Single Use Plastics

Welcome to the third in this series of blogs focusing on sustainability by Business, Economics and Finance student, Debbie Andrews. In this blog she is focusing on single use plastics:

60% of people saying reducing plastic use is their top sustainability priority. So, this time I am going to challenge you to reduce your consumption of single use plastic, when you are doing your weekly shop, Follow, my four easy suggestions and see how many you can tick off this week.

Shop with reusable bags

2015 saw the introduction of the 5 pence charge for plastic bags in major retailers. Since then, the average number bought by each of us each year has fallen from 140 to 4. Everyone can see this is a huge improvement. However, the Government intends to increase this charge to 10p per bag from next month and include all retailers to drive down out the last remaining bag sales.

It’s a good idea to take a reusable bag every time you shop. There are a wide variety available. Popular styles include roll ups that fit in the bottom of your rucksack for that spontaneous after-class shop or larger jute ones made from natural fibres. Reusable bags also make great gifts for friends and family.

Stopping buying cling film.

Inspired to act after watching a David Attenborough program, I challenged myself 3 years ago to not buy anymore cling and have not used any since. The annual use of cling film in this country is enough to go around the equator 30 times. Most of this is single use. So here are some ways to avoid using it.

Use containers to store food in the fridge, plastic tubs are great for this. To save buying them look at what you are throwing away, screw top jars, food packaging like houmous tubs or those Chinese takeaway containers, all can be washed and reused.

Alternatively put the food in a bowl and cover with a silicon lid. These can bought in various sizes, are microwaveable and keep the protected food fresh. You can buy silicone food pouches for things like sandwiches, but an alternative are beeswax or rapeseed food wraps. These are reusable for up to a year and can be bought online from among other places, local supplier Your Fluffy Fix via Etsy or Facebook.

Buy loose fruit and vegetables.

Shops love to protect fruit and vegetables by wrapping them in plastic. This generates 1.2 billion plastic bags that are mainly non-recyclable. However, many fruits and vegetables come in their own natural protection called peel, so do not need added plastic. Try these ideas:

In a supermarket, choose the loose version of whatever food you’re buying. This way you only buy what you need, avoid the plastic and save yourself the expense of buying a bag of something you only want a few of.

Alternatively, use a farm shop or traditional fruit and vegetable shop such as the Fruit Shack at St. Peters Garden Centre in Worcester. Immediately on visiting you will notice much less plastic. The staff are also knowledgeable about what they are selling, allow you to buy as much or as little of what you need and can recommend new products to try. Like the limequat I had, which I learnt was a great alternative to a lemon.

Visit a Zero Waste shop

These are also known as a refill shops and enable you to avoid single use plastic altogether, by selling loose ingredients in paper bags or refilling the customers’ own containers. Worcester has its very own zero waste shop called Pack It In, that sells a wide range of loose food stuffs, such as pastas, grains, baking ingredients and herbs. They offer 10% discount for University of Worcester students, deliveries and recipe ideas on their website. With most of the ingredients available in store in the quantity needed for their suggested recipes, it is easy to have a go at some home cooking and you can upload photos of your results to the shop’s social media.

Don’t worry if you do not have any containers or bottles Pack It In has free ones to use on your first visit, so take your student ID card and join the zero-waste ‘revolution’.

There we go, I have given you four simple ideas to reduce your single use plastic consumption. Challenge yourself to see how many you or your house can complete when next heading to the shops and happy shopping.

Debbie 🙂