Plastic Free July

It’s Plastic Free July and many of us are trying to reduce our plastic consumption, in an effort to control the plastic pollution problem and the devastating effect it is having on our natural environment. Here at Plastic@Bay we are advocates of plastic free living through our work, and in our personal lives. We clean plastic pollution from local beaches, recycle ocean plastic in our workshop, Plastic Lab, and promote plastic free living by selling a wide range of plastic free alternatives, both in our shop and online. We also do our best to maintain a plastic free household. This is not so easy. It has been a long journey of discovery and we have yet to become completely plastic free.

We quickly realized that from an environmental prospective it is better to reduce plastic consumption, than relying on plastic recycling as a solution. In the UK an estimated 70% of post consumer plastic waste ends up in landfill or incinerators causing huge emission problems, or ending up in the sea. Of the remaining 30%, approx 66% is exported. A recent study researching the fate of exported post consumer plastic in Europe estimates that an average of 3% or 83,187 Mg (tonnes) of exported European plastic in 2017 ended up in the ocean. In the first half of 2019, Turkey was the UK’s main export destination, receiving a 26.3 % share of the UK’s plastic exports, followed by Hong Kong and the Netherlands. Turkey has a poor record in waste management, in 2018 it was ranked 14th in the list of countries with the greatest mass of mismanaged plastic waste entering the ocean, and in 2019 the OECD Environmental Performance Reviews reported that only 10% of it waste was recycled, with the rest going to landfill. An investigation by BBC News even found that some plastic waste from Britain sent to Turkey for recycling being dumped and burned on the side of roads.

The obvious solution to our plastic problem is to produce and use less of it. In this article, we propose the best ways you can reduce your plastic consumption.

First, ‘Stop Using Single Use Plastic’, this includes food packaging, toiletries and cleaning products. Globally,more than 40% of plastic is used just once, 91% of plastic isn’t recycled, and 80% of plastic ever produced have been “lost”, into the natural environment; landfill, lakes and rivers, the ocean, and our beaches.

We have compiled a list of plastic free alternative, and practices to help you eradicate plastic consumption from your day to day life. Plastic Free alternatives are becoming increasingly popular, so it’s never been a better time to go plastic free.

Day to Day

ProblemSolutionWe Recommend
Take away cupReusable Cup Hydro Flask keeps your coffee warmer longer
Plastic BottlesReusable water bottleChilly Bottle, I have mine three years.
Plastic bagsReusable bag Buy one from your favourite charity, Surfers Against Sewage.
Wrappers: sandwiches,
crisps, chocolate.
Homemade sandwiches,
plastic free packaging
Beeswax wraps instead of clingfilm
Divine Chocolate is plastic free and lives up to its name.
Two Farmers crisps come in home compostable packs. 

Toiletries

ProblemSolutionWe Recommend
Plastic ToothbrushesBamboo ToothbrushEnvironmental, Humble, bamboo toothbrushes
Plastic Toothpaste Toothpaste tabsDenttabs 100% Natural
Plastic bottles; Shower gel, Shampoo, ConditionerSoap, Shampoo and Conditioner barsEcosoaps made in the Highlands from all natural ingredients. 
Plastic bottles, cleansers, moisturizersMetal bottles and glass jarsNuff Stuff, Conscious Skincare
Plastic Deodorant bottlesPlastic Free DeodorantsEarth Conscious 100%
Tampons with plastic applicatorsMenstrual Cup and Cloth Sanitary padsOrganiCup and Cheeky Wipes period proof panties.

Food Packaging

ProblemSolutionWe Recommend
Plastic Food packaging Buy rice, pasta, sugar, flour, lentils etc in bulk directly from wholesalerHighland Wholefoods, Inverness
Real Foods, Edinburgh 
Fruit and Veg packaged in plasticAvoid large supermarket chains
Buy local produce
MacLeod Organics, Inverness
Post-tatoes, Scourie

Cleaning Products

ProblemSolutionWe Recommend
Polyester cloths
Plastic scrubbers
Compostable Sponges Natural fibres scrubbersIf You Care, Compostable Sponges.
Handmade Cotton Dish Cloths
Safix 100% Coconut Fibre Wash Pads
Plastic bottled cleaning productsPowders in cardboard boxes when available,
Bulk buy washing up liquid, floor cleaner etc
Washing Powder
Ecover 5L or 15L washing up liquid from Highland Wholefoods
Bio-D   5L Floor Cleaner, Bathroom Cleaner and Surface Sanitizer

The next problem is fashion, we need to rethink our clothing choices. About 60 per cent of material made into clothing is plastic, which includes polyester, acrylic and nylon textiles. These synthetic fabrics are lightweight, durable, affordable and flexible. Every time they’re washed, they shed tiny plastic fibres called microfibres, a form of microplastics. Laundry alone causes around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres to be released into the ocean every year. While 85 percent of textiles are sent to landfills, which amounts to 21 billion tons a year. Beyond the environmental impact, the fashion industry is closely linked to child labour, gender and poverty issues.

The solution is to stop buying into Fast Fashion. If you insist on changing your wardrobe regularly, why not buy second hand. Take care of the clothes you have and keep them longer. Buy clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton, wool and hemp. If you do have clothes made from plastic that you don’t want to part with wash them in a Guppyfriend washing bag, a simple concept that holds onto plastic fibres released during washing.

These are just a few ideas to help you on your plastic free journey, I hope it helped. If you have any question, email joan.darcy@plasticatbay.org.

Next month, we explore microplastics in personal care and cleaning products. The microbead has been banned, but microplastics remain an ingredient in many of the cosmetics and cleaning products we consume.

3 Replies to “Plastic Free July

  1. I would like to be part of a regular beach/river- cleaning organization. I often pick up rubbish along the Kelvin river, but feel a group meeting regularly would be far more effective . Can you recommend how to achieve this, thanks?
    Julie MacGilp.

    1. Hi Julie,
      We started when we joined Surfers against Sewage and organised quarterly cleans. It was very easy, we had a van and put a poster in the local shop. Local schools often organise cleans too maybe contact them. I know that keep Britain Tidy offers equipments to people wanting to organise a clean, your council might be helpful too. A poster to get to know like-minded people in your area may be a good starting point?

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