5 easy ways we can start helping ourselves and the planet.

Sir David Attenborough. A national treasure. An inspiration worldwide. A name that will live on long after he’s gone due to his life long passion with nature and dedicating his life to promoting the need for an environment that is clean, sustainable and spectacularly diverse. Is it surprising that his speech during the NTA awards was the only speech to receive a standing ovation from celebrities and move the entire nation to tears?

When you see a man of 91 years old give a speech that captures every person regardless of age, race, religion, gender or other groups, we can clearly see this is something we all care about so we really need to stop and ask…

What can I do to help?

After all, pollution isn’t something that anybody wants; I have never met a person who has been in favour of an ocean full of plastics or streets littered with crushed cans. Here are 5 easy steps that we can all start from today to save us money but more importantly, help protect the planet.

1. Be conscious of the difference we can make and change consumption habits.

One of the biggest differences and easiest ways we can help the planet as consumers is simply by stopping and not purchasing plastic bottles.

Benefits

+ You will save money not having to keep purchase a new bottle. Simply keep refilling your long lasting bottle.

+ You will be healthier. (If you drink your water from a steel water bottle like this then you will not be consuming micro plastics like most people sadly do when they drink from plastic bottles).

+  You will be helping to stop the rise in the use of plastic. Right now, plastic use is growing at a rate of around 4% every year in Western Europe. An increase is definitely not benefiting the climate due to the amount of oil it takes to make plastic (which we only use for around 12 minutes on average).

+ You will feel better. By drinking from one sustainable bottle shows an increase in productivity, awareness and happiness.

plastic bottle by the sea

Check out a whole different range of sustainable drinking bottles here. Perfect for hot or cold drinks!

 

2. Recycle. Upcycle. Just don’t end the cycle.

Ripped clothes, empty coffee cans or unwanted shoes. Rather than allowing them to be thrown away or collect dust in a wardrobe, why not try see if you can do something creative with these materials? Or better yet, see if anybody else can do something creative with these unwanted materials.

I enjoy taking unwanted materials from broken chairs to wine corks to anything else I can get my hands on then handmaking gifts that will give these materials a new purpose, helping to keep the cycle going rather than have even more materials end up in landfill or even worse, the ocean. Be creative and have fun with it!

You can see my handmade gifts here. If you are or know somebody who enjoys eco-friendly gifts, then there will be something you will love! Also, there is free postage to anywhere in Europe for a limited time.

 

3. Help your health by Changing your toothbrush

eco friendly toothbrush
£2.75 for a toothbrush that WILL add value to your life. Check them out here.

 

This literally sounds barbaric. How can changing your toothbrush help the planet? Right now, the majority of people use plastic brushes to brush their teeth. Not only is this bad for your health but it could also be harming the environment with the amount of oil it takes to produce billions of unnecessary brushes every year along with the microplastics going down the sink.

Saying that, why just stop at your toothbrush? If you can find any eco-friendly alternatives to plastic products, then give it a go as it will give your possessions much more worth which will give yourself more value. The only reason I say toothbrush is because when you brush every morning and night (well I hope so) then you will be starting your day and ending your day in a positive way by reminding yourself what an amazing difference to the environment you are making.

I have purchased a number of eco-friendly products including my toothbrush from this site so check it out if you want to also make a difference.

 

4. See the difference you can make by becoming a Volunteer.

Most people will say “I don’t litter so I am not part of the problem” and their right. If nobody littered, then we would have a clean environment which would save the UK government hundreds of millions every year. The sad fact is, billions of items are littered around the world and that means they get in water ways, rivers, streams, streets and every other place you can imagine.  This has a greater impact that people may realise.

While I am not saying that you must spend every second of every minute picking up littered items, you can still make a difference by getting involved when you have some free time. Even if you picked up one item a day, over a year that is 364 materials that are less harm to animals all over the world. Maybe you could make a fun activity from volunteering; I spoke to one woman who picks litter with her children. Not only is this a way of spending time with her children but she also told me “it helps me stay active and teach the children the importance of a clean environment”. Parents reading this may think ‘picking litter with my children, that could be dangerous… no way!’. Well, if you are living in the UK, you can actually apply to be a volunteer in your own time and you will receive a complementary pack (shown below) which will allow you to pick litter safely. You can also log your hours, what you have found and feedback for helping to make your local area cleaner and safer.

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Litter pick welcome pack: You can’t complain with a box full of PG Tips!

What you get in your Welcome Pack

  • Litter picker
  • Red Bags which you can leave at any public bin for collection.
  • Hand sanitation gel
  • Protective gloves
  • Reflective jacket
  • First aid kit
  • Circle ring for easy litter picking
  • Box of PG TIPS!!!

 

Applying takes 30 seconds. If you live in Lancashire then check out this link to apply a volunteer and receive your free welcome pack.

If you do not live in Lancashire, then you can easily apply online by sending an email to your local council or searching “volunteer litter picker (YOUR TOWN/CITY)”.

 

It has been proven in a study that people litter less in areas which are free of litter. What would be a better way of getting to know people in your community than all coming together to help clean your neighbourhood?

 

5. Save money by not purchasing bags from supermarkets.

There is now a minimum charge 5p on plastic bags in the UK in certain stores; rather than hand over a minimum of 5p to companies who are the major culprits for plastic pollution in the first place, take your time to invest in a bag that can not only be used in your day to day life but can also be used to store your groceries in. Plastic bags are so unnecessary, yet they are one of the biggest dangers in the ocean (more dangerous than those Great White Sharks we are warned about! Read about the dangers of plastic bags here).

I think these bags are good as they are strong, light and just much more practical than a plastic bag which really is just making us walking billboards for 12 minutes! (plastic bags are only used for an average of 12 minutes, how crazy is that to think they will be here hundreds of years after we are gone!). Due to amount of harm plastic bags are having, It really is no surprise that more and more companies are avoiding plastering their logos on plastic bags anymore.

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As many people have said, “These are not unreasonable steps. They may only be small steps but if people make that effort to help the environment then in just a short amount of time, we will see a huge difference”.

Share this post and like the page so that you can encourage others to get involved.

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Week 4: Cigarette Butts

The UK fixed penalty fine for a littered cigarette butt is £75. It seems many people are taking their chance when around 200 million cigarettes are discarded daily in the UK alone.

Cigarette litter accounts for one in every five items collected on clean ups across the world ranking it number 1 on the most littered items list. Because of that, we really need to wonder, why is it happening and what can we do to stop cigarette litter completely.

Whether you smoke or not, nobody really enjoys cigarettes. Otherwise, we would probably take the time to put them in the ashtrays of our cars rather than throwing them out the window while driving or maybe we would place them in our pockets until we reach the next bin so that we can dispose of them properly. But why would we want to do that when we know they would ruin our clothes or make our clean cars smell bad? It makes more sense to throw them on the floor and make them somebody else’s problem doesn’t it?

cigarette butt.jpg
group of cigarette butts.

 

Cigarette litter is a huge threat to the environment; not just in terms of wildlife mistaking the butts for food and dying but also because cigarettes which have not been properly put out are the result of thousands of forests fires every year which are putting people, animals, livelihoods and everything in its path in serious danger.

The average cigarette weighs around 1 gram, that means the finished end weighs no more than .2 of a gram; when you consider this fact, it’s hardly surprising to think that billions of cigarette butts are making their way into our oceans, stream and rivers. This isn’t good for our health when you consider those toxins are coming through the taps we turn on. To think you tell your children the dangers of smoking when really they could be drinking the toxins every time we turn the tap on is rather worrying.

tap water.jpg

 

There needs to be a serious change in the way we see cigarette litter. Clearly a £75 fine is not enough as people are still taking the chance daily as they know the probability of being cause is low.

While governments propose tax increase to help cure the cost of cleaning up litter, here are some effective initiatives that have been put in place to reduce cigarette litter which I think are more sustainable;

 

Cigarette pit falls

 

drop it cigarette pits.jpeg
www.nobutts.co.uk allowing people and companies to place these bins in common smoking areas.

 

Here, one company has started promoting cigarette reduction by creating bins which people and companies can place bins in common littered areas where people passing can throw their cigarettes? Seems ideal! You can still throw your cigarettes on the floor, but you are actually throwing them to be recycled rather than harming the environment, and you don’t even have to go out of your way!

 

 

Rewarding people who collect cigarette litter

 

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Would you be likely to give up some of your time if you could receive money for picking up littered cigarette ends? Many people across the world do this for free because they have a passion for outdoors and would like future generations to have the chance to see the outdoors like we can but other people would prefer a physical reward for their time.

That’s why Wellington City councillers in New Zealand introduced a scheme where people can collect littered cigarette butts, take them to a place to be weighed where they will cashed in people to do as they wish with their earnings.

From what I have read here, the scheme came about to reduce the amount of beggars in the inner city which seems quite unethical as it is a way of brushing a serious problem under the carpet. Saying that, I still like the concept and believe that corporations as well as other governments allowing this could create similar schemes to encourage a reduction in cigarette litter.

 

 

Cigarette poll bins

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Image showing a bin where smokers can vote their answer by disposing cigarettes properly.

Now this is my personal favourite. One clever company, BallotBin, have creatively made bins which have been designed as polls where people vote by placing their discarded cigarette butts. For me, I think this is a very clever of not only getting people to see the amount of cigarette butts that are discarded but it is also a clever way of stopping people to actually finish their cigarette and dispose of the butt in a fun way; hopefully next time that person who needs to discard their cigarette butt will do so correctly.

 

This week I have not created any particular item from cigarette butts however I have been in contact with my local MP who forwarded my message on to the Director of Environment and Leisure in my local town of Blackburn with Darwen; it is my aim to create bins that will promote cigarette litter by also asking people questions where people vote with their cigarette butts; I will intend to make these bins from littered aluminium cans rather than using new materials. I don’t want to make these though until I have places where I know they will be put to use; the director told me via e-mail that they will discuss my plans with the recycling officer and come back to me shortly so I look forward to that.

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Anyway, the next time you go to throw your butt on the floor, take 30 seconds to walk to the bin because chances are, there will be one close by.

Week 1 – Plastic containers 

Week 2 – Plastic Bags 

Week 3 – Plastic bottle caps (This coming Sunday I will use littered plastic bottle caps)

Week 4 – Cigarette butts 

Week 5 – Aluminium

 Week 3: Trash to Treasure (Re-using Plastic bottle caps)

Over the next 5 weeks I am re-using the litter I pick to create new items that will give purpose to somebody and hopefully preventing that same plastic from ending up as litter once again.

Last week I used littered plastic bags which you can read about here. The focus this week is on re-using plastic bottle caps. Something small but when you consider its purpose, chances are a littered bottle cap equals a littered plastic bottle as it serves no use anymore. You may probably still say that a plastic bottle is only small and insignificant but when we stop to consider that it takes 400-1000 years for a plastic bottle to decompose then that soon adds up over just a persons’ lifetime!

According to a guardian report in June 2017, A million plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute. Those millions of barrels of oil being wasted to produce these dangerous plastic bottles every year could be put to better use such as fuelling cars, communities or better yet, being left in the ground so that we are actually helping to reduce sea temperatures from rising and meet targets set out in the Paris Agreement. Rather than using sustainable alternatives, unfortunately production in plastic bottles has increased and is expected to increase even further in the coming years which can only foresee a sad future whether it’s for you, me, an animal on the endangered list or some small town that is prone to droughts or floods.

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If those Polar bears in the Arctic are to stand any chance of survival, then change must happen while we still have time.

polar bear

Here are two simple but effective steps you can take that will help towards a sustainable future, one where Polar bears are no longer endangered;

Deposit Return Scheme  

Countries all over the world have introduced plastic bottle return schemes and given the success of the scheme, it is now time for the UK to get implement that same scheme so that there is a reduction in the amount of bottles ending up in our oceans, streets and beaches.

Not only will you be helping the environment, but you will also be giving yourself the chance to get cash back for your bottles. Think about all those drinks you had over the Christmas period and the money you could save! For the Polar Bears, take 30 seconds and sign the petition at Greenpeace below to show that you would like a plastic bottle deposit scheme in the UK.

https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/bottle-deposit

greenpeace plastic bottle petition.png
Want to save money just by returning waste? Sign the petition here.

 

Make the decision to Say NO.

Saying no to the use of plastic bottles is not only healthier for the environment but it can also be healthier for your body (watch this video to see 10 shocking facts about plastic pollution, number 10 will shock you!) and your wallet! If you take the time to invest in a bottle that will last year’s, then chances are you won’t make those impulse purchases of drinks that you don’t actually want which can only be healthier for your wallet. Check out sustainable bottles here.

Making the change from using plastic bottles to suddenly never using them again can seem like a hard thing to do. An easier start for yourself may be focusing on just one change to a more sustainable bottle. For example, the next time you do your shopping, instead of purchasing the drink you like in the plastic bottle, try and find the same or similar drink but in a more sustainable packaging like cardboard or paper. If you can’t find an alternative, then you really need to ask if that drink is value for money considering what it is doing to the environment.

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Can our favourite drink really taste that good when we stop to think the impact we are having on the environment?

 

They may seem like very simple steps but with more and more people making those small changes and supporting change really does help to create a sustainable future.

 

As I said at the start, this week I have been focusing on using plastic bottle caps that have been littered to create something that promotes for a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. I had a lot of fun trying to make a bunch of different things with the bottle caps and if you have children, grandchildren or even pupils then you could really make some fun projects while also teaching the importance of keeping our environment clean.

 

littered plastic bottle caps transformed into fun garden feature
1) Littered plastic bottle caps attached to a littered bucket I found that is now a fun garden feature.
littered bottle caps upcycled fridge magnets
2) Took less than 5 minutes to create these fridge magnets to keep memos attached to the fridge. 

If you like what I do then take your time to give my page a like to stay up to date with other ways we can reduce litter. Also, if you like my creations then check out my shop to see a whole range of handmade gifts that have been made from littered materials!

 

Week 1 – Plastic containers 

Week 2 – Plastic Bags 

Week 3 – Plastic bottle caps (This coming Sunday I will use littered plastic bottle caps)

Week 4 – Cigarette butts – This will be scheduled for the 21/01/2018. 

Week 5 – Aluminium