Reducing single-use plastics: Food

Posted on September 9, 2019
Archive : September 2019
Category : News

                                                                                                                

Earlier this year, I attended a seminar on marine litter and waste plastics, run by Geoff Brighty of Plastic Oceans UK. It was quite the eye opener!

I learned that 8 to 12 tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans EVERY YEAR and due to the action of the sun and waves, this is broken down into tiny particles know as microplastics. These are often mistaken for food by marine life, not only resulting in suffering but often a slow and painful death. In addition, the toxins found in the plastic also make their way up the food chain of which we sit at the top. The screening and presentation sparked my curiosity and having subsequently watched the full version on Netflix, ignited my passion to do whatever I can to make a difference.

Unnecessary plastic

Plastic is so heavily integrated into modern society and in the words of our national treasure Sir David Attenborough “It’s absurd to suggest we can do totally without plastic but there are so many areas where we use plastic without a thought”. My focus has been to highlight these areas in my everyday life and look at where I can minimise my use.

The main change I’ve made so far is ditching the supermarket as much as I can. Their over-use of packaging is unnecessary and geared more towards marketing than their environmental impact. Not only am I helping the environment through the following small changes, I’ve found that I spend no more than I usually would on my food shopping and, with a bit of careful planning, I waste less as a result.

Store cupboard

I recently discovered Zero Store, a Warwickshire based zero waste pop-up shop. My store cupboard essentials will now come from there. When I next shop there I’ll take with me the jars I bought from them the last time I visited and have them refilled. I also plan to buy their refillable cleaning products.

Meat and fish

I’ve subscribed to a monthly meat box from a local butcher. Whilst the items don't arrive in plastic-free packaging (the packaging is essential for food safety purposes), it is minimal / contained in less packaging than meat you can purchase from a supermarket. I am also looking into subscribing to a sustainably caught fish/seafood box delivery in the future, to reduce my meat consumption.

Fruit and vegetables

I receive a fruit and veg box delivery from Abel & Cole, an online organic food retailer who use mostly recyclable or re-usable packaging (including a fully bio-degradable bag for their carrots), and I am looking at switching to using my local greengrocer to not only support a local business, but to have more control over the fruit and vegetables I buy on a weekly basis.

Food waste

My local authority does not provide a garden/food waste service as standard – this comes at an extra cost and until very recently, rather embarrassingly, I put food waste into my general waste bin. I’ve since channelled my inner Dave (Daw this time, not Attenborough, Valpak’s packaging guru) and invested in a worktop compost bin and bio-degradable bags, which I dispose of on our compost heap in the garden. I’m yet to install my own wormery, but watch this space!

Dairy

I’ve subscribed to Milk & More, an online service for fresh milk and fruit juice delivered in glass bottles by local milk men/women/people, which you rinse after use and leave out for them to collect and re-use when making the next delivery. I also have eggs in compostable packaging and butter in foil through this service and it’s all organic.

How can you help?

To summarise, here are some simple changes you can make, to help make a difference:

  • Use a greengrocer or subscribe to fruit/veg boxes
  • Purchase milk / eggs / butter and other products from delivery services that promote reusable / recyclable packaging, such as Milk & More
  • Buy meat from a butchers, such as The Meat Room
  • Purchase a compost bin and Bio-degradable bags – Plenty of options online
  • Purchase products from Zero Store zero-waste pop up shop
  • Use reusable cups for hot drinks. I received my Bodum cup from work
  • Invest in a re-usable water bottle for water on the go

I’m now starting to look into environmentally friendly alternatives with regard to clothing and toiletries. Visit the recycle-more Blog page in a few weeks time to find out more.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this weblog represent those of the author, Louise Tompkinson, and are not those of recycle-more, Valpak Limited or any other organisation.