Yesterday marked the end of our week without plastic as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge.
It was an interesting week, but tough going at times as we hunted for alternatives to the plastic we often rely on. It’s fine for a week, but on a long-term basis we felt that it would take a lot of time, money and effort to avoid plastic completely.
If you are keen to cut down on your plastic consumption, our advice is to start with small changes that you know you’ll be able to keep up. If you try to change your habits and lifestyle too drastically, it’ll just be too difficult and you are more likely to give up.
Another important consideration is that while we do what we can as individuals, ultimately it is manufacturers and retailers who have the power to reduce our reliance on plastic. But it’s up to us to push them to do this.
So with all that in mind, here are our top tips:
- Get reusable alternatives to plastic items. We have reusable shopping bags available which you can pick up at our events. If you already have some of those, go a bit further if you can – get reusable fruit and vegetable bags to take shopping, or a reusable lunch bag or box, or a reusable thermal mug for hot drinks or water bottle for cold ones.
- Choose stuff with as little packaging as possible. Buy loose items or refills, or buy in bulk. Or choose glass or cardboard options as an alternative to plastic. If you want to influence manufacturers to use less packaging, there’s some good advice on how to do this on Recycle for Scotland.
- When you really can’t avoid plastic, remember to recycle. Most people know that plastic drinks bottles can be recycled. But what about bottles for shampoo, shower gel, handwash, fabric conditioner, washing up liquid, cleaning products and so on? All of those can be rinsed out and recycled in your black box
or in the red-lidded bins at recycling points. We’ll also be expanding the range of plastics recycled with the introduction of the planned new mixed recycling service. This is expected to take plastic trays and containers too – look out for more info soon.
Finally, we only did our challenge for a week, but there are people out there who are taking it on for longer. So for more information and tips, have a look at the Single Use Plastic blog, the Plastic Challenge Pinterest Board, or if you’re on Twitter, search #plasticchallenge.