This year's Plastic Free July campaign certainly seems a little quieter than last year's. Understandably, there is SO much happening around the world right now! With many pressing social issues needing urgent attention and action and all whilst a world-wide pandemic is going on, reducing our plastic consumption is on a bit of a back burner.
Although the focus has shifted away from environmental issues, it’s not all a backwards step! With more people working from home or have been furloughed, it has meant people have been cooking from scratch and buying less on-the-go takeaway lunch options and drinks that come in single use plastics. Additionally, whilst non-essential shops were closed for a couple of months, people purchased less fast-fashion clothes, which often contain microplastics which end up in the ocean. And less transport during lockdown also meant lower carbon emissions.
With many café’s still not allowing people to use their re-useable cups and bulk stores not allowing people to use their own containers, we’ve might not been able to practice some of the usual ‘eco-friendly habits’ (interestingly though, a statement has been released by scientists to say re-useables are safe!). So, we thought we’d come up with a few tips to reduce plastic during COVID-19 and share some eco-activists and small businesses who are doing some great work for the planet..
Tips for reducing plastic & where to shop during Coronavirus
- Buying essentials like rice and pasta from the supermarket in bulk (ie. choosing a 3kg bah instead of several 500g bags)
- Choosing washable cloth face coverings instead of single use ones. Etsy is a great place to support handmade and independent sellers. Many also donate to a charity with each mask sold. Our favourite masks are from @clairebands... Claire hand-makes them with fabric offcuts and is donating 50% of revenue to NHS charities. She also does adorable neckerchiefs for pups, so you can be a matching pair.
- Ordering online from plastic free bulk stores such as Real Plastic Free and Whole Food Earth
- Choosing eco-friendly toiletries - they are now a lot more accessible and aren’t just found at specialist or independent stores! Many supermarkets and Holland and Barret offer bamboo toothbrushes as well as soaps and shampoo bars in recyclable cardboard packaging
- Baking and making from scratch such as bread, sweet treats, hummus, snack bars (all things which usually come in plastic)
- Choosing glass jars over plastic in the supermarket (cooking sauces, olives, spices, nut butters, condiments etc) and reusing them as pots and vases around the home
- Growing herbs and vegetables at home
Images: Claire Bands masks (and matching pup neckerchiefs)
Here are some of eco-conscious Instagram accounts we find inspiring:
@sustainably_vegan – A London based intersectional low waste & vegan activist
@mikaelaloach – A climate justice & antiracism activist with a focus on sustainability and inclusivity
@zerowastedoc – UK NHS Doctor who is a climate activist and advocates environmental sustainability for busy people
@blackgirlstrekkin- A community-based organisation that represents diversity & inclusion within the adventure lifestyle, all whilst promoting education & planet conservation
@queerbrownvegan- A zero-waste & vegan environmental educator
Images: Left @queerbrownvegan, Middle @blackgirlstrekkin, Right @zerowastedoc.
Small businesses focusing on reducing waste/plastic:
- Hummingbird Hawkmoth Handmade ethical jewellery using recycled silver and reclaimed brass. Uses recycled and plastic free packaging
- Pure Chimp Natural Skincare- 100% natural skin care that comes in 100% recyclable glass, aluminium tin or paper packaging. Products are certified by The Vegan Society, are 100% palm oil free and contain no preservatives. They are a member of 1% For the Planet and 5% of profits go to savethechimps.org
- Pure Hope Clothing- A black owned indie clothing brand that creates one-off ethical & sustainable pieces made from upcycled fabrics. They are in a partnership with a social project that runs a Women’s Empowerment Sewing Project and child education Non-Government Organisation
- Real Junk Food Project- A community-based organisation that has inspired over 120 projects and cafes around the world. They intercept food waste (from supermarkets, wholesalers & local shops) destined for landfill and use it to feed people who need it on a ‘pay as you feel’ concept
- Mind the Cork- A black owned contemporary small business that makes eco-friendly homeware products made from cork- a biodegradable, renewable and recyclable material. Cork doesn’t require trees to be cut down, so it helps maintain wildlife diversity and promotes reforestation.
What we are doing to reduce plastic
We focus on sourcing sustainable materials, manufacturing locally and using eco-friendly, plastic-free packaging
- All cards printed since January 2020 are now packaged plastic-free
- When you order from our retail website, individual cards and envelopes are package-free and multiple products are grouped together with a paper ‘belly band’
- Wholesale and retail orders are dispatched without any excess plastic packaging
- Wholesale orders are dispatched from our fulfilment centre in cardboard boxes, paper tape and recycled paper padding, all of which are fully recyclable or can be repurposed, used as packaging or for shop storage
- We pack all website orders in our Brighton-based studio, using A Plastic Planet Plastic Free-certified mailers
- Our branding stickers are made from recycled paper and are plastic free
We hope this gives you a bit more positivity! Ultimately, keeping everyone safe, healthy and happy during this time is one of the most important things we can all be doing. Front line workers, keyworkers and those in the service & hospitality industry need all the PPE they can get, and although it’s all single use, that is totally okay. People’s safety first! Choosing a more eco-friendly lifestyle, is certainly a privilege and not everyone is in a position to do so. We can only do our best - by what is economically and physically available to us.