Plastic is taking over oceans – 8 tips to make a daily difference

In 34 years there is expected to be more plastic than fish in the oceans, according to a new report from World Economic Forum. Scary prospects for the future.

The Danish Plastics Federation has joined forces with two NGOs, Plastic Change and the Ecological Council, to combat plastic pollution. Supported by foundations, they are working on different solutions, including more recycling of plastic waste, the three organizations write on their respective websites.

But what can you and I do? – Besides hoping that more plastic industry organizations will follow the Danish example, and that innovative minds and financially powerful people will join forces to develop and implement ocean cleaning technologies. Several inventions have already been made: Two Australian surfers have developed the Seabin, and a Dutch engineering student, Boyan Slat, has invented a sea vacuum cleaner, OceanCleanUp, to pick up plastic on the sea surface. But, there is a long way from invention to implementation and operation, and apparently, there has not yet been enough – or sufficiently risk-averse – investors to finance these kind of projects.

In addition to collecting plastic in oceans, it would help if we all used less and recycled more. Today, only 14 percent of all plastic packaging is collected for recycling.

Here are 8 simple tips that require minimal changes in everyday life, and some of them even save money:

  1. Stay away from scrubs, shower gels, and toothpaste with Polyethylene, which are tiny plastic particles.
  2. Choose products in glass rather than plastic containers, e.g. juice, tomato sauce and cooking oil.
  3. Recycle print cartridges: Several manufacturers offer free return with postage-paid return envelopes Others offers to buy your used printer cartridges (and need I mention print on both sides of the paper …).
  4. Bring your own (cloth) bags when shopping. In Denmark, this can save you up to 1000 DKK (135 Euro) per year. And stop the friendly shop assistant before he/she automatically puts items in a (free) plastic bag for you.
  5. If you live in a country with clean tap water: Drink it, instead of buying bottled water.
  6. Say no to straws in cafes and restaurants.
  7. Try to avoid buying polyester clothes – go instead for cotton, wool and silk (although difficult with sportswear).
  8. Show your support to environmentally friendly shopping initiatives such as Danish Naturlig hverdag and packaging free Løs Market, the London packaging free Unpackaged, and the German packaging free Unverpackt. They are all on Facebook.

By Kirsten Bukager

I am a Danish writer and visual artist. After several years in The Netherlands, I am back in my home country. M.Sc. in International Business Administration and Modern Languages fra Copenhagen Business School, Communication and Online Journalism studies at Webster University and London School of Journalism. Bachelor in Education. I have worked with communications and marketing for many years, and recently changed path to teaching (Danish language, Art, Social Studies). I have always had a creative mind and filled many drawing blocks and canvases. I write for pleasure. Most of my stories are about places and people I encounter on journeys around the world. I have an eye for cultural and social subtleties, and I am especially interested in travel and the arts. Drop me a line if you are interested in my art, my teaching, or if you have a question or comment. And feel free to follow me on Instagram.