Consumer Rights Day: Time to Demand Change

Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days throughout the year. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of Consumer Rights Day, I introduce our fifth blog in this marine series:

Consumer Rights Day: Time to Demand Change

Today is Consumer Rights Day. What’s Consumer Rights Day I hear you ask? Well, it’s a chance for us all to raise awareness about our consumer rights and needs. Today we’re going to focus on the consumer rights surrounding the plastic problem – a problem that we unfortunately, are all too familiar with.

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We live in a society today that has moved towards single-use plastics because they are convenient and easy. A plastic bag is used for 25 minutes on average but takes between 100-500 years to disintegrate. It’s a terrible design and somehow this has caught on – around 1 million plastic bags are in use around the world every minute. We’ve all watched seen the documentaries and heard about the plastic problem facing modern society but how do we go about tackling it? We hear a lot about how we need to change our ways. But what about the supermarkets and large chain stores that supply us with our food and clothes? It’s virtually impossible to live a normal life, shop cheap and still be able to shop plastic free. Walk down any shopping aisle and most food is sold in plastic containers (apart from the new plastic-free aisles in the Netherlands…yay!). So how on earth are we meant to be able to swap to a plastic free lifestyle? Well. That’s where Consumer Rights Day comes in.

This is our chance to stand up and ask our suppliers, our supermarkets and stores to stock plastic free products. There are loads of alternatives that are possible. I mean, for one thing just swapping out plastic bags for the good old paper bags would go a long way. There are now lots of plastic alternatives coming to the market. And if we can’t completely cut our plastic addiction, there are middle grounds, like plastic additives such as Prodegradant Concentrates (PDCs). As these disintegrate, they turn into CO2, water and biomass that contains no harmful residues. While the additives are not completely biodegradable, PDC-containing polymers are more eco-friendly that our current single-use plastics.

There are also plastic alternatives like milk proteins, chicken feathers (I know!), liquid wood and a selection of polyesters which could all be used to replace plastic (you can read more about these here). So why aren’t suppliers using these? Plastic is cheap and there isn’t enough demand for plastic-free products. Well, the tide is a-changing and the time is a-coming. It’s now that we have to take action and empower our Consumer Rights. It’s time to boycott plastics and show we aren’t OK with the planet being wrecked for ‘convenience’.

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Note: this is how long it takes it to break down (into things like micro-plastics). It does not just disappear after this amount of time! 

Boycotting plastics is the only way that suppliers will change their ways. They meet the demand of their buyers, that is how their business functions. If products suddenly stop selling, they’ll stop stocking it. So, we need to STOP BUYING PLASTICS. And we need to SHOUT ABOUT THIS UNTIL EVERYONE STOPS BUYING PLASTICS. Go for some cool alternatives like:

  • Bamboo toothbrushes – these are cheap! And you can just order them online
  • Go back to your milk man. We used to be more sustainable and promote job creation through this! Find your local milk man and put your order in today.
  • Avoid plastics, save money and cut food waste all at the same time with OddBox.
  • Swap to a re-usable water bottle. Buy yours here (and help save the oceans!).
  • Swap to a re-usable coffee cup and look stylish, save the planet and save money on your daily coffee with EcoffeeCup

If you’re feeling brave, you could even take up Plastic Free Me’s challenge and go Plastic Free for one month! 80% of marine litter is plastic. Joining beach cleans is an easy way to directly combat the problem. Sea Shepherd are running beach cleans all over the world. Sea Shepherd UK is running beach cleans at over 30 locations in the UK alone! Here at Love The Oceans we’ve committed to removing over 100kg of trash from the beaches and oceans in 2018 PLUS whatever has been pledged online – we commit to removing 2kg of trash for every item bought off our website, no matter how big or how small. Want to help? Buy your item here.

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At the end of the day, we’re not asking you to go completely plastic free (although please do if you can!), but we’re asking you to make small lifestyle changes that will change what suppliers sell us as ‘convenient’ and will combat ocean plastics. Whether it’s shopping from ethical brands that use eco-friendly packaging or swapping your plastic bag for a paper or tote bag, all these small changes make a big difference if we all do them.

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