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How can we divers can reduce the amount of plastic in the Ocean?

Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tons and even with the current focus on Plastic pollution the amount of plastic ending up in our oceans is rising, so what can we do to help?
Recycling isn’t good enough; we must lower the amount of plastic we use. Unfortunately, many types of plastic aren’t recyclable. The familiar triangle only indicates the type of plastic (1-7) and many types can’t be recycled. Typically, numbers 2, 4 and 5 plastics can be recycled, but always check with your local facility. Generally speaking, Styrofoam, cling wrap, plastic bags and plastics with food waste are not recyclable. Recycling also requires a lot of energy as the materials must be transported, processed and remanufactured. Lastly, products made from recycled plastic often aren’t recyclable a second time. So, with this in mind below are a number of ways we can lower the amount of plastic we use in the first place.
  1. Plastic-free packaging.
This is a lot easier then most people think it is, it is just a case of thinking about what you want to buy and looking for the plastic-free options and there are a lot of them about
Little things like toilet rolls which come in plastic packaging can be orders online, companies like www.uk.whogivesacrap.org and https://www.thecheekypanda.co.uk/ offer plastic-free toilet paper delivered to your home in easily recitable packaging. https://www.theplasticfreeshop.co.uk/ has a wide range of plastic-free items for the home from bath towels through to cleaning products. Instead of buying your normal shower gel, why not use soap which can be bought in paper packaging and you can now get your hands-on plastic-free toothbrushes, even big brand companies like Colgate are offering plastic-free toothbrushes https://bit.ly/2SGljJy . All it takes is a little forethought and you will be amazing at how much plastic you can remove from your life.

  1. Plastic bottles, cups and food wrapping
During beach cleans one of the most common household plastic items found was bottle caps. Bottle caps are made of a lighter plastic so they tend to float and stay near the surface, where the bottles themselves tend to sink. We do go through a hell of a lot of plastic in this way, from the plastic in our coffee cups to bottles of water when we are outside. This is a little bit more difficult for you to cut out of your life and we will need a bit more help from the companies and worldwide governments to help with this. Yes, you can take a bottle of water out with you but if you are out for a day or it is very warm it is very difficult to take enough water with you so we do need governments to supply more public water fountains so we can refill and shops could advertise refills, they could charge for them a small fee but it would still be cheaper than buying bottled water.
With coffee and teacups we just need to remember to bring our own reusable cups with us, these are easy to find if you don’t already have one and range in price from £5 through to £20 for cups which have thermal properties to keep your tea or coffee warmer for longer, it is just a case of remembering to take it with you. If you are like me this is where things go wrong as I have the memory of a sieve so the way I have worked around it is to keep one at home int eh kitchen and try to remember too that with me but I also keep a clean one in the van for when I forget to bring one with me. Luckily, a lot of companies have started to give away reusable cups as marketing ploys so you can keep an eye out for those and build up a stock of reusable cups just in case you forget as I do.
Plastic food wrapping is probably the hardest one here to limited. Clingfilm (or other brands of plastic wrapping) is not very easily recyclable so it’s not as if we can just make our own sandwiches like mum used to make but we can switch to brown paper bags to put ours sandwiched in or if you prefer a salad, Tupperware boxes are really good, obviously other brands are also available, I have even found that a lot of taking away restaurants deliver their food in hand plastic containers which can easily be washed out and used for lunches or food on the go. So there are ways around it.
If you are picking up food on the go, may I suggest the local sandwich shop as not only do they wrap their food in paper, but you will also be supporting a small local business instead of a large multi-national which is also good for the local environment as they will tend to be using local products?


  1.  Plastic milk bottles
This is a lot easier nowadays as a number of companies have started offering this service, the good old milkman delivering milk in glass bottles every morning. This went off of fashion in the 90’s and 2000’s but is making a big return as people realize that not only is it better for the environment to use glass bottles for your milk but that you can get so many more products delivered with your milk and thus saving you a trip to the shops on your way back from work. They are a number of companies who offer this and most of the UK is now covered so if you want to find your local company offers milk to your front door a quick google search should give you plenty of options.
  1. Plastic bags
Yes, the good old one-use plastic bags which we have all been moving away from since the Government added a tax too and we have been doing a great job of using them less and less but there is another single-use plastic bag we all have in our lives that we need to get rid of, the bin bag. Yes, we may use less bin bags then we used to use shopping bags but it is still plastic which gets thrown away into landfill which can then be broken down into small microplastics which can then work their way into the oceans and then be picked up by marine life and work its way into our food chain. Fortunately, there is an option for us, biodegradable rubbish and composting bags. You can easily find them with a quick google search and you can even find them on places like Amazon (https://amzn.to/2HE0loo) which have a wide range to choose from. You can also find companies like https://kitandkin.com/ which offer smaller bags which are designed for use as nappy bags but can easier be used for cleaning up after fur-babies, or if you can afford to buy in bulk and save money that way why not take a look at the manufacturing companies like this UK based company http://www.biodegradablebag.co.uk/prod3.htm . You see there is always a way around it and all it takes is a little thought and a quick internet search.


  1. Clean-ups
Ok so we have looked at ways for stopping the plastic waste int eh first place but we also need to think about cleaning up the rubbish we have already made. Beach cleans are becoming more and more popular such as with MCS Great British beach clean https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean or the surfers against swage (SAS) beach cleans where you can help organize your own https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/beach-cleans/. Divers also have the opportunity to take part in divers against debris dives https://bit.ly/2HIrGpf or as a diver, you can just pick up a bit of plastic rubbish you find while diving.
Underwater adventures itself will be organizing clean-ups with a difference this summer with river clean-ups. The plan is to get the plastic rubbish inland before it has a chance to wash out to sea and if you would like to take part in a clean up please drop us an email at info@underwateradventures.co.uk and we can add you to the mailing list and keep you informed of our cleanups so you to can do your part.