I have spent the weekend staying with my nieces as their parents have gone to Broome for the weekend. I love my nieces more than anything else on the planet and we always have a spectacular time together. We hang out, talk about life, cook and eat great food, and go on adventures.
On top of this, we are all very passionate about treading lightly on the planet as well as animal conservation. We have had many long conversations over the years about these topics and have set up our own little charity club called The Earth Project.
We were in Langkawi two years ago staying in a beautiful resort in the National Park. The Rainforest and beaches were so picturesque but the amount of plastic washing up on the beach every day was astounding.
The resort staff were up early every morning tidying and raking the beach before the guests appeared for the day but still, when we walked each morning we still came across straws, bits of rope, bottle tops, water bottles etc. We started taking a rubbish bag with us each morning so we could pick up the rubbish we found along the walk. One of our family mottos is to always leave the environment better than when we found it, whether that be physically or energetically.
The resort staff were horrified that we were picking up rubbish, they were very insistent that it wasn’t our job!
The Girls – particularly Sophie – developed a very deep interest in the oceans after this, in particular the amount of rubbish in the ocean. She has been a phenomenal educator in the family and is consistently showing us different ways we can support ocean health and reduce our plastic use.
One of the best groups she has introduced me to is called 4Oceans . 4Oceans was set up by two surfing and ocean enthusiast mates, Alex and Andrew. They were stunned to realise the enormity of the plastic pollution in the ocean as they surfed around the world. They recognised that something needed to be done FAST because we were (and still are for that matter) heading towards a total environmental catastrophe.
4Oceans is now a global movement that sells 100 per cent recycled bracelets that purposefully and proudly fund the removal of litter from our oceans and coastlines.
And they are really making a difference!
When I arrived at the Girls’ house on Friday I was informed that I was not to throw any plastic away as Soph was doing an experiment on how much plastic comes out of the average household -more specifically – how much single use plastic is used.
Gee, what an eye opener! I never realised just how much plastic is passing through my hands.
The intention of this experiment is:
- Identify where the plastic is coming from (eg. tomato punnets, bagged lettuce or spinach, juice bottles, all pre-packaged fruit, milk, yoghurt containers, the peel away cover on a tub of ice-cream, biscuit packets, even our toilet rolls come in plastics for goodness sake!!)
- Come up with alternatives to plastic use (eg. buying bulk fruit and using reusable mesh bags, using bamboo toothbrushes, using a bar of soap instead of liquid soap that comes in plastic, buy butter that is wrapped in paper, using bees wax covers instead of glad wrap)
- Take ownership of just how much plastic the family is using and use that to stay motivated to minimise plastic use into the future.
Today is the last day of the two week experiment and currently all the plastic is being stored on Soph’s bedroom floor! Wow, as I stand there looking at the mountain of plastic (and these guys are already super conscious of their plastic use!) and knowing how much of it has come from my short 48 hours here…something definitely needs to change on my behalf.
The Girls have completely inspired me to re-examine in what ways I can be even more savvy with my plastic consumption. These fun (if you are a sicko) plastic facts that Soph has provided me have been exceptionally powerful in motivating me to make more changes. Brace yourself, this is SHOCKING –
- The average plastic bag is used for 12 minutes
- 80% of plastic bottles are NOT recycled!! What the???
- Takeaway coffee cups can’t be recycled as they are lined with plastic and ONE BILLION end up in landfill in this country EVERY YEAR!
- 44% of seabirds and ALL sea turtle species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies
- A trillion plastic bags are used around the world each year and only 3% are recycled
- By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight
- 30 million toothbrushes are being disposed of each in year in Australia that equates to 1000 tons of landfill each year
- There are 8 million metric tons of plastic that end up in our oceans every year. This is equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coast line in the world.
- 373 million plastic bottles end up in landfill in Australia each year. That’s just Australia – where we like to think we are onto it!
I trust that by reading this very short list of plastic facts that you feel inspired to make a change…