It's Plastic Free July!
Over the last few years, we’ve all become a lot more aware of the problem of plastic pollution and the huge issues it poses for our planet.
Globally, we produce 400 million tonnes of plastic every year, 40% of which is single-use. Much of this plastic cannot be recycled and isn’t biodegradable, so after being used just a few times it gets sent to landfill or, worse, makes its way into the environment, where it releases harmful chemicals into the ecosystem as it breaks down and is extremely dangerous to wildlife (according to the UN, plastic waste kills an estimated 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals annually).
What’s more, almost all plastics are made from chemicals that come from the production of planet-warming fuels (such as gas, oil, and coal), so the manufacture and disposal of plastics is also contributing significantly to the climate crisis. In fact, by 2050, it’s estimated that plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the world’s total “carbon budget” – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants.
We’re challenging you to reduce your plastic usage!
Plastic Free July, an annual campaign run by the Plastic Free Foundation, aims to educate people on how we can all be part of the solution to the plastic problem.
While going completely plastic free is a big ask, taking small steps to actively reduce our use of single-use plastics is something that everyone can do and, collectively, it could have a massive, positive impact.
That’s why this month we’re asking all our colleagues across the Medigold Health Group to make a Plastic Free Pledge, whether that’s committing to making a permanent swap to a plastic-free alternative or challenging themselves (or their whole family!) to not buy any single-use plastic for a day, a week, or even the whole of July!
We’d love for you to join us in our efforts – why not tell us about your personal Plastic Free Pledges via our social media channels, and keep us posted on your progress?
If you’re not sure where to start, read on for our tips on some easy plastic-free swaps to get you on your way!
Our top plastic-free swaps
Throughout the pandemic, wearing a face mask when we’re out and about has become second nature, but 90% of all masks used by the public are disposable. Made from non-biodegradable plastic microfibres, 129 billion of them are being thrown away every month. Reusable, washable natural-fabric masks are a much more planet-friendly choice, so if you can, ditch the disposables and opt for these instead.
In the UK, we use approximately 7.7 billion plastic water bottles every year (that’s 150 per person, on average). Switching to a reusable bottle and filling up on tap water is an easy swap to reduce your plastic use, and it will save you money too.
Annually, Britons throw away 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups (along with their plastic linings and lids), with only one in every 400 being recycled. Invest in a reusable coffee cup to use when treating yourself to a takeaway latte or cappuccino and save on the plastic.
Did you know that many well-known teabag brands use polypropylene, a sealing plastic that is neither recyclable nor biodegradable, to keep the bags from falling apart? Or that some teabags are made entirely of plastic and release billions of microplastic particles into your cup while every time you make a brew? If you don’t fancy making the switch to loose-leaf, make sure you check the label on your teabags and go for a plastic-free brand instead.
Plastic carrier bags
Despite the significant drop in the use of single-use carrier bags since the introduction of the bag charge several years ago, sales of ‘Bags for Life’ (which contain considerably higher amounts of plastic and take even longer to biodegrade) have increased hugely. Try to extend the life of any plastic bags you have by reusing them as much as possible, and once they’ve had it, replace them with more durable fabric ones that can be used over and over again (and don’t forget to take them with you when you go shopping!).
It’s estimated that British households use enough cling film every year to go around the circumference of the earth 30 times over, and none of it is recyclable. Rather than wrapping your sandwich in plastic, switch to a lunch box instead and store leftovers in lidded containers (using old glass jars or Tupperware you already have is fine!) or simply cover with a plate.
Shampoo and soap
There are lots of bathroom swaps you can make to reduce your consumption of single-use plastic, but the easiest is probably switching your bottles of shampoo and shower gel for shampoo and soap bars, which don’t come with any plastic packaging. If that’s not for you, why not check out refillable options, which many brands now offer online.
Millions of us use disposable razors, but as well as being expensive, they are also very hard to recycle and usually end up in landfill. Opt for a reusable safety razor that uses replaceable, recyclable metal blades instead, and you could save plastic and a small fortune!
The Marine Conservation Society has found that wet wipes (including makeup and cleaning wipes) were the third most common litter item found on UK beaches in 2020, with an average of 18 found per 100m of coastline. With the majority laced with plastic, most wet wipes that are flushed down the toilet don’t break down in the sewer system and end up being washed out to sea. They’re also not that kind on your skin! Choose reusable fabric face and cleaning cloths instead.
You can find out more about Plastic Free July at Plastic Free July – Be Part of the Solution
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