Saving Our Oceans
The news that McDonald's will replace plastic straws with paper ones across all outlets in Ireland and the UK by September brought to mind a recent interview I did with fitness expert, blogger, influencer and Global Ambassador for Adidas, Zanna Van Dijk.
At just 25, this Dutch-English leggy blond personal trainer from Sheffield has reached what many might call the pinnacle of her career having graced the covers of numerous fitness and style magazines while recently headlining London’s annual Balance Festival where I met with her midst the festival frenzy.
Parley and Plastic Oceans
Aside from her passion for a healthy body and mind, Van Dijk works alongside Adidas - and more specifically their collaboration with environmental group Parley for the Oceans to help eliminate ocean plastic one step at a time. From beach cleans in Bali to modelling their latest recreated sneakers, Van Dijk is committed to change. "I have zero qualifications to speak about the environment," she says, "but I’m a good facilitator and people want to listen (think 160,00 followers and counting), I believe my role is not only in changing my own lifestyle and making sustainable swaps but sharing these swaps and my experiences with others online, to educate them about the issue and empower them to make the change too.”
In the last 10 years alone we have produced more plastic than over the course of the whole century. o quote statistics: that's 100 billion plastic drink bottles a year and 500 billion plastic bags a year or over a million bags a minute. "Crazy, when you think the average plastic bags 'working life' is 15 minutes total," she adds. "We dump 8 million tonnes of plastic into the ocean each year and, if we don't do something about it, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, if not sooner."
Plastic pollution is urgently threatening the whole underwater ecosystem. This, combined with climate change, is leading to some seriously worrying damage to the ocean. Over 1,000,000 seabirds are killed by plastic pollution in the oceans each year, not to forget the 300,000 dolphins and porpoises and the numerous seals, sharks, whales, turtles, fish and more.
What About Recycling?
Van Dijk adds that even if we recycle our plastic, which is of course much better than just binning it, this isn’t enough. Firstly, plastic is usually down-cycled and made into secondary non-recyclable products that generally require new plastic for packaging (eg bottles). Secondly, producing recycled materials uses copious amounts of energy. A better solution would be to reduce the use of plastics altogether.
What We Can Do?
We know there is no magic wand to and that massive change is needed on a global scale top tip the scales in the sustainable direction, but there are some simple steps we can all take to reduce our plastic consumption and make a difference. Van Dijk recommends the following for starters:
- Don’t use plastic straws. In the US & UK alone 550 million are thrown away each day.
- Skip plastic bottles. Try a reusable bottle instead. We use over 100 billion plastic drinks bottles a year.
- Skip paper coffee cups as most of them are lined with plastic to make them waterproof (15 billion are used a year in the US alone.)
- Use reusable bags. Worldwide we throw away over 1 trillion plastic bags a year.
- Ditch the disposable razor. In the US over 2 billion are thrown away each year.
- Say no to gum. It is made of plastic and over 100,000 tonnes of it are thrown away each year.
- Avoid beauty products with microbeads. Over 300,000 plastic beads are found in a single tube of face wash. These are banned in the UK!.
- Switch up your feminine care. Most tampons and pads contain plastic. Try switching to other sustainable feminine products.
- Sip on loose-leaf tea. Most teabags are laced with plastic. A good biodegradable tea brand is Teapigs
After all, to quote Captain Paul Watson:
IF THE OCEANS DIE, WE DIE