Can you reduce plastic use?

The recent Blue Planet 2 TV series has raised awareness of plastic pollution.  We can all do our bit to reduce plastic use and therefore the risk of pollution caused by it.  Below are some ideas…

Single use plastics such as bags, cling film, water bottles and straws are wasteful.  Try reusable and compostable, beeswax coated, cotton fabric to wrap food instead of sandwich bags or clingfilm.


Refillable bottles

When out shopping or travelling take a refillable bottle of water from home.

There are useful websites which signpost where bottles can be filled for free: & (for instance).

Straws often slip through filters and end up in the sea, so ask up-front for no straw when ordering drinks while out.  There are online petitions you can support to ask companies to switch to paper straws.


Disposable cups

On the news lately there have been stories about the sadly small percentage of disposable cups that are actually recycled.  Plastic bag use has significantly decreased since the 5p charge was brought in, so there is a move to add a charge to single use cups too, as we tend to respond better to sticks than carrots to change our behaviour.  Again there are petitions online to support this move to charging.


Take-away drinks

If buying take-away drinks, greatly reduce the waste (plus often get discounts on the price) by buying one reusable cup and carrying it with you.  Why not bring it to church too, to save resources here!  There are many types available, including a huge variety of designs and sizes of bamboo cups here:


Recycle as much as possible

When we do use disposable cups we must recycle them where possible.  At St. Luke’s, Maidstone we can put both the ripple cups and the plastic water cups in the recycling bins (N.B. this not the case everywhere, so please check first), as the contractor that we pay to take away our recycling has confirmed they can deal with them.  Our recycling & waste company state they separate the card from the plastic liner in the ripple cups.  The card is recycled and the plastic burnt for energy with other waste.


What’s in your cup?

We also need to consider what we put in our cups.  Sadly many teabags contain small amounts of plastic and do not compost completely.  There is a 38 Degrees online petition currently to ask PG to stop using plastic.  Co-op have said they will stop using polyproplene in their own brand teabags later this year.  Traidcraft is aware of the problem.  TeaPigs and Essential Trading are amongst a few that are already plastic-free, Clipper’s string-and-tag bags are plastic-free.  Loose tea leaves are the best option!


Single-use plastic packaging is also wasteful.  Iceland has said it can remove plastic for own brand goods so why not the other shops and named brands themselves?  There are petitions online to ask.  It may put prices up a bit, but surely our planet is worth it?  You can also reduce plastic use by making use of shops that offer refills (such as Ethos, locally) and take your product bottles back to be refilled rather than buying new ones.


When shopping choose loose fruit and vegetables and don’t pick up the small plastic bags supermarkets provide with them.  Where you can’t get loose fruit and veg, reuse or recycle the bags they come in via the carrier bag recycling bins in large supermarkets.


Avoid all products with plastic microbeads in them as these are totally unnecessary.  Look for those that use sand or crushed nutshells instead.  Microbeads can be in products such as toothpastes, exfoliating facial washes and body scrubs.  Avoid ingredients listing polyethylene (PE), nylon etc.  Microfibres are also now a worry.  Many of our clothes are made of plastic-based, artificial fibres and every time we wash them, small fibres are washed down the drains.  Try to buy clothes made of natural fibres.

Microfibres and microbeads are often too small to be filtered out when the waste water is cleaned and so they get into rivers and the sea.  There, they are consumed by plankton or other small animals and work their way up the food chain, even into our food.

Even more serious, while micro-plastics are in the water they can absorb toxins such as persistent organic pollutants e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  You may have seen the baby dolphin on Blue Planet 2 that died, poisoned by his mother’s milk, because her diet of fish that had eaten polluted plastic meant the toxins reached deadly concentrations in her milk.


You can make a difference

If we all make steps to reduce our plastic use and ask suppliers to reduce their use, we will make a difference.

Lent has already started but if you are not cutting back on meat as we suggested last month, or even if you are, you could still join in with Plastic-Less Lent

The Church of England is backing the Lent challenge to reduce the use of plastic. There will be leaflets at the back of church to encourage and challenge.

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