While refusing to drink through plastic straws and recycling food packages is definitely a step in the right direction, these gestures are just the tip of the iceberg.
An eye-watering 8million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans each year, adding to the 150m tonnes that currently circulates in marine life already.
As we head into Plastic Free July, what better time than to put our own lifestyles under the microscope to see if or how we can improve helping improve the environment.
Plastic Free July is a global movement inviting people to join the mission to find solutions to combat pollution so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and communities.
The challenge is simple, all you have to do is choose to refuse single-use plastics.
This means either avoiding single-use plastic altogether; targeting takeaway items such as bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups; or opting to go completely plastic-free.
People who take part in the quest reduce their household waste and recycling by 23kg per person per year, contribute to a total saving of 825m kg of plastic waste each year, with 9 out of 10 people making changes that become habits long after the month is over.
The primary reason single-use plastics impact the environment so poorly are because they slowly break down into smaller pieces known as micro-plastics. It can take thousands of years for them to decompose; contaminating soil and water in the process.
While it may feel like out of sight out of mind, the reality is that when plastic finds its way into the sea, marine mammals are at high risk of becoming tangled in it or swallowing it which affects animals’ food digestion and can lead to a very slow and painful death.
One initiative in particular who are spearheading change, are 4ocean.
Co-founded by two friends, Alex and Andrew, who grew up on the Florida coast, they began their campaigning after going on the surf trip of a lifetime to Bali.
When they arrived, they found the beach was completely covered in plastic, with each wave delivering significant amounts of garbage.
Their eyes were immediately opened to the magnitude of the ocean plastic crisis, and they vowed on the spot to try to do something about it.
Now, Alex and Andrew have created the 4ocean bracelet – with each sale pledging to pull a pound of trash from the ocean.
For just £16 ($20) you can buy a beautiful beaded or braided sea turtle bangle safe in the knowledge that your purchase will result in plastic waste being seized from the sea.
Speaking about their pursuit, the co-founders said: “It will take major systemic changes and the hard work of many great organisations each trying to tackle the crisis in different ways, as well as people like you who are committed to driving change.
“Our work won’t be done until we can walk along our beaches – in Bali, in Haiti, in Florida, and around the world – and see nothing but warm sand and rolling waves.”
So, if you’re looking for inspiration on how to avoid single-use plastic, here are a few ideas; stop using plastic straws (even in pubs); use a reusable bag when shopping; carry a reusable mug if you buy coffee on-the-go; use matches instead of disposable lighters; make freshly-squeezed juice at home rather than buying smoothies in bottles; use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor; give up chewing gum – gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
To get involved, visit: Plastic Free July.
Or buy a bangle, and pull a pound of trash from the sea: 4ocean.