This guest blog is brought to you by our returning work experience intern, Poppy Costello-Roberts!
Global warming has been like an ominous dark cloud looming over us for the last 50 years. For a long time, no one has understood the negative outcome a climate crisis could have on Earth and only in May was a Climate Emergency announced. There are plenty of horror stories drifting around on the web; most of them are enough to make anyone run for the hills (or rather, the wastelands).
However, it is easy for us to fog our vision with these frankly terrifying outcomes and instead of tackling the problem; shy away from it. So, for all your positive thinking, optimists out there: this blog is all about the good things that have happened since we’ve started to tackle global warming.
Banning what hurts the planet
It was announced earlier this year, that by April 2020, plastic straws, coffee stirrers and plastic cotton buds are to be banned in the UK. In the UK, 4.7 billion plastic straws are used each year. Furthermore, there are an estimated 7.5 million plastic straws washed up on America’s shorelines alone, with scientists believing that there could be 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws on coastlines across the entire world! Rather than degrading, plastic straws turn into micro plastics and enter the food chain. 71% of sea birds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs. It’s a similar story for coffee stirrers and cotton buds. Although this ban will not be enough on its own, it is an incredible first step for our government to make.
Increasing renewable energy
20% of the UK’s energy is renewable and this is set to become 30% by 2020. Although this is not a particularly shocking statistic, it is an important one. Renewable energy awareness has increased significantly. More energy companies are switching to environmentally friendly alternatives. Households and businesses are also investing in installing solar panels, or reducing energy consumption where possible.
Greenhouse gases? No thank you
The UK hopes to produce net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is a colossal step towards saving the environment. In 2018, emissions of carbon dioxide were provisionally estimated to be 364.1 million tonnes (Mt) which accounted for 81% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing the number of greenhouse gasses we release we could prevent premature deaths; temperatures could stabilise after roughly 40 years due to the delay in temperature increases and the planet would be overall better for it.
Supermarkets are adapting to a more waste-free approach. Experts estimate that supermarkets produce roughly 800,000 tonnes of plastic in the UK every year. For a very long time supermarkets showed no sign of slowing down until 2018. Here’s a list of UK supermarkets and how they aim to reduce waste and plastic:
- Tesco wants all packaging to be recyclable or compostable by 2025. Has already removed all polystyrene from fish products.
- Sainsbury’s has set a target to half packaging by 2020. Have achieved a 33% reduction in its own brand-packaging since 2006.
- “Asda has reduced the weight of its packaging by 27% since 2007, partly by introducing “skin” packaging on some of its meat products.”
- Morrisons uses “returnable bins” for fish products to reduce the use of polystyrene boxes and keeps 95% of its store waste out of a direct landfill.
- “Iceland announced plans in January 2018 to eliminate or drastically reduce plastic packaging of all its own-label products by the end of 2023.” Previously supported the idea of a deposit return scheme for bottles.
- Aldi has not sent any waste directly to landfill since 2014 and recycles 100% of its cardboard and plastic.
The list goes on… Most (if not all) supermarkets have recently started to drastically improve their ways in terms of waste. Various supermarkets have pledged to create plastic-free aisles; release paper bags and stock slightly damaged fruit and veg to reduce waste. Plastic-free shops have appeared all across the UK and many stock organic, locally sourced or fair-trade foods. Roughly 50% of all products contain palm oil but now palm oil free products are being developed and sold in most supermarkets.
So is the problem solved?
Global warming is still an overshadowing burden that we must tackle sooner rather than later. We must stop ignoring the task at hand and take action now. Despite this, the truth is that it’s not all bad. If it wasn’t for the youth strikes, charities, protests, organisations (such as Extinction Rebellion or Greenpeace) action would not have been taken. These efforts have not gone unnoticed and there are many positives. We must congratulate ourselves as a nation for all of the incredible steps we have taken towards a healthy, happier, greener Earth.
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