How long can you go without using a single-use plastic?

Environmental campaigners are asking you to find out. Activists are inviting us each to set a timer on our phones and see how long we can go until we’re forced to throw some plastic away. Everyday single-use items include clingfilm, plastic fruit containers, coffee cups, sandwich wrappers and freezer bags. Friends of the Earth are asking people to time themselves on their phone.

The time and the piece of plastic that ended the challenge can then be submitted to Friends of the Earth. As well as the #drasticonplastic challenge, the organisation is also calling for people to back its campaign for tougher government action on single-use plastic and plastic pollution. Volunteers banned from using litter picking sticks ‘because of health and safety’ FOE plastic-free campaigner Julian Kirby said: ‘Take the plastic challenge and find out how long you can go before you have to use an item of throwaway plastic. ‘By letting us know which bit of unwanted plastic ended your challenge, it will help us put pressure on retailers and manufacturers to reduce the waves of pointless plastic pollution that blights our environment and harms our wildlife. ‘It’s time for the government to get drastic on plastic – and that’s why we need a new law to ensure tougher action to end the plastic pollution crisis.’

The campaign comes just as a cross-party group of MPs called for a complete ban on the export of the UK’s plastic waste to developing countries. Proposed by Liberal Democrat Tom Brake, the motion has been signed by more than 30 MPs including the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Geraint Davies. It places emphasis on the two-thirds of plastic waste separated for recycling in the UK that is sent abroad for processing. The National Audit Office has warned that materials sent abroad for recycling may be dumped in landfill. Clingfilm, bottles and plastic bags are all single-use.

Environmental charity A Plastic Planet is also backing the motion to end exports of plastic waste to developing countries. Sian Sutherland, A Plastic Planet co-founder, said: ‘Our waste is invisible to us. We used to think popping it in the right bin is where our responsibility ends. ‘The UK should deal with its own dirt – not ship it abroad to others. ‘The answer is clear – we must urgently turn off the plastic tap.’

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