Be sure to register for the Plastic Free July challenge if you haven't already as they will be sending you more useful tips during July.
More than 6 out of 10 of us are already refusing plastic shopping bags, avoiding pre-packed fruit and veg, picking up other people's litter and avoiding buying bottled water.
Choosing to be part of the solution, you can act by:
- Avoiding products in plastic packaging (choose alternatives)
- Reducing where possible (opt for refills, remember your reusable shopping bags)
- Refusing plastics that escape as litter (e.g. straws, takeaway cups, utensils, balloons)
- Recycling what cannot be avoided
Here's some hints & tips -
- Bin Liners - instead of plastic bags, line with layers of newspaper
- Glad Wrap/Cling film - use containers, aluminium foil, beeswax wraps
- Coffee cups - buy yourself a keep cup to use and have it with you
- Water bottles - refill your own water bottle
- Plastic straws - use your lips, or paper, bamboo or metal straws
- Plastic bags - use your arms, a cardboard box or reusable bags
- Shampoo - solid bar shampoo
- Toilet paper- look for brands not wrapped in plastic - Who Gives A Crap is an awesome choice
- Disposable nappies - use cloth instead
- Wipes of any type - invest in good quality cleaning fibres/cloths
- Toothbrush - look for bamboo alternatives
- Plastic cutlery - BYO, have a set in your bag for the occasions when you eat on the run so you don't have to accept the single use variety
- Coffee pods - go for filtered, instant or barista.
So, what's the problem with single-use plastics?
Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, and along the way will degrade into smaller and smaller pieces called "microplastics", a material that has lately been working its way into the food chain. They're never actually disappear at all, meaning that ever single piece of plastic that's ever been made is still in existence! Even so-called "biodegradable" plastics require precise conditions to break down properly, and more often than not simply end up in landfill with everything else we throw away.
As well as the toxins that these plastic fragments bring with them, a terrifying number of birds and marine life are dying from entanglement in marine debris and from plastic pieces clogging up their digestive systems, causing a slow death by starvation.
In fact, a 2014 study revealed there were 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in Oceans around the world. The Washington post has done the maths - "With a global population of about 7.2 billion, that's nearly 700 pieces per person."
So, do your bit by reducing this number a little during the month of July!
Be a plastic-free gift giver:
- Give an experience. Try a restaurant voucher, meals, movie tickets etc. Just check before-hand that the vouchers aren't plastic!
- Give a book. Who doesn't look a good book. Go for a plastic free soft cover.
- Wrap gifts without plastic tape. You could learn the art of furoshiki (wrapping with fabric), reuse gift bags you have received or reuse wrapping paper you have received. Use a t towel as part of your gift
- Make your gifts. You could give homemade soap or deodorant or try a plastic free cooking recipe.
Here's a short video from 1 Million Women on preparing for Plastic Free July:
Lock in the next CFWR lunch to learn more on working towards a sustainable, waste free home.