ACADEMY AWARD WINNNG ACTOR JEREMY IRONS IS NO STRANGER TO TAKING CENTRE STAGE. BUT HIS NEXT ROLE, IN A DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTING SOLUTIONS TO THE PRESSING ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS FACING US ALL, COULD WELL BE HIS MOST IMPORTANT YET.
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10 SMALL THINGS
Improving the waste situation often seems an impossible challenge. But nobody is expected to save the world on their own! By making small changes in our lives, together we can all make a huge difference to the world around us. These are our suggestions.
TAKE RE-USABLE BAGS TO THE SHOPS
Five trillion plastic carrier bags are produced each year Eventually, more than 98 per cent end up in landfill. About 200 million litter the countryside. Millions more find themselves in the sea and in the stomachs of marine life.
And we use them for an average of 20 minutes.
To stop the madness and do your bit, get into the habit of taking your own bags to the shops.
Companies such as Onya produce great re-usable bags that fold up to fit in your handbag or pocket.
USE YOUR LOCAL GREENGROCER OR FARMER'S MARKET
Packaging in supermarkets is out of control, especially with fresh fruit and vegetables. Film-wrapped cucumbers? Avocados on a plastic-wrapped tray? There has to be a better way - AND THERE IS.
Shopping at your local farmer's market or greengrocer not only cuts down on plastic packaging (they generally wrap produce in paper bags) but it is also likely to cut down on packaging used to transport the food. You can even take your own containers to re-fill.
It is also CHEAPER. Cutting out the middle man, packaging and often transport costs means farmers markets and local greengrocers can keep costs low.
And for a gorgeous shopping experience check out places like 'Unpackaged' who have a wonderful range of produce, all ready to fill up your own containers.
JOIN A LOCAL BEACH CLEAN-UP GROUP
There are two pieces of litter on the beach for every step you take on one
In the past 21 years, volunteers with the International Coastal Cleanup have cleared millions of pounds of litter from 211,460 miles (340,312 kilometers) of coastline worldwide. That distance is the equivalent of going around the Earth eight times!
You can really make a difference to our environment by taking part in one of the fantastic beach clean ups that go on around the world.
Not only will you be directly saving marine life and ensuring beaches stay beautiful but you will also be making new friends and soaking up some sunshine!
TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH AND THE ENVIRONMENT AT THE SAME TIME
Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months. This works out at roughly 320 toothbrushes per person over the course of their life. But where do you think these end up?
Many marine birds have been discovered with WHOLE toothbrushes inside their stomachs.
By opting for a non-plastic toothbrush you are directly avoiding another item that will inevitably end up in the ocean, the ground, or at worst, inside an animal.
SPREAD THE WORD!!!
One of the most important things we can all do is to tell friends, family, colleagues, anyone who will listen, about how important it is to reduce our waste and help make our planet cleaner and safer for all.
Inspire people by making changes yourself and hopefully they will follow!
DON'T DROP YOUR CIGARETTE BUTTS
Cigarette butts contain millions of toxins that are especially deadly to marine life. 4.5 TRILLION filters from smoked cigarettes make their way into the environment every year.
This is normally through butts being dropped and ending up in drains and then into water.
There are easy and eco-friendly ways to deal with this - one of them being a portable ashtray. This ensures that your butts are dealt with when you're on the move until you can dispose of them responsibly.
GET CREATIVE WITH WRAPPING PAPER
8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper is used each year - the equivalent of approximately 50,000 trees. And most of this ends up in landfill NOT in recycle plants.
Get creative and look around you for other ways to present your gifts, from old maps to vintage scarves. Not only will you be helping our planet but your gifts will look better than everyone else's!
HAVE A NICE (FOR THE ENVIRONMENT) CUP OF TEA
165,000,000 cups of tea are drunk in the UK every single day. Thats a lot of teabags!
A report by Which? found that teabags produced by top tea manufacturers such as Tetley, PG Tips, Twinnings, Clipper and Typhoo are only between 70-80% biodegradable.
The rest is made of polypropylene. And as we all know, plastic does not biodegrade!
Make a big difference by changing your normal teabag for a fully-biodegradable one - or even try using loose tea.
SWITCH FROM DISPOSABLE TO CLOTH NAPPIES (DIAPERS)
3 billion disposable nappies are thrown away each and every year in the UK, 90% of these are landfilled.
A baby in disposables will need about 4,000 nappy changes in total, that’s 4,000 disposable nappies in a landfill site. FOR ONE BABY. (information from Lizzie's Nappies)
Using cloth nappies takes some getting used to but the individual difference it makes is huge!
STOP USING DISPOSABLE PLASTIC BOTTLES
We throw away 200 BILLION litres of water bottles a year. Need we say anymore?
Why not invest in a re-usable bottle. There are hundreds of options out there to fit in with you and your family's lifestyle and you will be making a real difference to the mountains of plastic bottle waste that threaten our environment. The same thing goes for your daily morning coffee - why not invest in a reusable cup rather than throwing out a disposable one every day?
And encourage tap water whenever you can by asking for it in restaurants, cafes and at friend's houses. Its all about spreading the word!