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Plastic Free July

There seems to be a month or day for everything these days, but Plastic Free July could be one of the most important ones there is.  Plastic is everywhere, and it can seem that there is little we can do to make a difference.  However by taking a step back and thinking about what we can do shifts the focus to a positive rather than a negative.

Let’s embrace that fighting spirit and commit to making some change today!

AROUND THE HOME OR OFFICE:

Our homes and workplaces are often full of plastic.  There’s bottles of soap, fabric conditioner and orange squash.  Punnets of grapes, onions in those utterly pointless nets and bananas in bags.  Bin liners, ink cartridges, pens and plastic wallets.

Trying to find ways to reduce plastic can be daunting when it is everywhere we look.  I hope to take some of that overwhelm away with these simple switches:

REFILL

There is more than one way to refill.  If you have a local shop use it if at all possible – take your empties and they will fill them.  You won’t be limited to quantity so, for example, you can get 2 litres of washing up liquid in an old lemonade bottle and decant it into any smaller bottle you already have.  

If there is not a shop then you can order for delivery.  Companies such as the fantastic Fill or Spruce will deliver UK wide and you can get larger quantities for office spaces.

Refilling doesn’t only apply to liquids: look for pasta, herbs, dried fruit and so on at refill shop.  Either take your containers or produce bags and decant when you get home.

REFUSE

Making a commitment to not buying something makes you think creatively – do you really need to buy clingfilm?  Or would something else do the job? Sandwiches can be tied up in bread bags or better still use a reusable lunchbox that can be used for years. Peace With The Wild stock a lovely range including some made from risk husks that contain natural silica.  Mind. Blown.

Take your own containers with you if you buy meat from a butcher or butcher counter at a supermarket.  They will all take your tub and put the meat in for you.  It will likely still include the sheet of plastic they often pick items up with, but eliminates the need for bags.

It can be hard to buy fruit and vegetables not in plastic but perhaps this is the time to commit to using your local greengrocer or market.  Often the produce is fresher, you can properly see and feel what you are buying and know that you are investing in your community.  

If you do not have a market or greengrocer nearby have a chat with your local shopkeeper – perhaps they can strike up a relationship with a supplier close by and, for example, get fruit and vegetable boxes directly from the market each week.  This is what my small local shop does and it is so convenient and not much trouble for anyone involved yet great for the local economy and reducing plastic.

 

Refillable Soap

REUSE

An extension of refusing, reusing is perhaps the most important of all.

Yes, replacing clingfilm with a metal lunch box is good, and recycling is better than sending items to landfill, but what is even better is to reuse what you have.  Afterall, everything requires precious resources – water, energy, fuel – and therefore has an environmental impact.  The best thing, for people and the planet, is to give everything we have as long a life as possible before it is either recycled or sent to landfill.

Have a rootle around your cupboards and see what is lurking there! Those takeaway boxes that pile up make great lunchboxes, they keep sandwiches fresh and prevent squashed salad. 

Any containers, boxes or bags can be used to keep items organised – skincare products, jewellery, the kid’s precious stones.  None of those need pretty packaging, especially if it is in a cupboard. 

If you send things out, at home or work, consider if you can reuse cardboard boxes your deliveries come in rather than buying new.  Infill packaging can also be reused, or you can make your own using a cardboard shredder.

Perhaps my favourite of all are those pretty pointless shower caps from hotels.  They fit over bowls so well keeping food protected or helping bread dough to rise.  They can be wiped and used time and time again instead of festering in a suitcase or washbag for years!

 

Please consider taking on one or more of these challenges with your next shop.  Perhaps challenge yourself to try one new swap a month – if you get on with it keep it, if not try not to worry but keep thinking of what you can do.  Don’t ever forget that many small steps lead to big changes:

  1. No clingfilm
  2. Bar soap instead of liquid
  3. Refill liquid soap
  4. Plastic free fruit and/or vegetables
  5. Refill at least one dry product (eg. pasta, rice)
  6. Plastic free laundry or cleaning items

As always I hope this has been useful, and if you have any questions or suggestions please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you!

Laura

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