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The Plastic Problem: How You Can Start Making a Difference

WWF South Africa’s new campaign shows that by changing a few of our day-to-day choices, we can tackle plastic pollution.

Around eight-million tons of plastic find their way into our oceans each year, which is transported to coastlines near and far.

Here are some solutions to the top eight problem plastics that allow you to become part of the global movement to use less plastic.

1. SHOPPING BAGS

These are often mistaken for jellyfish floating in the sea, causing turtles to see them as food and thus eat entire plastic bags. This affects their chance of surviv¬al. Buy and use reusable bags that are strong and environmentally friendly.

2. SINGLE-USE CUPS

Globally more than 100 billion single-use cups are discarded every year. Coffee cups also have an inner plastic lining that makes them non-recyclable. Rather carry your own reusable coffee mug.

3. STRAWS

Plastic straws are a common litter item on South African beaches and have been found to kill seabirds when swallowed. There are many reusable options – from glass to steel and even bamboo.

4. WATER BOTTLES

It can take up to 26 litres of water to produce a one-litre plastic bottle and another three litres of water to produce one litre of bottled water. Rather invest
in a reusable glass or stainless steel bottle.

5. EARBUDS

Earbuds, until the 1980s, were made from rolled wax paper. Today they are mostly made of plastic. Look for retailers that stock paper earbuds.

6. LOLLIPOP STICKS

Discarded plastic sucker sticks pose a similar problem to earbuds, as these are often swallowed by seabirds and other marine creatures. Cardboard sucker sticks are a better alternative.

7. SWEET WRAPPERS

These lightweight wrappers are whipped up by the wind and dumped into rivers, lakes and wetlands. They eventually make their way to the sea. Buy unwrapped sweets and store them in your own glass jar.

8. POLYSTYRENE

There is an average density of three pieces of polystyrene per metre of sandy beach in South Africa, and peak values on urban beaches of up to 30 pieces per metre. Polystyrene items are unrecy¬clable. Bring your own container for takeaways, as well as saying no to plastic cutlery and sauce packets.

Let’s rethink, refuse and reuse. Follow @WWFSouthAfrica’s plastic campaign in October to learn how you can #UseLessPlastic and live a life that is #PostPlastic.

IMAGES: Troy Maine/WWF

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