I recently came across this article in the Telegraph, about a litter of baby squirrels whose tails got entangled together by plastic that their mother had unwittingly used build their nest! Their tails had to be separated by a vet, and fortunately, they are all relatively okay.
This is but one example of the unintended consequences of plastic litter. While it’s impossible for individuals to save all wildlife from the perils of plastic entanglement, there are little things we can do collectively to help.
1. Take 3 for the sea (or land).
When you’re out and about, and see small pieces of plastic litter on the ground, pick them up! If you pick up three pieces of plastic litter per day, that’s 21 per week, over 1000 per year! If we all did this, it could make a huge difference.
Picking up three pieces may not seem like much, but if someone else sees you picking up a plastic straw or coffee cup lid and disposing of it properly, and notices that it takes almost no time or effort, they might be inspired to do the same.
2. Segregate your waste.
For many of us, it’s difficult to get through our day-to-day lives without buying things that are plastic or are packaged in plastic, no matter how hard we try. But at the very least, we can make sure we’re disposing of our waste properly.
Ideally, in your home you should have a bin for recyclable hard materials (plastic bottles, aluminum, glass), one for paper, one for food waste (for home or municipal composting), and one for all other waste.
Waste segregation alone can save a lot of rubbish from going unnecessarily to landfill (or potentially migrating to the sea). It can also raise your awareness of just how much single-use disposable plastic you really use.
3. Buy less plastic.
The next time you’re out at the supermarket, keep your eyes open to alternatives to single-use plastics. Consider each purchase and ask yourself if it’s something you really need. If it is, ask yourself if there’s an alternative version you can find in non-plastic packaging. If the answer is no, buy the largest quantity you can find (as long as you’ll use it before its expiration date).
Invest in a reusable water bottle instead of buying water in plastic bottles. Bring cloth produce bags with you to the market, instead of using plastic ones. Bring your own tote bag, and skip the carrier bag.
Once you turn on your awareness, you’ll be amazed how much plastic waste you can save with very little effort or inconvenience. The less plastic you buy, the less likely you are to dispose of it someplace a little fuzzy creature could mistake it for food or nest-building material!