Adapted from an article originally written for yacht-rent.com
The Ocean is full of plastic. Plastic has been in production for 100 years and millions of tons of it has found its way into the sea. It is difficult to think of a product that doesn’t contain or isn’t packaged in it. Among its many applications, plastics ensure that transportation is more carbon efficient, avoids food waste by keeping it fresh and allows us to see through contact lenses. The unintended side effect of one of the most useful inventions of our times is putting a strain on our oceans and sea life. Efforts should go beyond the idea of re-cycling and we should re-examine the idea of plastic, one of the most resilient products ever invented, as a throwaway commodity.
Although going completely plastic free is difficult, every little helps and it starts with reducing use of single-use plastic. Here are some useful tips.
1.The Last Straw
Straws are small pieces of plastic that are largely unnecessary. Many sea creatures, especially seabirds ingest them and this can be fatal. Cold coffee, soft drinks and cocktails in Greece are always served with straws. Ditching straws is an easy way to make a quite a big difference. As you order, make sure to tell your waiter that you don’t want a straw or any other plastic. If you can’t bear the thought of sipping a cocktail at sundown without one, consider stocking up on re-usable, biodegradable bamboo straws or glass straws.
2. Bring your Own
No more single-use bottles or disposable coffee cups. Millions of bottles of water are bought around the world by the minute and few of them are recycled. Invest in a reusable bottle and fill it up instead. Just think how many plastic bottles you will keep out of circulation if you all make an effort to refill. Similarly, investing in your own re-usable coffee cup means no more disposable plastic cups in the garbage. Beach parties are some of the most important places to bring your own cup, to avoid littering the beautiful beaches of the countries you are visiting.
3. Re-usable Shopping Bags
When packing for a sailing holiday, make sure to take some reusable shopping bags with you, to avoid plastic bags when provisioning. Some countries, like Greece, have been slow to adopt the EU policy of reducing single use plastic bags. Since 2018 Greece has started charging a small fee for plastic bags; so it’s even more crucial to take responsibility as a consumer. Check out canvas shopping bags at cafepress with Greek themes.
For something a little more flash, and sticking with a nautical theme, why not buy bags made out of recycled sails? Check out saltybag.com – the first up-cycling company in Greece.
4. Plastic-free Personal Care Products
Many commercially produced personal care products are laden with Nano-plastic particles that go straight into the water when you swim in the seat. From toothpastes and deodorants to shower gels, eye shadow and sunscreen, numerous beauty products contain tiny plastic particles. Try to buy plastic free personal care products and sunscreen; or simply use less and cover up to reduce sun exposure.
5. Light a Match
Plastic disposable lighters are a scourge of the sea and, particularly, bird life. Seagulls are known to mistake them for fish and many a bird has died with a belly full of plastic lighters. Stock up on matches instead. The galley stove, candles, beach fires and everything else, can be lit just as well with a match. Completely biodegradable, they’re an easy solution that doesn’t require much effort.
6. Pick up the Plastic
While holidaying in places like Greece you will, no doubt, stop off at a quiet cove or two. If you see any plastic in the water or on the beach, pick it up and take it with you. Take the PickUpTen Challenge and put pressure on local business to change their ways.
With these six easy ways, you can do your bit to reduce your plastic consumption while on holiday and at home. It’s not just a drop in the ocean; we can turn the tide on plastic in our lifetimes if we all lend a hand.
Besides these easy practices, if you would like to help out further, then check out these global activists at 4Ocean. You can support them by buying a bracelet that pays for a clean-up, get involved as a volunteer, or get support from them in organising your own clean-up.
Featured 📷 by @thejmoore