The UK needs to step up when it comes to tackling environmental issues – take as proof the fact that already, less than a month into 2017, we’ve reached our limit for air pollution for the whole year. But, probably most important of all, we need to reduce our waste as a nation – we need to refuse single-use plastic.
Ok, we’ve done something. We’ve taxed plastic bags, and that’s made a big difference. Before the tax, we were using as a nation around 7.6 billion single-use plastic carrier bags every year. That’s appalling, especially when you pause to think that those bags are going to be around for hundreds of years before even beginning to break down. This number has dropped by over 70% since the tax was enforced, though, which is good news for the planet.
Image credit: gov.uk
But I think that Environment Minister Therese Coffey was taking a bit far by saying this in reaction to the tax: “It will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner and future generations won’t be saddled with mountains of plastic taking hundreds of years to break down in landfill sites.”
I’m sorry, Ms Coffey, but we’re going to need to do a lot more than put a 5p tax on a plastic bag to achieve that. The least we could do is ban plastic bags, and that’s before even considering the many other single-use plastic items that we consume in our everyday lives.
Take the fact that a number of states in America, starting with California, have banned plastic bags – if they can do it, why can’t we? San Francisco have even gone as far as to ban plastic bottles – that’s great, as plastic bottles are just as terrible for the planet (you just have to look at our other blog posts to learn that!).
So why aren’t we, here in the UK, trying to save the environment too? We need to put pressure on those higher up to make a change, or soon it’ll be too late to make a difference. We’re trying our hardest to raise awareness of the environmental impact of plastic, and that’s why we’re petitioning to get UK supermarkets to stock non-plastic packaged water alternatives, so that we at least have the option to refuse plastic. Of course, this isn’t going to solve plastic pollution – just as the tax on plastic bags won’t. But it’s about taking baby steps towards a bigger goal, and we’re positive that we can make the world a cleaner place. Eventually.