Plastic. The wonder material that promised so much when its use was scaled up in the 1960’s – a life of hygiene, bright colours and longevity was ours for the taking… and take it we did!
We now produce over 320 million tonnes of new plastic every year, around half of which is for single-use plastic items. So that is around 160 million tonnes of new plastic that will probably be used just once, yet each item can last over 500 years! In fact we don’t really know, as we are yet to outlive any piece of plastic we have ever created. And unless we have incinerated it, every piece of plastic ever created is still here with us…
So what can you do to reduce your own plastic footprint? Tackle your single-use plastic habit!
Here are our top 5 tips on where to start:
1 – Stop buying single-use plastic water bottles. Get a reusable bottle to carry around with you instead, and use the free Refill network to top up your water when out and about.
2 – Get a reusable cup. Disposable coffee / tea cups are mostly lined with polyethylene, making them almost impossible to recycle – and many places also offer a discount for taking a reusable cup. Win win.
3 – Find a local greengrocer. Fruit and veg will be mostly loose and plastic free.
4 – Pre-plan your lunch. Convenience is often where we find single-use plastic, so plan ahead and take your lunch with you every day. It will be cheaper if you prepare it yourself, you will know what is in it, and you can eliminate single-use plastic from it.
5 – Do you really need a straw…? Most of us don’t, so if you think your milkshake or mojito will come with one, just ask for it to be left out.
These may seem like small steps, but they really do add up! See how much you can do to reduce your single-use plastic habit, and encourage others to do the same.
To help you in this mission, the good news is that there are already plenty of local campaigns and businesses in The Living Coast that are working towards creating a single-use plastic-free world.
In 2017 we founded the Plastic Free Pledge in Brighton and Hove, which has now grown in to an international campaign. We started by encouraging local venues to stop using single-use plastic straws, and then added them (for free) to our online map so that everyone could choose to drink single-use plastic free. The campaign has now grown and is tackling more complex single-use plastic issues, including seeking to influence national policy, with local authorities and many big businesses now signed-up as ‘THE PLEDGED’ to implementing positive change (check our website for maps of organisations signed-up across the UK and beyond).
Brighton & Hove and Worthing are now promoting the national Refill campaign (originally founded in Bristol), which encourages cafes, bars and venues to offer free tap water refills for people on the go. Look for the Refill stickers in windows of participating locations, or find them on the Refill app (free), and get your water bottle refilled for free.
Brighton is also host to a number of eco-shopping pioneers, including the fantastic independent supermarket hiSbe on York Place with lots of ‘nude food’ and a ‘refill bar’ and lots of plastic packaging-free items. Nearby in the Open Market off London Road the great little store of WasteNot offers completely zero waste packaging options for dry and wet goods, plus lots of unusual single-use plastic free stuff here too to discover. There is even the UK’s first packaging-free shop on wheels here, Charlotte’s Cupboard that visits many local farmers markets in an electric van, as well as offering door-to-door deliveries.
Going single-use plastic free can seem like a bit of a battle, but these businesses and initiatives show that it really is possible.
Small steps really can add up…