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Pollution Facts
& Positive Change


It is estimated there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic pollution in our oceans
There are over 4 billion microfibers washed from our clothes every km² floating on our oceans
80% of the ocean’s plastic comes from the land, mostly from stormwater
90% of seabirds eat plastic rubbish, thinking it is food
52% of the world’s sea turtles have eaten plastic
Around 13 billion plastic bags are manufactured every year
The world throws away 13 billion plastic bottles a year
The fishing industry dumps approximately 150,000 tons of plastic waste into our oceans – nets, packaging, lines and buoys
Every year 8.3 million tons of plastic pollution is dumped in our oceans
Every year more than 100,000 marine mammals and over 1 million water birds die from either ingesting or entanglement in plastic
Every piece of plastic manufactured across the world is still on our planet today



We survived the stone age, the bronze age and the iron age, but will our planet outlive the plastic age?

In less than 50 years, we have polluted all corners of our planet with over 9 billion tonnes of this indestructible product – and the effects are catastrophic.

Plastic production, especially single-use plastic, is increasing at an alarming rate. This year alone, we will produce 400,000 million tons of plastic across the planet, and by 2040, 800,000 million tons is projected. Much of our plastic garbage will end up as landfill, or worse, polluting our natural waterways, air and environments.

Our Earth cannot sustain this assault, but there is hope. As individuals, communities, businesses, councils and governments, we can change the path because, without demand, there is no supply. Right now, we can switch to eco-friendly alternatives, say NO to single-use plastic and be more aware of our polluting habits.

Single-use plastic bags are serial killers

Refuse plastic bags of any sort and replace with reusable bags such as cloth, calico or hessian, use a backpack, cardboard boxes or even a small trolley.
Worldwide, approximately 2 million plastic bags are used every minute and, on average, used for 12 minutes before being discarded. In stark contrast, plastic bags can remain in the environment for 20-1,000 years, breaking up into microplastics and causing devastation on land and in water. Marine animals ingest bags, which block their digestive tract, and they can die from starvation. Their bodies then decompose and the still intact plastic bags are released back into the oceans, ready to be ingested by other wildlife, and the cycle continues.

Did you know? As well as causing death to wildlife, plastic bags can also block drains during heavy rain events and cause flash flooding.


Swap single-use cups for reusable stainless steel or glass cups.
If getting takeaway coffee is non-negotiable, consider the 25,000+ microplastics that could be leaching into your cup from boiling water. Disposable cups are often lined with plastic, making them non-biodegradable, usually non-recyclable, and they can leach microplastics and heavy metals - iron, chromium and cadmium, into your hot drinks.

Carrying your own cup or flask will help reduce the one billion single-use coffee cups we use each year. Plus, if you decide to get a vacuum flask, you can enjoy your hot drink for longer.

Did you know? Did you know? Half a million single use coffee cups are disposed of daily in the UK (2019) and only 0.25% of them are recycled.


Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea, write to manufacturers and request teabags without plastic.
The earliest tea bags were plastic-free, made of silk or muslin. Nowadays, most use bleached paper and contain plastic fibres that are woven between the paper threads. This gives the bag more strength and durability to withstand 100C degree temperatures.

For a richer taste go for loose leaf and invest in a good infuser or teapot.

Did you know? That steamy cup of tea releases thousands of microplastics. Some tea manufacturers have warnings on their boxes not to put tea bags into compost bins. Why? Because they contain plastic. It’s best to research your teabag provider; they may have already changed to non-plastic teabags.


Replace bottled shampoos and conditioners with bars or refillable eco-bottles.
The UK throws away 520 million shampoo bottles every year. On average, bottles are good for up to 25 washes (12 if washing twice in one wash).

Shampoo bars are available in plastic-free packaging and can last for 80-100 washes. Mainly made from natural ingredients (beautiful oils) bars are space savers and multipurpose - used as soap in the shower, washing pets and clothes while camping or travelling.

Another alternative is to get refillable bottles and buy your shampoo and conditioner from zero-waste stores.

Did you know? Many shampoos contain silicone that block nourishing ingredients from hair follicles, making hair brittle with a dull appearance.


Shop for products in non-plastic packaging - paper, cardboard and glass, or shop at zero-waste stores.
We produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic waste globally every year. Plastic packaging is a dominant source of that waste and pollution. While we may think that much of this is recyclable, the truth is that only a small percentage of this plastic can be recycled. Most end up in landfill or in our oceans, polluting the environment and causing harm to wildlife.

Zero-waste stores are now leading the charge when it comes to selling products with little to no packaging. Supporting these businesses can help influence bigger chains to follow suit.

Did you know? The UK’s plastic packaging recycling rate is over 50% (2020) but the target of the UK Plastic Pact is to reach 70% by 2025. Total pascti packaging place on the UK market in 2019 was 2.3 million tonnes.


Cut back on unnecessary packaging. Buy in bulk and wrap in greaseproof paper, separate out into reusable containers or segmented lunch boxes.
We all love those miniature, individually pack bags of chips, lollies and biscuits – often a favourite in the lunch boxes of both big and little kids. While convenient, the are a double up on packaging – usually in a plastic bag that can’t be recycled and end up in landfill, or worse, as rubbish left on the streets.

Collected by heavy rain, these discarded packets make their way into our stormwater networks and then our water ways, they break down into microplastics and are often mistaken as food by aquatic animals

Convenient? Yes – but at what cost to our environment?

There are over 13 million dogs in the UK, THAT’S A LOT OF PLASTIC POOP BAGS

Swap to reusing soft plastic bags, bags made from natural products or use old newspapers and big leaves to clean up after your beloved canine.
We love our pets in the UK. 34% of households own a dog and 40,000 of those are Labrador Retrievers! That’s a lot of dogs that need to be walked and cleaned up after, using plastic dog-poo bags.

Pets are a significant source of water contamination from bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorus harmful to our waterways. Our dog poop contains bacteria that carry diseases like Salmonella and Giardia that can cause severe infections in humans. So, let’s make sure we pick up after our four-legged darlings.

Did you know? Doggy poop is a major contributor to stormwater pollution.


Swap single-use plastic water bottles with reusable stainless steel or glass water bottles.
It may only take 10 minutes to finish drinking from a plastic bottle, but the ocean takes up to 450 years to break them up into microplastics. We can quickly help turn around those statistics. We’re big fans of bottles made of food-grade stainless steel - the material is non-reactive and doesn't leach harmful chemicals and microplastics. Be aware some aluminium bottles are lined with plastic to stop a metallic taste. Stainless steel bottles are highly durable and dishwasher safe. Glass bottles are also very safe, but not as durable as stainless steel.

Did you know? Across the planet single-use plastic bottles are one of the biggest polluters in stormwater networks.


Switch to beeswax wraps, cotton or canvas covers, wax paper, glass containers or reuse glass jars or simply a plate!
Developed in the 1950s, plastic food wrap was hailed as the saviour to enable longer food storage. The hidden chemicals in these difficult-to-recycle plastics are bad for the planet and human health. Chemicals leach into landfill, waterways and into our food by heat.

The move towards bioplastics also comes with inherent dangers. The plant-based materials – cane-sugar, corn or potatoes, can contain toxic chemicals. Although compostable, they usually need an industrial compost facility with temperatures of 65 degrees C (165 degrees F).

Did you know? In water, bacteria, pathogens and heavy metals can latch onto flimsy pieces of plastic, making them even more lethal to aquatic lifeforms.


Make your own insecticides and repellents from organic ingredients in your kitchen.
Home-made eco-friendly pesticides from the kitchen are really cost effective. We can also use food items like oranges and bananas to deter pests. Oranges help reduce snail problems, replacing snail baits. Just before dusk, leave half a cut orange near a problem area and check on the orange in a couple of hours. The slugs and snails feasting on the orange can easily be disposed of, or moved to another part of the garden as bird food. It’s a much cheaper and safer alternative than snail baits that poison pets, wildlife and birds.

Did you know? You are no longer allowed to use blue slug pellets (that contain metaldehyde) in your garden. The poison that kills the slugs is then eaten by birds and hedgehogs and it can kill them too, so their use has now been banned in gardens.


Stop littering cigarette butts and filters. Carry a reusable ashtray, look for special butt bins.
One major source of plastic pollution has been largely overlooked - the cigarette butt. When a butt is flicked, you are introducing harmful chemicals to the environment.

Littered butts and filters release toxins like arsenic and heavy metals. They also contain nicotine and carcinogens from tobacco - chemicals poisonous to wildlife. Research shows that marine life and aquatic birds can be severely sensitive to the toxins leached by both smoked and unsmoked cigarette butts.

Did you know? Cigarette butts and other smoking-related litter were the most commonly found type of litter in the UK. They were found at 79% of sites surveyed in 2018.


Swap plastic containers with glass containers and jars.
Old plastic containers can leach dangerous chemicals into food, and deep scratches can harbour bacteria. (Plastic containers are old when they warp, crack, split, peel or if you just know they are old).

Glass containers and reusing glass jars are great alternatives to using plastic containers for those leftover foods. They are easier to clean than plastic, are non-porous, lowering the risk of cross-contamination from the residue of previous contents, and they don’t stain! They are dishwasher and microwave safe.

Did you know? Preparing fruit and veges and storing them in glass jars and containers will keep longer than in plastic containers, especially scrumptious berries.


Install a water tank and talk to your local council and government representatives about water harvesting and SMART technology.
Rainwater becomes stormwater when it hits hard surfaces, causing flash flooding in stormwater networks.

We can harvest rainwater by capturing large amounts of rain to be stored for later use - used for gardens, vehicles, pets and outdoor areas, toilets, washing machines, agriculture, drinking water for livestock and treated for reuse as potable water.Harvesting rainwater will be critical in years to come when predicted droughts are more severe.

Did you know? Rainwater harvesting has nearly eradicated flash-flooding in German cities. SMART water tanks used in the UK alert tank owners of a severe rain event. Before the storm, the tanks release water to allow more space for the rain.


We can wash our clothes less often and wear them for longer. We can change to wearing more second-hand garments and wearing fewer synthetics
The next time you throw a load of clothes in the wash, take a moment to consider the hundreds of thousands of tiny microfibres you’ll be dislodging from the fabric and washing down the drain with the grey water.

What’s the problem with that? These microscopic specs are so small they pass right through the current water treatment processes and into our drinking water, rivers, lakes and oceans. So not only are the marine animals digesting these fibres – so are we!

Did you know? Although recycling plastic into clothing sounds like a great initiative, it’s actually bad for the environment. Minute plastic fibres washed from our synthetic clothes are poisoning the food chain.


Refuse plastic straws and swap to steel, bamboo or paper straws, or go straw-less!
Plastic straws are among the top 10 contributors to marine plastic debris and can take up to 200 years to break up into microplastics. Marine animals ingest them, and we humans can feel a range of effects from them. Made from polypropylene, straws can leach chemicals into our drinks when exposed to UV light, acidic drinks or heat, cause gas from air in the gut and can even cause cavities by eroding enamel as liquid stream is concentrated on a small area of teeth.

Did you know? Straws are light in weight, so they easily blow around outdoors or from garbage bins. Once they are on the ground, they begin their journey to our waterways, usually via the nearest stormwater drain.


Choose bamboo and steel cutlery over single-use plastic.
Even in the best conditions, single-use plastic cutlery can take up to 200 years to break up into microplastics! Do the sums, we only use the cutlery once for around 20-30 minutes before being thrown out to landfill or ending up in our waterways. Recycling is not easy and estimates from the US alone are at 40 billion individual cutlery pieces end up as waste every year.

Aquatic animals, especially turtles and seabirds can get internal injuries from the sharp plastic edges from eating plastic cutlery.

If you want to be a part of the solution, refuse plastic cutlery.

Did you know? With no sunlight to photodegrade, plastic cutlery buried in landfill may last forever.

Plastic pollution from vehicle tyres – 1,000 time worse than car emissions

Reduce tyre wear pollution, by driving more carefully and avoid erratic braking or wheelies, or if you’re fortunate to have public transport – use it.
Vehicle tyres are made from approximately 19% natural rubber and 24% plastic polymers. When we drive, tiny pieces of plastic or polymers break off. Approximately 95% of these particles end up in stormwater networks; the rest disperse through the air.

Tyre microplastics are denser than water and sink to the bottom where they are ingested by sediment-dwelling animals, including shellfish, entering the food chain and human ingestion. The toxic plastic can also kill the animals that ingest them.

Did you know? Worldwide, over 200,000 tonnes of tyre wear microplastics are carried from our roads via stormwater networks and into our oceans annually, where they sink to the ocean floor.


Keep street gutters clean, don’t litter and talk to our local council and government representatives about correctly managed stormwater.
Plastic and urban pollution starts upstream from street drains - litter, sediment, organic matter, tyre wear pollution, vehicle emissions, and harmful chemicals are carried by stormwater networks to our local waterways and eventually out to sea. Stormwater is the main conveyer of pollution - 80% of ocean plastic is land-based, mainly from stormwater.

Sadly, here in the UK, a lack of available funding limits the ability of councils and the Government to work in this space.

Did you know? A stormwater utility charge will fund councils to correctly manage stormwater.


Wash vehicles on the grass or even better at a carwash.
Washing vehicles on the grass can help reduce the amount of runoff that typically flows from our driveway and into the nearest stormwater drain, also keeping water contaminated with commercial cleaners out of our waterways.

Dirty water from washing a vehicle contains residue from exhaust fumes, heavy metals, petrol, and oils. These contaminants can flow directly to stormwater drains and into the nearest creek or river, harming water quality and wildlife. Phosphates from the cleaning product can also cause excessive algae blooms in waterways.

Did you know? Countries like Germany have mostly banned washing vehicles at home.


Reduce consumption of single-use plastic by choosing from the loose fruit and vegetable section. Use a reusable mesh bag instead of a plastic bag.
Gone are the days when fruit and veg was delivered in a box to your door, with not a single piece of plastic in sight. And was it only a year ago when fresh produce was sold loose in our local supermarkets? Where customers could opt not to buy produce wrapped in plastic?

Today catering to hygiene, convenience and presentation, it’s hard to buy any fresh produce without some kind of wrapping. It is unnecessary and costly, and this indestructible material ends up in landfill and our waterways, making its home on our planet for an eternity.

Did you know? Fruit and vegetables come in their own beautiful, natural packaging and most don’t need to be wrapped in plastic.
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