You may have noticed some changes that we’ve been making here at the café recently: the ‘use me don’t waste me’ paint station, your ceramics returned to you with re-used packing materials, the introduction of a 10p charge if you don’t have a re-usable coffee cup…and more that’ll we share with you in a separate blog.
We’re working towards becoming a Plastic Free Champion with our friends at Plastic Free Peckham and we’ve asked them to write a blog giving you some ideas of what you can do at home too.
Plastic Free Peckham have put together their ten top tips for reducing your single use plastic without giving up doing the things you enjoy.
Whether you’re out and about or hanging out at home, there are many items you can cut back on, or swap to plastic free alternatives, to save money and be more sustainable this Autumn.
Plastic is ubiquitous in modern society – most things we buy come wrapped in plastic, many of our clothes are made of plastic fibres, and many of the products we use every day are plastic. But they needn’t be. There are lots of alternatives available, and by choosing reusable instead of disposable items, you can make a huge impact. You can find many useful swaps in local shops such as Gather on Bellenden Road and Bring Your Own on Evelina Road which both offer household staples unpackaged for you to fill up your containers from home.
Ten top tips
01. Travel by public transport, cycle or walk whenever you can. Burning fossil fuels such as oil and petrol (which 99% of plastic is made from!) is one of the main culprits in increasing our carbon footprint. To reduce this we need to cut back on using fossil fuels wherever possible, from plastics to transport. And travelling by public transport means you don’t have the trauma of finding a parking space in London!
02. Always carry your own reusable water bottle, cup and shopping bag. Many shops and cafes will now refill your water bottle for free (get the Refill app to see where you can do this on the go!), which means you don’t have to carry several bottles to keep you and your family going all day! Save your back and save you money! There are lots of options for bottles and reusable cups now, including those with lids (on sale at Punk Me Up soon!)
03. If you are planning on being out all day, take your own packed lunch and cutlery kit – lunch box, fork, knife and spoon. 40% of the plastic waste in the UK comes from single use packaging like sandwich boxes and crisp packets, but many cafes that offer fresh take away food will happily fill your own container as long as it’s clean and can withstand the heat of your lunch.
04. If you’re out for just a morning or afternoon, and you have hungry kids with you, don’t forget your own snacks to avoid those tempting plastic wrapped impulse buys. You’ll use a lot less packaging over all if you buy large bags of nuts/crackers/biscuits and take small amounts out with you in a tupperware each day. And if you buy these items from a refillery (packaging free store) then you’ll use even less packaging!
05. If you fancy an ice cream, try to get one with the least packaging around it. A scoop of ice cream in a cone is your best bet, and doesn’t include any plastic, unlike a scoop in a tub (most of the paper ones have a very thin plastic membrane coating it to keep it watertight!) with plastic spoon. And if you’re grabbing one from the freezer, try to choose one with paper wrapping over the ‘crinkly’ unrecyclable wrappers, or those with a plastic stick or base.
06. If you forget your own water bottle and you find yourself having to buy something, choose an aluminium can (widely recycled!) or glass bottle (widely recycled, and endlessly recyclable, unlike plastic which is generally recycled once!) over a carton (with plastic straw – tricky with kids!), or a plastic bottle. And if it has to be a plastic bottle, go for a clear one, as the coloured ones are less widely recycled.
07. Take your litter and recycling home. It is much more likely to be recycled if you take your single use item home, clean it and put it in your recycling bin than if it ends up in a park or street bin. Lots of this gets contaminated by other waste (even in a recycling bin!) and so can’t be recycled, or gets blown out of the bin, into the gutter and down the drain, where it enters our water system and becomes a risk to marine and land wildlife!
08. When you are out and about, if you are on your way to a place where you can wash your hands, if you see some litter, pick it up and put it in the nearest waste or recycling bin you can see. This will help to stop it ending up in our hedgerows, waterways and oceans.
9. Try to carry an extra container with you for those bits and bobs you can pick up plastic free whilst you’re out and about. Fishmongers, butchers and deli’s will all happily put your purchases in a clean tupperware to take single use plastic out of the equation!
10. Over the summer you could choose a room in your home, maybe the kitchen or bathroom, and think what plastic items you can get rid of and swap out for alternatives that have less impact on the environment.
Kitchen Get your milk delivered in glass bottles rather than buying plastic from the shop; swap your kitchen sponge or scourer for a sustainable alternative (available at Gather and BYO); and if you are partial to carbonated water, consider buying a soda stream, rather than buying sparkling water in plastic bottles. This is a great money saver over time.
Bathroom Swap single use plastic bottled hand soaps, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel for solid varieties that are packaging free or packaged in tins and cardboard cartons, available from Gather and BYO; choose toilet paper that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic (Suma is a good UK brand of recycled toilet roll packaged in corn starch); and swap your disposable plastic razor and toothbrush for a non-plastic, bamboo alternative.
And enjoy the challenge! Plastic Free Peckham is a local volunteer group working with small businesses, schools and Southwark Council to reduce the single use plastic in our local community.