Plastic pollution has quickly become one of the most pressing global issues, presenting a serious threat to both environmental and human health. Over 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year, half of which is used to design single-use items such as disposable contact lenses, straws, or cups.1 As such items often end up as deadly waste in landfills and the ocean, having a detrimental impact on the environment. Global movement, Plastic Free July, urges people to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics throughout the month of July in a bid to combat widespread pollution.
If you want to make some changes to your life and become part of the solution to the plastic pollution crisis, here are 5 tips to help you refuse or reduce the consumption of single-use plastics in July and beyond.
- Choose a more sustainable solution for your vision correction
While contact lenses and glasses are often overlooked when thinking of ways to reduce your plastic footprint, their widespread consumption is actually starting to have a huge impact on the environment. In the UK alone, more than 4 million people use a total of nearly 800 million contact lenses each year, with a staggering 97% of these contact lens wearers contributing to plastic pollution through uncontrolled disposal.2 Millions of used lenses are frequently flushed down the toilet or sink, entering our water systems and potentially ending up in our oceans. Just like plastic straws and other single-use items, they break up into microplastics and pose a severe threat to marine life.
Making more informed and sustainable vision correction choices can be an important step towards living a life with less waste. Alternative solutions such as laser eye surgery or intraocular lens surgery are long-term options that eliminate the need for single-use plastics such as contact lenses, therefore reducing the plastic waste in landfills and waterways. By booking in for a free consultation at one of clinics across the UK and Ireland, we can assess your suitability for treatment and help you on your way towards a Plastic Free July.
- Embrace eco-friendly alternatives when doing your weekly shop
From drinks and snacks to fresh fruit and vegetables, we all know that the shelves of our local supermarkets are filled to the brim with plastic packaging. By making some small changes, however, you can make your weekly shop a lot more eco-friendly. Buying loose fruit and vegetables and avoiding meat, fish and deli items in plastic trays are some of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in your shopping bag. Besides this, stocking up on essential items in zero-waste or bulk shops can help you avoid plastic packaging, as these allow you to bring your own reusable produce bags, containers, or glass jars.
- Switch to refillable or plastic free household products
Opting for refillable or plastic free household staples is another way in which you can make a dent in the consumption of single-use plastics. Switching out packaged bathroom supplies like shower gels for alternatives such as bars of soap is an easy way to avoid waste. Besides this, opting for a bamboo toothbrush is a simple swap that can make a big change. If you are looking to take it a step further, zero-waste stores also offer refill services for cleaning products such as laundry detergent and washing-up liquid, allowing you to reuse plastic bottles rather than having them end up in landfill.
- Pick up street litter or participate in a clean-up event
Committing to collecting a few pieces of litter while you are out and about in your local area is a great way of helping to reduce plastic waste. Not only does it keep our streets clean and tidy, it also prevents single-use plastics from reaching our waterways and ocean, where they form microplastics and harm marine life. Keen to do more? Organising beach clean-ups, like those launched by Optical Express in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), will help keep your local beach clean and plastic free.
- Look for reusable and eco-friendly party decorations
As we are slowly emerging from the global Covid-19 pandemic, events such as weddings, birthdays and baby showers are all on the cards again. By opting for more eco-friendly alternatives to balloons and other single-use party decorations, we can prevent these disposable plastics from ending up in landfill or being blown down drains, eventually ending up in our rivers and ocean. Balloon releases should also be avoided as there is a high chance that these will land in sea, threatening wildlife and spreading toxins.
So, this Plastic Free July, we urge everyone to take responsibility and explore what steps you can take to reduce single-use plastic waste at home, work, and in your community. Making small changes to our day-to-day lives will collectively make a massive difference, and together we can make our world more sustainable for current and future generations.
1IUCN Marine Plastics Issues Brief
2Optical Express Survey of Contact Lens UsersBook Your Free Consultation