In the UK alone, over 2.2 million tonnes of plastic food packaging is placed on the market each year. A recent report by the HoP revealed that in 2017, only 46.2% of our plastic packaging was collected for recycling and 12.2% of this was exported to countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia for recycling, as China banned imports of plastic waste in 2018. “The poorer waste infra-structure in these countries means that only around 10% of all plastic waste is recycled, with the rest being landfilled, burned or entering the environment.” See the full report here.
So in the spirit of Plastic-Free July we've compiled some of our tips, tricks and plastic-free food swaps to help you live a little more sustainably, everyday.
Between 500,000 and 1 million tons of fishing gear enter the ocean every year, and according to the WWF the number of species affected by either entanglement or ingestion of plastic fishing paraphernalia has doubled in the last two decades. Their recent report discovered that up to 557 species of marine life has been affected by either entanglement or ingestion of plastic waste - that's 66% of marine mammals, 50% of seabirds and all seven species of marine turtles.
We recommend shopping at local independent fisheries or selecting pole or line-caught only - these methods catch fish one-by-one and avoid large bycatch or shoal depletion issues commonly caused by trawlers. Look out for sustainable fishing certification such as the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) or ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council), too.
Mass-produced meat is wheeled before consumers on a conveyor-belt of convenience, amidst increasing concerns of welfare and hygiene standards associated with animals being shipped in from abroad.
But it's not just animals that are being destroyed for food. Huge areas of land around the world are being cultivated to grow protein-rich crops, such as soy and maize, that are used to feed livestock.
Agriculture currently consumes 38% of the global land surface, with 1/3 used for crops and 2/3 grazing livestock, and the livestock sector generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as every automobile combined.
From the Amazon rainforest to the foothills of the Himalayas, the planet's natural resources are being placed under increasing pressure due to overuse of land for the production of animal feed.
According to WWF, crop cultivation to feed cattle is responsible for 60% of the world's biodiversity being lost. The UK's livestock industry, alone, has been directly linked to the extinction of an estimated 33 species.
The UK average daily intake of protein via meat is 88g for men and 64g for women - the equivalent of a quarter pounder beef burger or three rashers of bacon. This level of intake is simply unsustainable for the planet, and our health.
Reducing the amount of meat we eat significantly lowers our carbon footprint and promotes a healthy, more balanced ecosystem. It would also, in turn, lead to less land being used to farm cattle feed.
For example, in the UK, if we reduced our daily meat consumption to 50g a day it's estimated that the agricultural land required for cattle feed would drop by 13% - that's equal to 6.5 million sq kilometres!
Try to find a local organic farm shop and ask questions to find out how far the meat has travelled to get from farm to fork. Free range and organic meat will be more expensive but it'll be healthier, taste better and won't have had such a negative impact on global biodiversity. Or take a look at the Ethical Butcher or Piper's Farm - online companies committed to farming more sustainably, working in harmony with the natural world around us and delivering produce in fully recyclable packaging.
FRUIT & VEG
A recent article by The BBC revealed that Britain buys 84% of it’s fruit and 45% of it’s vegetables from overseas. This imported food travels over 30 billion km each year by train, air, road or sea and releases roughly 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Always check the origin of your groceries and shop for seasonal UK grown where possible, check out our range of mesh grocery bags for farmers markets and loose fruit and veg. Growing your own is another fantastic way to reduce your plastic waste and carbon footprint too!