The Marine Conservation Society has been organizing The Great British Beach clean for 26 years. It is a week each year that highlights the damage that plastic pollution is doing to our beaches and oceans, and encourages individuals to reduce their plastic consumption, and help clear up the mess left behind from our overconsumption of plastic products. So far, MCS estimates that they have cleaned up 319 tonnes of litter at their Great British Beach cleans. Despite the ongoing restrictions as a result of the global pandemic that we are currently experiencing, people are still being encouraged to take part in beach cleans from the 18th – 25th of September 2020. Rather than encouraging volunteers to find a big beach clean near them, they are asking people to find a 100m stretch of beach near them, and with friends or family or people in their bubble, picking up any litter within this stretch.
Whilst cleaning up our beaches is always important, it is currently even more prevalent as a result of an increase in plastic waste during the last 6 months. During the pandemic, there was an exponential increase in the use of single-use plastic PPE, much of it being used by the general public who don’t have the capabilities to dispose of it properly. This was mainly made up of surgical masks, which are being littered on the streets, and make their ways into the waterways. Surgical masks are made from polypropylene , which is a derivative of plastic and therefore takes many years to break down. Surgical masks cannot be recycled, and are intended to be incinerated in a hospital setting. However with new regulations across the world making the wearing of masks mandatory, many members of the general public have been using them once and then not disposing of them properly, throwing them on the floor, or in the bin where they eventually end up in landfill, or worse, in the ocean. This is terrible for marine wildlife, and wildlife in general. Plastic does not ever fully decompose, and therefore will live for years before it is broken down into smaller pieces, which further pose issues to wildlife if ingested. Masks have been found in the stomachs of sea turtles, wrapped around the beaks and ankles of gulls and seabirds, and caught up in coral. It is estimated that soon there will be more masks in the sea than jellyfish, and we want to change that.
At Bags of Ethics, we believe in creating products that are reusable not disposable. As well as taking part in beach cleans this September, we are also encouraging you to make small adaptions to your life which means that there will be less plastic on the beaches to clean up in the first place. One small change that you can make is to use a reusable mask instead of a disposable one. Our reusable face coverings can be reused over 50 times , meaning that’s 50 less disposable ones that are saved from entering our oceans. Another thing that you can do is use a reusable tote instead of a plastic bag. At Bags of Ethics we are renowned for our totes, with each one saving over 5,000 plastic bags from being used. Take this time to help make a real difference to our oceans and reduce your plastic consumption, and do your part by going to pick up any rubbish on beaches near you. If we all do our part we can help to make a real difference.
To shop our reusable masks visit https://bagsofethics.org/shop/ or to find out more about beach clean ups near you, visit https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean.
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