By Tilly Powell, second year Geography
Around 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans every year. The consumption of plastic is polluting our oceans, killing our wildlife and cannot biodegrade, therefore it is never truly gone. It can seem incredibly daunting and frightening to think about the sheer volume of marine litter we produce, but Martin Dorey in his 2018 book ‘No. More. Plastic.’ helps to provide quick and easy ways that anyone can help reduce consumption of single-use plastics, with the help of the #2minutesolution. Dorey first began to publicise his passion for reducing plastic consumption by creating the #2minutebeachclean post advertised on Instagram. The idea is simple: go to the beach and spend only two minutes of your time picking up litter; and “before long, you’ve achieved something without making much effort at all” (Dorey, M 2018 p.15).
The problem with plastic
Dorey introduces the problems with plastic consumption by describing that it is single-use and does not biodegrade. Dorey defines biodegradable as “something that can be broken down into organic materials without causing harm or leaving toxins behind in a reasonable timescale” (Dorey, M 2018 p.34). Companies try to trick us into thinking that their products are much more environmentally-friendly as they are different types of plastic, such as degradable, oxo-degradable and photo-degradable. However, these materials are ultimately still plastic, the only difference is that they break down into smaller pieces; they are still there.
“Every piece of plastic ever made is still around” (Dorey, M 2018 p.22)
Sometimes when I am trying to make my lifestyle and purchases more sustainable, I wonder if what I’m doing will help to make a difference. How will one person not buying single-use plastics help decrease consumption? Dorey encourages readers to “Vote with your wallet” (Dorey, M 2018 p.47). This means that if we, as a community, stop buying plastics, the producers and companies will eventually have to change the products or they will go out of business. It is not only a simple form of economics, but also a simple solution we can easily follow.
#2minutesolutions for everyday life
Dorey explains a multitude of quick and easy solutions to reducing plastic consumption in our own lives by describing the problem and giving an effortless alternative. Here are just some of his #2minutesolutions that I encourage you try out:
The majority of razors sold are disposable and therefore are thrown away very regularly so that you can move onto a new one. This contributes to the ever-increasing piles of plastic we barely use everyday. So, what is the solution to this? Dorey suggest we use electric razors or safety razors, which not only are much better for the environment but they last much longer and in the long run are a lot cheaper. Why not?
Washing your clothes
I was not aware of this before reading Dorey’s inspiring and informative book, but washing our clothes too regularly ultimately pollutes the oceans. Every time you wash your clothes, micro fibres are released which are too small to be filtered by the washing machine. This becomes a problem when these micro fibres are from manmade materials such as nylon and acrylic as the micro fibres they shed are actually tiny pieces of plastic. What does Dorey suggest we do to prevent this? An easy solution is to stop buying and wearing clothes made from unnatural materials. Yes, they may be cheaper at first, but they do not last as long as natural fibres such as cotton or wool so ultimately you’ll face the consequences, as will ocean wildlife. Another solution is to wash your clothes less frequently and to ensure the machine is full when you use it.
Buying fruit and vegetables
“If only oranges, avocados, bananas, cucumbers, lemons, sweetcorn and grapefruits had their own outer casing or skin that would keep them fresh. Oh, wait a minute…” (Dorey, M 2018 p.89)
Dorey encourages us to look around the shops and notice how the vast majority of fruit and vegetables is being sold to us in plastic bags or plastic wrapping. When will companies realise this is unnecessary? Sometimes this plastic packaging isn’t even recyclable. There are easy solutions to this problem. Dorey suggests that by shopping in local greengrocers we can get great quality fruit and vegetables that aren’t surrounded by plastic. By doing this, you can also reduce your food waste by only buying the amount you will need.
Dorey questions why the majority of toilet paper is sold in lots of plastic wrapping, as we struggle to consider why this is necessary. An easy solution suggested by Dorey in this book is to consider buying recycled toilet paper. Myself and my friends I live with have recently started doing this ourselves. The website https://uk.whogivesacrap.org/ and company Who Gives A Crap provide incredibly sustainable bulk-buying options for your toilet paper that is delivered to your house in a cardboard box, and is wrapped in (very pretty) paper. And what’s more is that 50% of the money you pay for the recycled toilet paper is used to help build toilets around the world and to increase access to clean water.
Dorey’s No. More. Plastic. is an inspiring book that completely transforms one’s outlook on what they are consuming and how this can change. The book is absolutely full of small ways you can adapt your purchases and your lifestyle to reduce plastic consumption, and they can all be done in as little as 2 minutes.
Dorey, M “No. More. Plastic.” 2018
No. More. Plastic. by Martin Dorey is available at https://www.waterstones.com/book/no-more-plastic/martin-dorey/chris-packham/9781785039874
By Tilly Powell