The ultimate guide on how to quit plastic
Stylist questions whether single-use plastic will soon become as unacceptable as smoking indoors and investigates how we can cut down
I was a waitress at a local cafe as a teenager. Every four weeks we took turns serving the smoking section and I wheezed my way through every shift (I have asthma), dodging fugs of smoke, picking up plates with cigarette butts pushed into egg yolks and watching as children shared teacakes and nicotine with their parents. Nights out often ended with rogue cigarette burns on your arm, and trains, aeroplanes and offices were all smoke-friendly. It’s only 11 years since the smoking ban came into effect, but those scenes already seem archaic. The ban prompted an almost two million drop in the number of smokers in the UK, and today only 15% of women smoke. It’s one of the sharpest social U-turns in history. And we’re about to experience an even bigger one.
Plastic has become our newest source of shame. Last week I was tutted at when I said yes, I did indeed need a bag for my avocados in the supermarket. My cheeks burned. It’s just over two years since charges for plastic bags were introduced (cutting our usage by 85%) and forgetting my cotton bag felt as socially unacceptable as asking for a lighter in a doctor’s surgery. We think of the scene of albatross parents unwittingly feeding plastic to their chicks in BluePlanet II. Justin Hofman’s award-winning photograph of a seahorse clinging to a bright pink cotton bud is in our minds. And it seems nearly every day brings a new addition to the horrifying roll call of plastic facts: by 2050 there will be as much plastic in the ocean as fish; a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute; a sperm whale found dead near Spain was found to have been killed by gastric shock after ingesting 29kg of plastic waste; microplastic from Scotland has been detected in Antarctica. Plastic, or specifically single-use plastic,is really starting to trouble us.
Daily routines are being reconsidered now we know
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