According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, roughly 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year. In the United Kingdom, this translates to around 5000 items of marine plastic pollution per mile of beach. The plastic items in the ocean are mostly single-use plastic products, such as plastic bottles and straws, which break down into micro-particles, or plastic-dust. These plastic micro-particles have been found inside fish, birds, and a range of other life, including humans.
More recently, scientists have discovered that micro-plastics are also found in soils, terrestrial plants, as well as in the Earth's atmosphere. Because plastics are a persistent, non-biodegradable and lightweight material, they fragment into tiny pieces that can easily be carried by the wind and water. This means that no location is free from plastic pollution in the form of particles.
A study by Utah State University estimated that more than 1000 tonnes of plastic micro-particles fall as rain each year in protected and remote areas of nature, such as in the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park. Meanwhile, London was found to have the highest levels of atmospheric micro-plastic pollution compared to other major cities in China, France, and Germany. When the plastic rain was analysed, the micro-particles were found to be from the breakdown of synthetic textiles. Fabrics such as nylon and polyester made up 92% of the plastic pollution found in the rain. Synthetic fibres enter the water cycle when they are cleaned in a washing machine. These findings underline the importance of reducing plastic pollution by reducing the use and circulation of synthetic fashion materials.
Living plastic free, doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are a few tips on ways to get started.
1. Choose Clothes Made from Natural, Organic and Recycled Natural Fabrics
Natural, organic, and recycled natural fabrics are the preferable choice in terms of overall sustainability and they do not contribute to micro-plastic-micro pollution. Fabrics such as linen, recycled cotton and silk are comfortable, breathable and long-lasting.
2. Carry Your Own Reusable Water Bottle
Globally, only around 9% of all plastic every produced has been recycled. However, you can easily reduce your contribution to single-use plastic by carrying your own reusable water bottle. In the United Kingdom, one charity estimated that you can also save up to £400 a year by refilling your bottle with only tap water.
3. Say No to Disposable Straws
It is estimated as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world's beaches each year. The good news is many countries and regions, including all of the European Union, are banning single- use straws as early as 2021. In the meantime, why not swap the plastic straw with an alternative, like a bamboo straw, or a long-lasting stainless steel straw, which are not only reusable, they are easily cleaned and highly durable. Reusable straws are easy to carry and can be taken to any picnic, party or travel destination.
4. Responsible Mask Wearing and Disposal
Finally, while we live in the time of a global pandemic, dispose of your mask responsibly and wear a reusable mask made from natural fibres, if possible.
Stay safe, healthy and enjoy plastic-free living and travel.
At Voya we pledge to be single plastic free by 2021, we currently spend a lot of time sourcing and developing new fabrics that are organic and recycled. There is still a lot more we can do, and now are working to produce in a more sustainable way which is one of our goals as a business. We promise to continually work towards a better future.