended up in Australia – 10,545 miles away!
Eco alternatives include bubbles, fabric bunting, tissue paper or wool pompoms, flowers or homemade banners.
5 trillion plastic bags are used per year. That's 160,000 a second! A plastic bag is used for an average of 12 minutes. Many sea creatures ingest them in water as they mistake them for jellyfish.
'Somebody Swallowed Stanley' by Sarah Roberts is a great book for kids to learn about plastic pollution. It follows the adventures of Stanley, a plastic bag!
Plastic Straws and Stirrers
Plastic straws are not recyclable and take up to 200 years to break down in to tiny pieces. In the US alone, 500 million straws are used every day, enough to wrap around the Earth four times!
Ask to have your drink without a straw or stirrer or bring your own reusable one.
If eating out or getting takeaway, bring some cutlery wrapped in a napkin with you or buy a spork/bamboo cutlery set.
If getting takeaway delivered to your home, ask for disposable cutlery not to be included. Leave out the salt and other sachets also if you won't need them.
I have always found restaurants to be really accommodating with my requests! It could become the norm if we all start to do it!
I'm delighted that the EU have banned the following, as of July 3rd 2021:
- Cotton bud sticks
- Expanded polystyrene single use food and beverage containers
- All oxo-degradable plastic products
The EU directive will also see other measures come into effect over the next few years.
By 5 January 2023, producers of packaging of certain single-use plastics will be required to cover the costs of litter clean up. The EU Commission is said to be producing guidance on how this will be calculated.
From January 2025, it will be a requirement for drink producers to have at minimum, 25% recycled plastic in their single-use plastic bottles.