How many bits of plastic have you thrown away so far today? Here's how we can all come together to make it less.
We don’t need to tell you about plastic pollution. After years of hovering relatively under the radar, it’s become a widely-talked about issue in recent times and barely a day passes without another picture popping up showing a rubbish-riddled beach or a death-by-plastic sea creature. It’s a pretty big problem. But as with most big environmental problems, it’s easy to feel like we can’t change much with our own individual behaviour.
Daniel Webb, founder of Everyday Plastic, wants to help combat that misconception. After saving his own plastic for a year and collecting a startling 4,490 pieces in that time, he wants to raise awareness about plastic pollution and encourage action to prevent it.
Everyone can radically reduce their own consumption of plastic with a few small changes, and this will be easier if companies take some simple steps to eradicate it from it in their offices; here’s a few things Daniel suggests:
Make sure there are enough knives, forks and spoons and encourage staff to reject plastic disposable cutlery (which also often comes wrapped in plastic). Get a water filter and provide glasses, or even better, supply your staff with their own reusable water bottles they can keep refilling - anything that removes the temptation to pick up a single use bottle each day. Fridge, plates, bowls, maybe even a microwave - all these things make it easier for people to bring their own food from home.
So much of the single use plastic we throw away every day is food wrapping. You can help cut a lot of it out. Introduce an office fruit bowl, and arrange a delivery from a local greengrocers. Do a deal with a local bakery to supply your bread for morning toast. Get milk delivered in good old-fashioned pint glass bottles, from somewhere like Milk and More (www.milkandmore.co.uk).
Have a look in the fridge. What else could you supply to cut down the amount of plastic in there? Five squeezy bottles of mayo? Buy a big jar. Three tubs of margarine? Supply a communal butter. Come up with a weekly budget and work out how that’s best spent in your office.
Make a list of everything you regularly buy for the office - soap, cleaning products, loo roll etc. - and take a look at what it’s in/how it’s packaged. Then look for alternatives that use less. For example, bars of soap are a far better option than bottled hand soap. Choose one like Dove, where the only packaging is the card box. Save old bottles from cleaning products and start buying refills.
Whatever the product, look into conscientious suppliers, like 'Who Gives a Crap' toilet paper (uk.whogivesacrap.org) - not only is it sans plastic wrapping, it’s made entirely from environmentally friendly materials plus they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those in need.
Chances are that many of your staff grab their lunch from somewhere convenient on the day, and much of these salads, sandwiches, sushi boxes, pasta dishes etc come in a plastic container. Sometimes with a sauce or dip in another plastic container, and often with plastic cutlery, wrapped in plastic. You could make a decent impact on plastic reduction by introducing a day a week where staff are encouraged to make or buy one simple (and non plastic wrapped) sharing dish or accompaniment, then lay them all out in the boardroom for everyone to share. It will save them money, and eating together can be a good opportunity to bond.
Get inventive with ways to discourage plastic use in and out the office, for example you could get some branded reusable coffee cups for your staff and to gift to clients or other businesses or individuals you work with. Not only is it a lovely thing to receive, but you’ll have your company logo going in and out of coffee shops all over town.
Find out more about Daniel Webb's Everyday Plastic initiative here
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