National zero waste week – reducing plastic

Filed in Blog, Videos by on September 2, 2009 8 Comments
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Every little helps - have a look at where you could reduce plastic in your life

Every little helps - have a look at where you could reduce plastic in your life

Next week (7th – 13th September 2009) is National Zero Waste week.

Last week was a huge event with many people pledging to reduce their landfill waste.

This year we’re doing things differently.

National zero waste week this year is a gentle call to action.

If you feel moved and inspired to do something to reduce your household waste then join in with the rest of us.

Every day this week we are featuring a particular type of waste and will be giving you tips on how you can reduce, reuse or recycle yours so that you don’t contribute to the growing problem of litter and waste.

Today we’re focusing on plastic.

Plastic is a massive environmental issue. Not only is it made from oil, a non renewable resource, but it is causing devestestion to wildlife and people all across the world.

Take a look at this video and then read our tips for reducing plastic:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNNW4rES5eM

If we take the various types of plastic seen in that video as our guide, here are some ideas for reducing plastic:

  • Buy loose fruit and veg. In the video an albatross has a net stuck in its mouth and stomach. Buy loose citrus fruit, onions and carrots – this has the added bonus of saving on food waste because you can buy just the amount you need.
  • Cigarette lighters. These are posing a huge problem from marine life where they get mistaken for fish. Buy boxes of matches in cardboard boxes or treat yourself to a refillable lighter if you’re a smoker. You’ll save money in the long run by using a refillable product.
  • Toothbrushes. There are a couple of options for toothbrushes. Either Reduce the amount of plastic you use by buying a toothbrush with a changeable head or ditch the plastic altogether and choose a wooden toothbrush.
  • Bottle caps. Ditch the bottled water habit. Buy a reusable bottle and refill it with filtered tap water.
  • Polystyrene. Many take out coffees and meals leave you with polystyrene to dispose of. Take your own mug to Starbucks (and enjoy a reduction in price) and when given the choice support takeaways who use good old fashioned newspaper, greaseproof paper or foil containers instead of polystyrene.
  • Plastic packaging. Take your own reusable containers to the butcher, fishmonger or deli instead of taking their plastic packaging.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at plastic carrier bags and see what we can do to reduce our use of them.

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (8)

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  1. Mr Green says:

    When I watch these videos, I still get upset as I’m reminded of of our human selfishness. We really think we have the right to rape and plunder this planet, with little regard to the rights of the other inhabitants, like plants and animals. Just because we think we are stronger and smarter, that means we can exploit the environment to give us what we want and give nothing back in return.

    One day, the scales will inevitably tip and there will be nothing left to take, or what is left will be polluted and poisoned. WE still live in the fragile belief that we can just maybe shout loud enough to make people wake up and see what’s coming before it’s too late, before there is no turning back and we can no longer avoid extinction of our species.

    Maybe that is our inevitable fate. After all we are in global terms, the greatest parasite on this planet and the only way that nature can rid itself of the human plague is to allow us to commit the ultimate crime of self-destruction. In the words of George Carlin in Saving the planet The planet is fine … The planet will recover once we are gone. Yeah watch that video… it will make you think!

  2. What a sad video. Now that’s something that should be broadcast to the nation. I can’t help thinking after the Queen’s Speech might be a good opportunity.

    Regarding buying loose fruit – I’ve found the reusable Onya weigh bags useful, which can be used for smaller items such as grapes and soft fruit. For those who are handy with a sewing machine you can even make your own from a light muslin\netting material.

    On a separate note, it was refreshing to come back from holiday to product labelling on boxes of cereal such as mini shredded wheat, which highlights that the plastic inners are recyclable. The instructions stated that this was “where facilities exist” but recommends that consumers should check with their local supermarket to see if they can be included with the other bags that many supermarkets collect. The bags in the Nestle\Cereal Partners boxes are identified as being made from HDPE, so where facilities aren’t available consumers could check with their local councils to see if they can be inserted into HDPE milk cartons for kerbside collection.

    Although it is better to avoid plastic in the first place, I can’t help thinking only a minority of people will take the trouble. For those who are enthusiastic about reducing waste amongst the wider population, it is also a good idea to contact your local council to ask about their plans for introducing wider recycling facilities for plastics. In the UK, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) are investing in workable research and processes for extending the recycling facilities within the UK and appear to be keen to hear from local authorities who want to explore extending their collection facilities. It’s worth a thought 😀

  3. Louie says:

    Buying loose fruit and veg is obviously the best idea but I also am impressed with Sainsburys organic range as a lot of the packaging is biodegradable so you can put it in your compost or bokashi. Look for the biodegradable print all over the bag or it will be noted on the tray.

    I don’t normally sing the praises of the big guys but it’s certainly a step forward.

  4. John Costigane says:

    @Louie: Hi Louie, Biodegradable plastic looks good but there are problems with it. Loose is therefore the best choice.

    Biodegradable needs high temperature composting, not home composting. This requires it to be collected, preferably at the supermarket. A danger of this is admixture to other plastic waste streams. Contamination of either stream renders the waste unusable.

    Using biodegradable without full-cycle systems in place is wasted effort.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Almost Mrs Average: Hey Mrs A; great tip on the home made ONya weigh bags; they would make a nice present perhaps 😉 and good news on the cereal wrapping too. I’s a step in the right direction at least and if it makes it easier for consumers then that’s a good thing.

    @Louie: Hi Louie, welcome to the site; lovely to see you. It’s good you have found a compostable product; have you actually tried them? We’ve investigated these in the past, and, like John mentions, found them to smack a bit of green washing. But we are hopeful a properly compostable bag might be available one day.
    We’ve got a couple of articles you might like to read about this issue:

    http://mzw.wpengine.com/2009/07/is-cornstarch-plastic-packaging-pla-compostable-or-recyclable/

    http://mzw.wpengine.com/2009/06/biodegradable-plastic-bags-carry-more-ecological-harm-than-good/

    It’s not easy being green 😉

  6. When/if I have had the compostable packaging from Sainsbugs I have added it to the Green Waste bin collected by the council.

  7. Louie says:

    Thanks for all the info regarding the Sainsburys packaging, I wasn’t actually aware of these issues. You’re right Mrs Green it isn’t easy being green but at least we have access to forums like this to converse with people with like minded goals and get up to date information to point us in the right direction.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: I would be hung up, drawn and quartered if I did that around here Maisie! Our council are very strict about what goes into the green bins and compostable bags are a no-no

    @Louie: Hey Louie, well we try our best and its through conversations taking place in the comments section that these issues get highlighted. Often the comments provide me with inspiration for future articles, so it’s all good 🙂

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