Food For Thought - Plastic Ocean
Isn’t it ironic that we wrap our vegetables in plastic to elongate its life yet that material is ultimately going to destroy our natural produce.
If you are having fish for dinner this evening, it probably didn't occur to you that you may also be ingesting toxins from plastic. The sheer volume of plastic in our ocean right now is truly infiltrating every aspect of our lives, from the water we drink which is also used to ‘nourish’ our soil, to the food put on our table… even teabags are around 20% plastic.
In 2016, over 320 million tons of plastic was produced, this figure is set to double by 2034 yet globally only 14% of plastic is recycle. Of that, 12 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the ocean each year, including water bottles coffee cups and lids, food packages. According to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean by weight than fish.
So how is this infiltrating our food?
Studies have found that fish in the North Pacific ingest as much as 24,000 tons of plastic debris a year. Water-born chemicals from industry and agriculture stick to micro-plastics making them toxic poison pills. These micro-plastics are digested by plankton, small fish feed on zooplankton, squid feed on small fish and so it goes on up the food chain. These toxins migrate to the muscle and flesh which eventually ends up on our plate. Most significantly, the toxins have endocrine changing properties which could ultimate change the cells in our body.
Sian Sunderland founder of A Plastic Planet quoted “Fish change sex in the sea because of the pollution, living on beds of rubbish. That could happen to humans. I am not scaremongering”
Making waves – environmentally conscious Skye Gyngell has set herself on a mission to make Spring the first restaurant in the world to become plastic free by 2019.
Her aim? To find alternatives for single use plastics with the help of anti-plastic activists Sian Sutherland and Frederikke Magnussen. Following that, Chef Luke Holder's campaign #ChefsAgainstPlastic continues to stir discussion on social media. He was recently quoted saying: “Chefs are driven by quality and freshness…when something comes wrapped in plastic, I question how old it is.” There is an obscene amount of plastic used in restaurants today, so the aim is to encourage food suppliers to find new packaging methods. Plastic is not something we can eradicate completely but we can all make littles changes to add to the big picture.
Eco Strawz are a UK-based manufacturer of reusable straws. Made from sustainable materials including stainless steel, natural bamboo and natural wheat, they are helping individuals and businesses to reduce their use of harmful plastic straws.
The UK now even has its first zero-waste shop called Earth.Food.Love. Set up by ex Manchester United footballer, Richard Eckersley and his wife, customers can stock up on food and non-food items using their own containers. The Bulk Market in East London is on a mission to create a permanent zero waster supermarket and you can support their fundraising project here.
I hope this has stirred a food for thought in you. The more I discover about the devastating effects of plastic the more I notice just how much I use it, from the pen in my hand to the clothes on my back.
What can you do?