Resolution One: Make small but MIGHTY changes
Unless you’ve been living in a plastic bubble over the past few years, you will know the serious impact that plastic and waste has on our planet.
We’ve seen the documentary footage of sea birds regurgitating plastic to feed their chicks and beached whales with stomachs full of plastic waste.
Over one million birds are killed by ocean plastic each year, and over 700 species of marine animal are in danger of becoming extinct.
Over Christmas, in the UK we use over 125,000 tonnes of plastic wrapping for food which is discarded over the festive period, 227,000 miles of wrapping paper and around 40 million rolls of sticky tape.
An extra 30% of rubbish, somewhere in the region of 3 million tonnes, is produced and discarded over Christmas when compared with the rest of the year. Part of this will be the 54 million platefuls of food waste. Taking into account wine and other bottled drinks, 13,350 tonnes of glass is binned every year during December and January, and an estimated 10 million turkeys are killed for our Christmas dinners, 90% of them are kept in indoor farms.
As we have become more aware of the environmental impact our Christmas celebrations have, it is likely that many of us will have made small and considerate changes to the way we celebrated Christmas in 2019; whether using brown paper instead of wrapping paper, string instead of sticky tape, avoiding novelty presents that will be used once and then binned, doing without the crackers during Christmas dinner or not sending Christmas cards to people we can email, text or Facebook message.
In towns and villages across Teesside, when it comes to the environment, people are realising that small changes do make a difference, especially when a large group of people choose to make small changes, consistently over a long period of time.
Locally, it encourages community litter picks and beach cleans; Community Champions, Middlesbrough, Norton, Clean Up Your Act, Thornaby Community Litter Project, Plastic Free Hartlepool, Surfers Against Sewage, Keeping It Clean, Saltburn, Friends of Eston Hills, Friends of Redcar, Skinningrove and Cattersty Sands Beach Clean-to name just a few!
It encourages independent businesses to start-up and offer eco-friendly alternatives, such as The Only Weigh Out; a plastic free shop in Stokesley which requires people to bring their own plastic containers to buy food, cosmetics and cleaning products.
Period of Change, Saltburn was set up to tackle period poverty in Teesside and offer alternatives to sanitary products that contain plastic. They offer sustainable menstrual care, health education to women and girls in Teesside, and teach them how to make their own reusable cloth pads. Handmade ‘Waste Free Period’ kits are sold and given out for free in food and clothing banks.
By changing our consumer habits, it puts pressure on manufacturers, corporations and businesses to look for environmentally-friendly and ethical alternatives, because people buy them.
When faced with a choice between a product that has been tested on puppies or one that had not been tested on animals, I would like to believe people would choose the latter. Surely, the vast majority of the population would prefer to buy an item of clothing made ethically by people who were paid a living wage rather than by candlelight in the sweat shops of South America or China?