A global initiative to help rid the world of plastic waste is encouraging us all to make changes this month. Sustainability and protecting the planet is very close to our hearts, at LifestyleGarden, so we offer some top tips on how to support Plastic Free July and make changes in your own life that will make a difference to our world.
Reduce, re-use and recycle
Following the rule of the three Rs has an important impact on the planet, helping to minimalize what is sent to landfill and also ensuring that the oil, water and other resources used to make these items aren’t wasted, as they would be if goods aren’t re-used.
- Reduce – this is all about cutting your consumption of plastic. Ask yourself some simple questions before you make a purchase: “do I really need this?”, “is there another option with less packaging?”, “is there an alternative made from recycled materials?”. Choose products housed in glass, metal or unlined paper packaging, wherever possible and try switching to non-liquid soaps and detergents.
- Recycle – do your research and find out what can be recycled in your local area, as well as educating yourself about the rules and etiquette (whether you have to separate different materials, wash containers before putting in the bin, crush metal cans, squash plastic bottles, etc). Take advantage of charity collection bags for old toys, fashion accessories and other household items (check instructions on the bag for what they will accept) or donate these goods directly to a local charity shop if they are in good-enough condition to sell.
- Re-use – opt for re-usable items instead of disposable, whether that’s a coffee cup, water bottle, shopping bag, straw, food wraps (rather than clingfilm), cutlery, or sanitary products. There are some fantastic alternatives out there once you start looking. Also, consider if you can make use of any plastic products before chucking them in the recycling bin: keep small plastic bottles or jars handy for mixing your own homemade salad dressings, use plastic containers in the garden as planters, bird feeders or even a DIY sprinkler. This can also help you to reduce your consumption by repurposing things in your home, avoiding the need to always buy something new.
If you can’t recycle items within your local authority, then search for specialist recycling schemes near you, such as TerraCyle and even initiatives by high-street shops, like Boots. We know it might require a bit more effort on your part, rather than relying on your regular kerbside collection, but the difference it can make to our planet is huge.
Campaign for change
Spreading awareness, having conversations and pushing for change is the only way this message can grow, and we can rid the world of plastic waste.
Look for events near you that you can join or even host your own event at home, work or school, encouraging others to break the plastic habit and consider plastic-free solutions. This could be a plastic-free morning tea (everybody loves cake after all!); you could work with a local café to set up a mug library; or even go big and host a pot-luck summer party, where each of your guests bring something tasty to eat in a non-plastic dish and you show just how easy it is to entertain without the use of disposable plastic.
Put pressure on the Government to regulate manufacturers and retailers in order to minimize packaging, and equally hold them accountable for the recycling of their products by implementing specialist schemes. Some big brands already do this – Mac Cosmetics offers a takeback scheme for its beauty products packaging; Canon has a recycling scheme for its toner cartridges and even covers the cost of shipping; and Brita’s initiative sees the plastic casing of its cartridges recycled to make household goods, while the ion exchange resin inside is cleaned and re-used – so there is no reason others shouldn’t take greater responsibility for the products they put out into the market.
For more information and inspiration, visit Getting started – Plastic Free July.