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Ocean Polluting Plastics


The world is beginning to wake up to the dire situation in our oceans and waterways, with plastic detritus both large and tiny causing catastrophic suffering and the decimation of sealife and plants. Images of dead baby albatrosses and plastic-infested whales along with many other marine mammal species are plain to see online every day and thankfully evangelists like David Attenborough and dedicated activists around the world are making real inroads into the human response to this crisis. We are finally recognising the oceans as a vital resource and one which we rely on for healthy food, clean air and water and an important ecosystem to control global warming. 

It's just the beginning though, and radical steps still need to be taken globally to reduce the amount of everyday plastic used and to combat its ocean disposal. Green Tourism campaigned last year for the reduction of plastic use in teabags and supported the government ban on disposable plastic straws and stirrers; this year we are backing the #oneless campaign launched by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) which is encouraging everyone to ditch single use plastic water bottles (many thousands of which end up polluting the River Thames every year) and stick with refillable bottles instead, promoting water fountains and a refill culture across London, with water points available in cafes and throughout the capital. Tap water is generally perfectly fine to drink and we are following ZSL's lead by encouraging Green Tourism members to save 1 million plastic bottles over the course of a year: the hospitality industry is one of the leading culprits when it comes to single use plastic but we are pleased to say our members are streets ahead when it comes to eco awareness. From placing reusable glass bottles of tap water by bedsides to actively offering to refill guest's own bottles, there is a lot that even the smallest B&B business can do. 

What has become even more alarming is the research emerging about microplastics, mostly invisible to the naked eye but nonetheless potentially lethal, because these tiny plastics are releasing greenhouse gases in terms of methane and carbon dioxide which is only adding to our woeful carbon emissions levels. Microplastics are the result of the breakdown of discarded consumer products and industrial waste, and even through washing of synthetic clothing containing minute plastic particles which get into the water/drainage systems, and it's now believed that microplastics are an even bigger elimination challenge.

So what can we do as individuals? Trying to source clothing that is made from organic natural fibres like cotton makes a big difference, not just to avoid microplastics but also pesticide use (a massive problem in the mainstream cultivation of cotton), so do bear this in mind for staff uniforms as well as personal shopping. An effort to reuse or re-sell plastic-based products within the community through online forums and selling platforms, for example, can only help to foster a less disposable culture and we all need to try fix more and relace less, when it come to thing like domestic appliances. 

Supermarkets are beginning to shift their over-packaging approach somewhat with pilot schemes to encourage paper and compostable wrapping rather than plastic for fruit and veg and Boots has just announced they will stop providing plastic bags entirely, instead offering paper alternatives. So some progress is being made on the retail front, but meanwhile we all need to be vigilant with our home and business plastic recycling. Every single piece counts.

We'll be keeping our members and friends informed of all the latest developments in helping to turn the tide of ocean plastic pollution, so keep an eye on our regular blogs and online activity. And don't forget to share your own stories of how you avoid plastic or maybe run a plastic-free enterprise - we're always keen to hear about your achievements and tips - just drop us an email or feel free to post our Facebook page or Tweet. We're in this togther...

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