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Holly. Image: Miray Campbell

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Humpback whale. Image: Christopher Swann

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Risso's dolphin at surface

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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

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Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

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Bags, bottles and wipes

Abigail Travers from online retailer (and WDC partner), Ethical Superstore, talks plastic.

At Ethical Superstore we are passionate about a range of ethical causes around the world. We offer shoppers real eco-friendly and fair trade alternatives to regular high street brands, and we partner with charities both local and worldwide. Through our checkout, customers can donate to a charity of their choice, and through our partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation our customers can now donate directly to their cause.

One of the causes close to our hearts here at Ethical Superstore is the battle to minimise plastic waste and we are always striving to offer real alternatives to single use plastics which are the most likely to end up in our oceans.

The plastic bag ban

So where are we at in regards to reducing plastic waste? Probably not where we should be. you’ve probably seen the horrific videos and stories shared on social media of sea turtles with straws stuck in their noses, or beached whales whose stomachs were full of plastic waste. Although we’re moving slowly, it’s important to note we are moving forward.

Take the 5p plastic bag charge in supermarkets and shops. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, this was a charge introduced in leading supermarkets to encourage shoppers to reuse bags rather than using plastic bags every time they shopped. While there was outcry at the time, the results show that it really worked. England’s plastic bag usage dropped 85% in the first 6 months after the 5p charge was introduced. In terms of figures, around 7 billion plastic bags were handed out by supermarkets the previous year, and that dropped to 500 million. It shows we are one step closer to protecting marine wildlife!

Tips on cutting plastic use

So, what else can you do to tackle the huge amount of plastic waste that is ending up in our oceans? There’s plenty really. Look at your daily routine, see how many single use plastics you use and simply replace them with reusable alternatives! ‘Single use’ plastics are things like straws, water bottles, plastic bags and coffee cups (usually these are lined with plastic) and can easily be replaced.

1. Reusable Bottles

Instead of buying bottled water from the shop, invest in your own reusable bottle. There are plenty of BPA-free plastic [AC1] and glass bottles that you can buy, including some that filter tap water as you drink it to improve the taste.

2. Reusable Shopping bags

I’m sure by now most of the country are already reusable shopping bags, you can get them in your local supermarket for about 50p. The range has grown exponentially, with more stylish designs, foldaway bags even trolley bags which make it much easier to pack your shopping when you’re done.

3. Biodegradable wipes

Baby wipes and face wipes are some of the worst culprits because so many are flushed down the toilet when really they ought not to be. The first change you can make is to not flush any kind of wipe down the toilet, this can just cause issues for your toilet and they’ll just end up in water treatment plants or the ocean – not good for anyone. The good news is that there are biodegradable wipes available, so even if you’re not a fan of sending such waste to landfill, at least with biodegradable wipes you know they won’t take hundreds of thousands of years to degrade!

4. Microbeads

Last but not least, one of the best things you can do is refuse to use products containing microbeads. Microbeads are tiny plastic particles used in beauty & skincare products, and they are ending up in our oceans, consumed by fish and other marine life which humans then eat, and they can have potentially harmful effects on the body – we don’t have enough information to confirm otherwise.

Luckily, the UK is set to ban microbeads in cosmetics sold here in 2017, with a view to phasing them out by 2020. That’s quite a long time to wait for some of us, so instead you can look for natural beauty and cosmetic brands that don’t use microbeads in any of their products – there are plenty of alternatives to choose from!

Find out more at Ethical Superstore.