Every year, Collins Dictionary reveals its word of the year – and 2018’s is perhaps the most telling of all.
‘Single-use’ has been announced as this year’s buzzword, referring to items such as plastic, that are used once and then thrown away. Collins divulged further information about the decision on their website, in which they wrote:
‘Single-use refers to products – often plastic – that are ‘made to be used once only’ before disposal. Images of plastic adrift in the most distant oceans, such as straws, bottles, and bags have led to a global campaign to reduce their use.’
They continued: ‘The word has seen a four-fold increase since 2013, with news stories and images such as those seen in the BBC’s Blue Planet II steeply raising public awareness of the issue.’
As the website suggests, one of the overwhelming reasons for the increase in awareness of single-use plastic has been David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which aired late last year. Images of floating plastic bags and other single-use items shocked viewers, along with Attenborough’s revelation that an incredible eight million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year.
Other documentaries such as the BBC’s Drowning In Plastic, presented by wildlife biologist Liz Bonnin, lifted the lid on our environment’s dire plastic problem and focused on the effect it’s having on our eco-system. The poignant 90-minute programme began with footage of the inside of bird’s stomachs, which were filled with tiny bits of plastic. Bonnin then visited different areas of the world to reveal how we are dealing with our plastic problem – and the kind of solutions we could look to in the future.
The UK government recently announced plans to ban plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds between October 2019 and October 2020. This initiative follows the ban on micro-beads and the introduction of a 5p charge for plastic bags in supermarkets and other shops.