As Christmas draws closer, we want to encourage our members and supporters to make a difference to the marine environment and go plastic free!
UK households can produce up to 30% more waste than usual during the festive season. Plastic pollution in the ocean kills over one million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals every year, and more than 700 species of marine animal, including some of the world’s most endangered species, have been reported to ingest, or become entangled in, plastic. Even glitter (which is everywhere at Christmas) is a microplastic and can have a huge impact on the marine environment. Scientists have found microplastics in hundreds of marine species, many of which actually end up on our dinner plates. This year some supermarkets are cracking down on plastic glitter for their 2019 Christmas range to stop it entering our oceans and in August Tesco announced they would be switching to a plastic free alternatives for their range or trees, plants and flower.
By making just a few small changes this festive season, you can have a wider impact on the marine environment, so here are a few ideas and changes you can make to do your bit and protect our oceans:
Plastic free wrapping
Most wrapping paper is in fact not recyclable (especially those covered in glitter), so how can you make your presents waste free? Give your presents a sentimental look and use something fully recyclable and/or reusable instead, like brown paper or decorative fabric to wrap your presents in. Avoid using sellotape to secure your gifts and use paper twine to tie them up. Finally, give your presents a final personal touch by using recycled scrap paper to make your own tags!
Alternative Christmas cards
Many people are now steering away from sending Christmas cards and are even donating the money they would have spent on purchasing and sending them to charities. So how can you make sending
Christmas cards better for the environment? Reduce microplastics and send cards that aren’t covered in glitter or, instead of posting cards, find a fun and quirky e-card to send to your friends and family
Who wants their Christmas decorations looking the same as everyone else’s? Why not make your own unique plastic free decorations? Seasonal sprigs, including holly and mistletoe make attractive rustic additions to your decor. You can make your own decorations from scrap fabric, old packaging and even bits of wood and pinecones! Get the kids involved in making paper snowflakes and paper chains which they can decorate themselves (but remember not to cover them in that pesky glitter!).
And finally, why not make your own salt dough decorations to hang on the tree or even make ornaments from dried chillies, oranges and cinnamon sticks.
Pulling a cracker before Christmas dinner has been a Christmas tradition since 1847 but it’s another source of festive waste.
In an attempt to cut down single use plastics, this year Waitrose and John Lewis announced they are no longer selling crackers with plastic toys and by 2020 the new re designed crackers will be decorated with embossing rather than glitter, and include toys made by recyclable materials such as metal and paper.
Other brands of eco crackers are also starting to pop up online and in the shops but why not go one step further and make your own! You can make them out of festive fabric and pick you own personalised gifts such as chocolates and eco-friendly toiletries such as shampoo bars - then simply re attach them for the next year!
If you’ve still got some Christmas shopping to do, why not treat your loved ones to something special and rather than material things give them a gift experience. For whale and dolphin lovers you could book them a place on one of our Sea Safaris for summer 2020 or on an ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyor course where they could learn how they can help with the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
You could also give gifts to help people reduce their single – use plastic like reusable water bottles and coffee cups.
The Christmas Dinner table
The Christmas food shop is always a bit of a panic but make sure you don’t forget your reusable bags! When you’re buying your Christmas treats try to avoid food products with lots of unnecessary packaging and take you own air-tight containers for fresh produce.
Shop local to reduce your carbon footprint and support local businesses. Ensure you are buying less packaging by heading to your local farmer’s markets and green grocers to get your fruit and veg and even visit the local bakers for your bread, cake and mince pies – or even make your own!
And remember when you are enjoying a Christmas cocktail to avoid using a plastic straw or plastic drinks stirrers.
Support our work and donate to ORCA so we can continue to identify important whale and dolphin habitats and protect these amazing animals for the future.
From all the ORCA Team we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.