Plastic not so fantastic – Protecting our Blue Planet for the future

Plastic ocean

Thanks to David Attenborough’s latest Blue Planet II documentary we are now re-thinking how we dispose of our plastic waste.

Up to 12 million tonnes of plastics is deposited directly into our oceans which is equivalent to 60,000 giant blue whales (the largest known animal on our planet!).

You probably haven’t come across the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ which is surprising as it measures 3x times the size of France and 2x the size of Texas. It contains at least 79,000 tons of discarded plastic and covers an area of 617,800 square miles (1.6 million square km)!

Here’s 10 simple tips on reducing our personal plastic footprint to reduce the amount of plastic we use:

  1. The final (plastic) straw – Feel free to ask staff at bars, clubs and restaurants not to put another piece of useless plastic in your drink
  2. Espresso your disgust that all take away cups are not yet recyclable – most cups are lined with a waterproof plastic coating on the inside. Why not invest in a stylish new KeepCup and end coffee cup waste?
  3. Time to send plastic packing – bring your own cardboard box or reusable bags to pack your weekly groceries
  4. Let loose – even our tea bags contain a thin layer of polypropylene plastic which ultimately ends back in our soil. So why not let loose and invest in a simple tea infuser?
  5. Time to stop being clingy – Reducing the use of single use cling film can also have a huge environmental impact. Just think about all the food you probably have in your fridge at home covered in the stuff which is essentially formed from crude oil! Switch to biodegradable bees wax food wraps which are also reusable
  6. Find some new buddies – most people use cotton ear buds just once (you hope). Thank fully nowadays companies have started producing organic biodegradable ear buds so why not make a simple switch and save the planet?
  7. Everything in moderation – Avoid excessive plastic food packaging. So often our fresh food and veg is wrapped in suffocating plastic sheets. Why not opt for the loose fruit and veg plus it has the added bonus of usually being cheaper!
  8. Bead have – microbeads in cosmetics have now been banned in the UK but keep your eye out for products containing polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and even Nylon as these also have harmful environmental effects.
  9. Keep yo’ plastic – Opt for wooden or metal cutlery when dining out or on the go
  10. Last but not least…. Drink up! – as a doctor I’m forever recommending to patients, family and friends to hit their water intake of around 2L a day to maintain a good fluid balance. It’s no wonder we use over 35 million plastic bottles in the UK alone! Invest in a water bottle and help cut plastic bottle waste.

Shocking facts about plastics 

2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK

Less than 1 in every 400 coffee cups gets recycled

Only 9% of all plastic ever has been recycled

9 billion fewer plastic bags have been used in the UK since the 5p charge

In 2050, it has been predicted there will be more bits of plastic in our oceans than fish


Join the movement  

#plasticfreefriday – Friends of the earth campaign

#passonplastic – Sky Ocean Rescue campaign

#plasticpatrol – Fighting plastic pollution in the UK waterways

Take the plastic pledge with @Greenpeace

Call for a plastic deposit scheme – sign up with @Greenpeace

Check out surfers against sewage – plastic pollution is the ‘new sewage’ (


Published by Dr Chris George

NHS doctor working in General Practice.

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