Almost 1,500 staff from across the UK and Ireland at Optical Express, the UK’s only complete eye care provider, have been encouraged to sign up to the United Nations Clean Seas Campaign. Launched in 2017 by the UN Environment Programme, the Clean Seas Campaign aims to create a global movement to tackle single-use plastics. It shines a light on specific causes of marine litter, such as plastic pollution generated by the cosmetic and personal care industry.
The campaign exposes how personal care products, washed into the world’s waterways via our bathrooms, are a major source of the estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic litter which end up in the oceans every year. It highlights wet wipes, cotton buds and contact lenses as common causes of plastic pollution, encouraging people to find sustainable, ocean-friendly alternatives.
The United Nations Environment Programme Clean Seas Campaign notes:
“Many people are not aware of just how much plastic is hidden in their beauty and personal care routine. Take a look at your bathroom. When contact lenses are thrown in the toilet or sink, they enter waste-water treatment plants, where they can easily enter the oceans and be ingested by marine life.”
Microplastics are defined as small plastic pieces which are less than 5mm in length and there’s an estimated 51 trillion microplastic particles already in our oceans.
Optical Express staff have been signing up to the Clean Seas Campaign amid growing concern about the environmental impact of contact lenses, after research commissioned by the company showed that over 750 million plastic lenses end up in the oceans or landfill in the UK every year. Academic experts and environmental campaign groups have also spoken out about the harm plastics cause to the natural environment, urging people to dispose of contact lenses and their packaging responsibly.
This action by Optical Express staff, forms part of a wider environmental drive at the company, which is aiming to increase public awareness of environmental issues as well as improving its own green credentials. Specialist contact lens recycling stations have been made available in all Optical Express clinics, and the company’s expert surgeons have pledged to fully inform patients about the potential environmental impact of their eye care choices.
Heather Suttie, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Optical Express, said:
“I’m incredibly proud of all the Optical Express staff members who are joining the fight against single-use plastic by cutting out unnecessary plastic products. Many of the single-use plastic products which are so damaging to our environment can be found in our bathrooms, so it’s vital that initiatives like the UN Environment Programme are focusing on this form of plastic pollution. The damage caused by personal care products such as contact lenses has been underestimated in the past, but as our research has shown, it’s a significant source of plastic waste which we all need to do more to cut down on.”Corporate Responsibility