At KASHKA our earth and environment is always on our mind. As a business that sources materials from Colombia and Australia, has workshops in the UK and Spain, and also delivers products globally, we are conscious about our carbon footprint, plastic pollution and ensuring we make as little negative impact on the world as possible.
After all, looking after our oceans, forests, air, animals and humans is important.
One topic that has been heavily reported in the news over the past few months after the airing of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, is plastic. Everything we do is harming our environment, the wildlife and the inhabitants of the ocean. To quote Sir David Attenborough himself (and to take a more brutal approach to the topic), “the future of humanity, and indeed all life on earth, now depends on us”. It comes as no surprise then, that the focus for this years’ global Earth Day is ending plastic pollution.
Did you know that, by weight, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.
A history of plastic
Outside of the army, widespread use of plastic never happened until after WWII, with large-scale production of plastic only dating back to the 1950s. Realistically speaking, that’s not a long period of time. Our family members could probably talk to you about their first memories of plastic packaging – if you decided to engage in a conversation like it.
The rise in the use of plastics has been extraordinary and unlike any other material. It has been estimated that 8.3bn tonnes of virgin plastic has been produced to date, where only 30% of the plastic ever made is currently in use. The remaining 6.3bn tonnes is now waste, with approximately 60% – the largest percentage – in landfill or the natural environment. 12% of the remaining waste has been incinerated, 10% being recycled more than once, with only a meer 9% ever being recycled.
It goes without saying that plastic dominates the way in which we live our lives – all the way from the clothes we wear right down to engineering, and more so in packaging. It should come as no surprise then, that packaging is actually the largest use for plastic, which accelerated when there was a global shift from reusable to single-use products.
So, what’s the problem?
We just touched upon the fact that 60% of plastic currently resides within a landfill or the natural environment, which shocks us. For a man-made material that has been so mass-produced, you would expect there to be a process that can accommodate to its growth, demand and inevitable throw-away culture. Wrong. The plastic that is sent to landfills and left in the water is just going to stay there unless we do something about it.
The good news? There are people, charities and government bodies that are doing things to combat plastic pollution, which is obviously really great.
Here’s a little fact for you to think about…
In order for your coffee cups from cafe’s to be heat and leak proof, the inner lining consists of a mixture of paper and plastic. All great for you not losing your much-needed coffee or scrumptious hot chocolate, sure, but this makes it difficult to recycle. In 2011 it was estimated that 2.5 billion coffee cups were thrown away each year. Did you know, more than 99.75% of your disposable coffee cups don’t get recycled properly as there is only a small number of specialists plants within the UK that are able to dispose of these products in the correct way? It’s true. This is due to a lack of infrastructure that would enable the cups to be transported to the correct plants, over there being a lack of capacity for them to be recycled. There are ways that you yourself can not only reduce how many coffee cups are used, but how much plastic is disposed of incorrectly.
What’s being done to solve it?
There are many charities that are taking it upon themselves to clean up plastic pollution, but one of our favourite charities, the Two Hands Project in Australia, is encouraging the world to come together and use both of their hands for 30 minutes to clean up our world, anywhere, anytime.
After Blue Planet II aired, the show issued a statement that encourages viewers that want to help our oceans take 2 minutes from their time to do a beach clean up or, if they don’t live near the coast, a clean up of plastic on our streets.
As well as Blue Planet, there is a Two Minute Beach Clean campaign that encourages the same thing.
Did you know, no one in the UK lives more than 70 miles away from the coast?
If you ask us, any time you can devote will help. If you can spare just a few seconds and pick up 2 or 3 pieces from the coast or our pavements, those 2 or 3 pieces of plastic could be the difference between an animal or a part of marine life living or dying.
Coming back to the UK, it was recently announced that our government is putting aside £64.1m to combat the increasing levels of plastic that is left in our oceans, which is being discussed when the leaders of the commonwealth come together in London this month. It is reported that Theresa May will call upon the 52 leaders present to join the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance – a strategy that is in place to help developing Commonwealth nations research and improve waste management, which we happen to think is a brilliant thing. On publishing this article, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Ghana have already joined.
Of the £64.1 million budget for this strategy, £25 million will go towards enabling researchers to investigate the issue of marine plastic from a scientific, economic and social perspective; £20 million will be used to curb plastic and other forms of environmental pollution which has been generated by manufacturing in developing countries and prevent it from entering the oceans; and last, but not least, the remaining £16.4 million will go towards improving waste management at both a national and city level to stop plastics entering the water.
How can you make a change?
A lot of people think that making little changes won’t do anything to help, but you’d be wrong. Ask yourself how many coffees you buy from the cafe down the road, the amount of sandwich bags you use to wrap up your lunch and the amount of plastic bottle drinks you buy whilst on the go in a month. Those figures for one person alone is just a start, so we say that by making small changes, you alone can be doing your part to reduce how much plastic is going to waste.
We’ve put together a selection of our favourite re-useable products that you can start using today to do your bit.
Photo credit: Keep Cup
These are cool, colourful and a really good way of reducing how many coffee cups end up in our oceans. They have a range of pre-designed cups, as well as giving you the ability to design your own. They also encourage businesses to invest in branded KeepCups. Nifty, huh?
Photo credit: rCup
Equally deserving of a mention, the new rCup invention from former Dyson designer and inventor, Dan Dicker, also makes for a stylish and Instagram-worthy reusable cup. Made from recycled paper coffee cups, it makes us wonder why we need to be using actual paper coffee cups when we could have something that looks as cool as this.
Who Gives A Crap Tissues
Photo credit: Who Gives A Crap
At the end of the day, we all go to the toilet so you should give a crap about your crap – and the trees that wipe it. As the brand so perfectly put it on their website, toilet paper is more than just wiping bums. All of their products are made without trees, are environmentally friendly and really make you think. Did you know that more people in the world have mobile phones than toilets? If you think that’s shocking, then there’s even more hard-hitting facts over on their website.
Photo credit: Stephen Webster
In response the world’s plastic pollution problem, Stephen Webster has made a stand against this environmental issue with; The Last Straw. They partnered with Plastic Oceans Foundation where 10% from all sales proceeds will be donated, to combat pollution within our oceans. This straw has been beautifully handcrafted in Sterling silver, a perfect material known for its anti-bacterial qualities and the perfect addition to your next social media post.
Tell us in the comments, what are your favourite go-to reusables?