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2017 Fairshare Fabrics

In 2015 I pledged to  use no more than my fair global share of fibres and they had to be sustainably sourced. I was trying to determine what is a reasonable amount of clothing. After all one mans over consumption is after all another’s nothing to wear. However there can be little doubt that we in the UK are consuming fibres in a hugely unsustainable way.

Heres how many textile fibres are produced annually: Total fibres, both natural & synthetic, around 8.5 million tonnes Rough calculations suggest that the average amount of fibres per annum, per person in the world, works out at 11.74 kg

We in the UK are using 55kg of fabric per person and 35kg of that is on clothes. We are obviously taking more than our share of fabrics produced.

If everyone on the planet was to have 35kg of clothes each year, production would have to triple.Fabric production like everything has an environmental impact. I would argue it is not sustainable for this to happen.
So if we cannot produce more, we have to consume less.


Whats a global share?
About 11.74 kg per person
of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres.

I have pledged to use only my global share.As I don’t like synthetics I try to stick to 3.8 kg of natural fibres.
Just so you know a kingsize double duvet cover from Ikea weighs in at 991 grams and a Marks & Spencer short-sleeved tee-shirt is 156 grams.
Why not use 11 .74 kg of natural fibres? I would argue that it is not sustainable for us all to have 11.74 kg of natural fibres a year. This is one of the promoted benefits of plastic, that it takes the pressure off natural resources. Synthetic fabrics mean less land grab to grow cotton. But synthetic fabrics like any other plastic are massively polluting.
So if we cannot produce more, we have to consume less.  This is how the equation works for me:
We cannot exceed current levels of production:
We cannot expect others to want less than we have:
We cannot swamp the market with synthetics:
Therefore I have to live with my global share of natural fibres.
But can it be done? Cautious reply after 2 and a half years is yes it can.

You can read more on the subject and check my figures and sources here.

Whats Sustainable Clothing?
Plastic-free, fair-trade, ethically made and lots more.You can read my clothing manifesto here
You can read more on the subject and check

Second Hand Clothes
Can I buy second hand clothes to supplement my allowance? No. I can buy second-hand but it has to count as part of my allowance.

Past Years

My Wardrobe
At the end of 2014 I had 45 items of clothing.
2015
I purchased 3.15 kg of natural fibre products and 3.2 kg of synthetic fibres.
2016
I purchased 3.835kg natural fibres, (including 65g surplus of natural fibres from last year to use up) 318g synthetic fibres, 45g regenerated fibres
More information on all the above can be found here

This Year

Activities I realise that clothes are dependant on lifestyle so I have included a history for each year outlining what we did.

Spain in Winter

I needed warm as were were spending January in Spain. Contrary to popular opinion it can get very cold. Despite this the houses are not built for the cold and what with the tiled floors and wall and high ceilings can get pretty uncomfortable. can Warm lounge wear is the order of the day.
I bought a pair of cashmere pyjamas from TK Max They consist of a jumper which is really rather nice and could be worn out normally and a pair of long johns ditto. They were rather expensive but is my last experience of cashmire, the big scarf, has been extremely positive I thought it was worth the money. Also when researching for all wool leggings I found they were all expensive.
These though described as pyjamas and can be worn round the house. I spent many happy hour both during the day and night sleeping and lounging in my cashmere pyjamas and they  stood up to it well.

Clothes

Bought Clothes

cashmere pyjamas weigh in at 517 g
My cardigan is falling apart so I bought a new cotton cardigan from TK max Pure cotton it weighs in at 187 g
My green skinny fit trousers  from Marks & Spencer’s 357g

My sarong weighs in at 212 g From Indonesia pure cotton very thin very beautiful.
knickers

Terms
By gifted I mean something that people have passed on to me because they no longer want it. Second hand but not purchased.
When I say cotton/ natural fibres that doesn’t include buttons and other such stuff which will almost certainly be synthetic. As might be the thread used to sew the fabric.
Unless you are talking about my own homemade clothes where I can tell you exactly what plastic has been used.

Sewing
I can’t afford to buy eco clothing but I can afford to make it. I have been stiching like a demon and this year most of my new clothes have been handmade. Sadly my sewing skills are not so great. There are ome rather strange outfits in there. You can read my plastic free sewing tips here…

Made Clothes
Boiled wool shrug 417
Silk tunic 245

Liberty dress 218
Billy Bunter shorts 168
grey silk wool mix trousers 275

Total so far 2.596 kg

tee shirt bought in Malaysia

2 towels in Japan

Details
I will be posting more info on all my  clothes later in the year.

Synthetics
coat
Bikini top 97

More

I will be posting more information as the year progresses. Do check back.

 

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2017 June

Hello there. We are now in Japan where it is suprisingly green. Lots more trees than I expected. We are travelling round in a carvan. That is a car big enough to have a fixed bed in the back but no more. It came with a little camp stove and some bowls. We are staying in rest stops. These are car parks with toilets where you can sleep the night for free. It’s fanatastic but its not a campsite and cooking has to be quick and discrete. And there are no pot washing facilities.Or showers come to that. It’s an interesting experience. More of which later.

In the meantime…..

New Kid On The Blog

Sarah from Devon blogs about living plastic free in this lovely part of the world. Read about it here.

Leighton Buzzard

Read this great write up of shopping for packaging free products in Leighton Buzzard. Everything from brushes to beer refills. Thanks to Vicky and her great blog

 

Tea Bag Update

Some interesting news about tea bags. Seems that they can be made from compostable materials after all. As I’m sure you know, conventional teabags contain non-biodegradable plastic but some companies are bucking this trend.

@pukkaherbs
Nope, our tea bag paper is made of a special blend of natural abaca (a type of banana) and plant cellulose fibres. And no other packaging either according to twitter users.

But sadly not completely true.  “The paper used to make the tea sachets (envelopes) does have a Polyethylene lamination. We are working on a recyclable solution as we speak”.

oh dear.

And this from Twinings Few things in life are as fresh and delicious tasting as loose leaf tea – or as simple and convenient as the teabag. The good news is, our pyramid shaped silk teabags let you enjoy the best of both worlds. We call them silky pyramids – although the bag is in fact made from a manmade, biodegradable fabric. Looking through the prism-shaped mesh, you can see the beautiful whole dried leaves of tea or colourful buds, where they’ve got just the right amount of room to swirl about in the hot water and release their flavour.

You can read more here.

Sounds good right. Hold your horses… sadly the rest of the packaging for the tea bag is plastic and very much so. A reply on twitter tells me Our pyramid envelopes are made from PET 12um / Polyethylene EVOH 60um which unfortunately is not recyclable.

One step forward!

Which is strange because Twinings do conventional teabags ( made form plastic) in compostable packaging. Or at least they used to.

Twinings Tea recently announced they will be using a compostable packaging for their Everyday tea line in the UK. The packaging is made from Innovia’s Natureflex NM material. http://www.sustainableisgood.com/blog/2009/02/twiningstea.html

Could they not combine the two to make a completely compostable product?

In the meantime it’s back to loose tea…

How Much Plastic

Myself  and others form the PLastic Is Rubbish Facebook group will be tracking our plastic consumption for a show and tell at the end of the month. This is not a competition or one upmanship but an out of interest kind of project. Feel free to join in. Don’t need to do it for a month, a week or a day will do.
Post at the end of the month, each week or whenever works for you. A list, photos, total weight however you want to record it. Post them in the plastic Is Rubbish group with the hashtag #myplastictrash.

Any other ideas on how to organise such a project greatly welcomed as I am talking off the top of my head here.
I can tell you now mine is going to be dreadful. I am in Japan and everything comes plastic packed!

Plastic Free June

Want to really cut your plastics? Then this  is a great campaign organised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCSUK).The MSCUK is a UK charity “that cares for our seas, shores and wildlife”.

The Plastic Challenge takes place every year in the U.K. in June.It is organized by the

The MSCUK “have a vision of a world where plastics don’t end up in our seas and on our beaches, where they persist and impact our marine life.”
So they challenge you to give up single use plastics for a month (June), and get sponsored whilst doing it. The money goes to support MSCUK projects which are many and very worthwhile.

You can read more about it here

Giving Away

Getting ready for our next giveaway. Plastic free loo roll, and tissues and kitchen wipes. In a big cardboard box. Wahey!
Is from a company called Greencane 
They make tissue products and will be giving away a
 Mixed Box
a cardboard box, containing

32 Rolls of Toilet Paper
(8 packs of 4 rolls)
6 Rolls of Paper Towels
(3 packs of 2 rolls)
3 Boxes Facial Tissues

The products come in individually wrapped packs.
All the packaging was paper, card and or cellophone.
The cellophane is certified  as commercially compostable.
Delivered to your door in a cardboard box from their Brighton warehouse.
There may be some plastic tape on the box but they are working on that!
Anyone trying to live a plastic free life will know what good news this is!
I have reviewed these produce – you can read my review here

So call back soon to enter the giveaway!

Buy

Can’t wait? For lots more info and to order products  visit the website

Composting Plastic At Home
FYI While most agree that some  plastics are indeed compostable, many say that they can only composted in large scale municipal schemes. I have used and composted a number of compostable plastic products 

Biodegradable, Compostable Plastics

What is biodegradable? Biodegradable products break down through a naturally occurring microorganism into simple, stable compounds which can be absorbed into the ecosystem. More about biodegrading here

What is compostable? To be classed compostable, items must biodegrade within a certain time (around the rate at which paper biodegrades), and the resulting biomass must be free of toxins, able to sustain plant life and be used as an organic fertilizer or soil additive. Read more about compostable plastics here

More Info

And you might like these other health & hygiene posts.

Packer Tracker

In Japan where thanks this super cool website I know can I drink the water. It’s the only thing I can get plastic free!

 

Plastic Pollution

Saw and photographed some dreadful instances of #plasticpollution in India. You can see all our dirty pictures here on our Planet Trash FB page. Its why we travel plasticfree. You can see our plastic free backpack, find out where we are and link to other travel related posts here

Sign Up
There are now so many plastic free petitions I am now listing them on a separate page. as you already have your pen out, head on over to the petitions page.

Don’t be silly. I know nobody uses pens, or paper petitions come to that – but if you ever do want to write something try these refillable fountain pens… 

Latest Campaigns

You can read about other campaigns and campaigners here.

Product Of The Month

With summer coming it has to be fake bake lotion – of course! No point waiting for the British summer. Tan yourself . How to make your own fake bake and does it really work?

Rest Of The Year

See the plastic free diary here.

 

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Plastic-free July

Of course every month is plastic free for me but plastic free July is a time to make a bit of extra effort, promote projects, look at my bin and join with other people all over the world who are taking this time to rethink their relationship with plastic.

What is Plastic Free July

The aim is to cut your consumption of one use plastic, for one month – July. If that sounds a bit much bear in mind that definitions of one use plastic can vary. And how much you choose to cut is up to  you – read my take.
You can  take this opportunity to tackle one item. Maybe get your self a milkman, buy (or make) some produce bags for loose veges or get a refillable water bottle.
You don’t have to do it all at once!

But whatever and how much you choose to do, he plastic you loose is more important than the plastic you use!

A bit of history

Plastic Free July started in 2011. It is an initiative of the Western Metropolitan Regional Council (WMRC) in Perth, Western Australia and was developed by clever Earth Carers staff. In 2012 Plastic Free July expanded across Perth and in 2013 it went global. They have a great website and are all round good eggs.

My Plastic Free July

I am giving up all disposable plastics and just to remind you, that includes:
tins & cans:
tetrapaks:
glass jars with plastic/ plastic-lined lids:
Plastic lined cardboard:
Teabags:
Don’t know they had plastic in them? You can read all about sneaky plastics here
Plastic packed personal care and hygiene products. I will as ever be making my own. Sadly the ingredients came plastic wrapped but it can’t be avoided.
Any other plastic goods that I can’t think of right now.

Plastic I find myself using but WILL Try not to
Booze. We will be visiting friends and I will be taking wine.
If the morning after visiting said friends painkillers are required then they will be administered. As of course will any other necessary medicines.

Keeping in Touch
Facebook groupf eatured

Join in at the Plastic Is Rubbish Support Group where people share plastic free tips.

Keep up with the project via the Twitter.
Last year we used the twitter hashtag #pfjuk for British related posts. Mainly because it gets very dispiriting to hear of a fantastic bulk food store only to find it is based in Sydney.

 U.K. Participants

Who is we? Every year UK based bloggers have joined in.
It’s really important to link up with U.K. based plastivists who will be sharing throughout the month. While some solutions like solid shampoo from Lush can be accessed UK wide,  many are local.

You can find a list of blogger here. If you are tweeting or writing this year add your details in the comment box.

Follow My Progress

2017  This year progress will be recorded here 

Past Years

I am proof that you can do this anywhere no matter the constraints
2014 I did it while travelling  in a van. Here is how I did.
2015 I did it with a backpack  check out Plastic free Mongolia
2016  here

More Resources & Info

Loads of plastic free products here… A to Z of plastic free products

And see all our past plastic free July posts here

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Clothing Manifesto

I have a list of sustainable criteria when choosing what clothes to buy or make. They have to meet as many of the following as possible

Fabric is mostly
made from natural fibres
ideally organic
Fair-trade or U.K. made
Clothes can be gifted/secondhand but only in limited amounts
Have to be fairly made / homemade i.e. made by adults who are paid a living wage or me.
From shops /businesseswith sustainable environmental policies
Or local shops & suppliers
Made using plastic free thread
Fastened with plastic free fixings
Bought in fair and sustainable amounts.
unhung & unpackaged

Natural Versus Synthetic Fibres

My clothes are mostly made from natural fibres because on consideration they are the greenest, biodegradable option. If you need it, there is a quick  intro to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres here.

Problems with Synthetic Fibres
Like most other plastics many synthetic fibre do not biodegrade so are difficult to depose of.
Synthetic fabrics  shed plastic microfibres when washed which are being consumed by plankton.
They cannot be dyed.
And more reasons why I prefer natural fabrics over the others here.

I still wear some synthetic fibres but only for specialist clothing that doesn’t need washing often. Tags plastic we use, clothes.

 

Buying Ready Made

Buying ready-made, plastic free clothes is a real chore. While I might choose to buy cotton that does not mean the clothes I buy  will be entirely natural fibres. Even if it says 100% cotton, you will often find that the washing instructions are printed on a synthetic fabric, the thread used to sew may be polyester, that buttons zips and other fixings and finishings will almost certainly contain synthetics.

Plastic Free Packaging
And even if I can get plastic free clothing there is the packaging and presentation to consider
While you may see clothes in shops unpacked, many fabric items come to the shop plastic packed for protection. Even clothes hanging unpacked on hangers will most probably have arrived plastic packed and then been unpacked .

Hangers
And you will of course see clothes hanging on hangers. I used to think that when the clothes arrived at the shop they were hung on hangers that would, if I refused them, be re-used to hang more clothes. This is not the case. Many clothes now come already hung hangers.  If I refuse a hanger chances are it will not be reused but may thrown away, possibly recycled.

Recycled Plastic Packaging
Though the bags and hangers can probably be recycled I have no way of knowing if they will be. Even if they are, recycling is only a more responsible form of waste disposal. It still comes with an environmental cost. Just because plastic can be recycled is no reason to use it to create everlasting trash and in such ludicrous amounts.

 

Price Tags & Labels
Even if you manage to source a packaging free item there will be size label, stickers, price tags and irritating plastic ties to contend with. Even cardboard labels will most likely be plasticized.

Buying On Line
While you might avoid the hangers and price tags by buying online there is onward packaging to contend with. In my experience many companies send stuff out in plastic and refuse to otherwise stating that they need the plastic is needed to protect the product. Even the greener companies do this.

Buying Second Hand

One way to cut the packaging, hangers and price tags is to buy second hand. It is also in many ways a greener option than buying new but I don’t like it.

I have no problem with buying or better still being gifted second hand clothes but there are a number of issues to be considered. For me the most important are you cannot use your money to influence how the clothes were made and by whom. Buying second-hand clothes made in sweat shops out of unsustainable fabrics are not, to my mind, guilt free.

Yes it is greener but the plastic packaging rubbish has still been created, fair-trade, organic and natural fibres may not be available and they still use those irritating plastic tags to attach their own labels. But most importantly I feel that charity shops take some of the guilt out of excessive consumption. People feel good about giving clothes to charity it helps raise money for good causes, helps people who cannot afford to buy new and so on. It also means that the donor can go out and buy more clothes. It does nothing to reduce the unsustainable levels of clothing consumption. In fact too many clothes are donated to charities and they simply cannot sell them all in the host countries. Many of the clothes donated to charity shops are sold to second hand dealers. You give to Oxfam, (and lots of other charities), they sell it to textile businesses (not charities) who make a profit from selling it in developing countries. The second hand clothes trade  is credited with hindering the development of sustainable industries in developing countries. You can read more here.

Sustainable Clothing

I only feel comfortable buying sustainable clothes. I mean clothes made from cloth woven from fair-trade, ideally organically-grown, natural fibres, by people paid a proper wage. The articles then need to be sewn up in safe and healthy environments by adults who can live off what they earn. Problem is I can’t afford those kinds of clothes on what I earn.

So I shop at M&S. one of the more sustainable high street stores and pretty good value. They also do reasonably good quality cotton basics. They sell a lot of stuff unhung and they actually reuse their plastic hangers. But….. much as I like M&S I have to admit that they can be a little… erm…. stodgy? And some of the above plastic related issues still apply,

Making Your Own Plasticfree Sustainable Clothes

Seems to me the only way to get completely compostable clothes that are, sustainable, affordable and plastic-free as possible is to make them yourself. So I dragged out my sewing machine and started stitching my own sustainable duds in sustainable amounts.

What’s A Sustainable Amounts Of Clothes

Of course one mans over consumption is another’s nothing to wear so how to decide what is sustainable?

This is how the equation works for me. We cannot exceed current levels of production. We cannot expect others to want less than we have. Therefore we can only consume our global share

Whats a global share?11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres.  all You can check my figures here.

See my global share here…

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Vegware Fast Food Packaging

A while ago I got sent some Vegware stuff to review. Vegware make disposable compostable packaging from PLA plastic for the fast food industry. Hooray for them.
If you don’t know what PLA starch polymer is, read this
Basically it is a compostable plastic that comes in many different forms as you will see and can be used as a water proof lining for paper cups.

…. but I am not in fast food. So what would I be using them for? For starters…

PLA POTS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, I take my own PLA compostable plastic deli pots to the supermarket when I need olives and humus and the like. PLA plastic looks and acts just like plastic but is made from corn starch rather than oil. Not only is this a renewable resource, it is also compostable  and, as Vegware say,”This annually-renewable eco-material has a carbon footprint 78% lower in manufacture than oil-based PET plastic, and these carbon savings are reflected in our Eco Audits.”

I can confirm that Vegware PLA pots are just as good. for shopping. They sent me a great range of shapes and sizes so I was able to expand my experience – even venturing into the ready-made salad bar at Morrisons. I have never done that as I have never had a PLA pot big enough!

The only thing I cannot find a use for is the flat black trays but that is probably because I don’t sell salami.

Because you cannot wash PLA in really hot water,(it melts), I use a new PLA pot every time I go shopping. However I reuse the old ones to freeze food I know I am going to heat up hot. The Vegware rectangular dishes are great for storing decent size portions in the freezer.

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The PLA pots end up in my compost bin. Many folk say that you can only compost PLA in industrial composting facilities. I manage just fine with my back yard bin!

But if for some reason you cannot compost PLA pots yourself, Vegware do a great alternative – paper / PLA lined pots. These are not nearly as long-lasting and can only be used once in the freezer . Basically they  fall apart much more quickly.

I cannot see anyone having a problem with composting these.

Paper/PLA lined cups and pots

I also got sent a whole load of paper tubs and cups with compostable, plastic liners with compostable sippy lids and some with built-in heat shields so you don’t burn your hands. If you have a takeaway service these would be great. Also good for parties,

I don’t entertain like that but I do make lots of home-made beauty products. These are great for samples and super useful for presents.

You know how it is you forgot Valentines day again but lucky you have a cupboard full of Shea Butter, essential oils and cocoa.

In no time at all you have whipped up a sensuous chocolate body mousse from your 91/2 weeks range. Grab a vegware paper pot and a felt tip and you have a personalised gift. For sure the drawings could have been better but I only had a Sharpy and a highlighter pen. Needs must….

You can see more on chocolate love mousse soon

 Bags, sheets and wrappings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also got sent a load of bags and wrappings. I am a big fan of taking my own bags shopping. It is the only way you can really shop plastic free. However,  I was so impressed with the gift potential of Vegware products, I have used the bags for other things. The last few days has seen me experimenting with wrapping and passing on all manner of things to surprised recipients.

For instance I bought a block of solid shampoo. It works pretty well but tends to be a bit sweaty. If you cut it and  leave it overnight it oozes and sticks so you cannot wrap it in normal paper. Hurrah for Vegware, shiny, plasticky see through bags.The brown greaseproof paper (?) is pretty good too.

My moisturising rose and lavender salt scrub is oily and moist but can be packed in the paper and PLA bag and safely left.

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Finally that is a crystal rock deodorant in the see through bag – just because I can!

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The brown Kraft carrier bags are just cute and make super quick wrapping / sweet gift bags. Again, the artistically inclined could personalise these.

More ideas to follow but if you feel inspired, you can check out the Vegware range here  range of fantastic products here….

 

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Compostable Plastic Products

Compostable plastics come in various forms and are made in different ways. You can read all about compostable plastics here

Perhaps the most common are cellophane and PLA plastic. I would say (with absolutely no verifiable facts to back this up) that old school cellophane is now less popular than the new kid on the block, the starch derived  Poly Lactic Acid (PLA). Read about PLA in detail here

I’m sure that there will be others in the future.

Composting Plastic 

While most agree that some  plastics are indeed biodegradable and compostable, many say that they can only composted in large scale municipal schemes. As we don’t have many large scale municipal schemes this they say is a pointless advantage.I say the days of large scale municipal schemes is fast approaching as governments aim to divert biodegradable rubbish from landfill sites.

But  I have been composting my PLA plastic for years. Including  (including Biobags , Deli pots  and disposable Cutlery).
I have occasionally composted cellulose.
Both take longer than other products and  sometimes I have found shreds of it in my compost but I dig it into the soil where it quickly disappears.

What is biodegradable? Biodegradable products break down through a naturally occurring microorganism into simple, stable compounds which can be absorbed into the ecosystem. More about biodegrading here

What is compostable? To be classed compostable, items must biodegrade within a certain time (around the rate at which paper biodegrades), and the resulting biomass must be free of toxins, able to sustain plant life and be used as an organic fertilizer or soil additive. For a man-made product to be sold as compostable, it has to meet certain standards. One such is the European Norm EN13432. You can find out more here.

Read more about compostable plastics here

We have used and composted the following products.


PLA Compostable Plastic Bags

These disposable, water-resistant bags are great for
fish and meat
Frozen foodstuffs and freezer bags.

Deli pots PLA

Waterproof plastic pots with lids are great for all manner of deli delights including
Cream cheese
Olives
Deli counter lovelies
They can also be used to storefood in the freezer.

Disposable Cutlery  for  our big party PLA

We haven’t used these but sourced them FYI

Straws PLA
Dog poo bags PLA


The remains of my cellulose sponge cloths and the PLA wrapper they came in.

Toilet Rolls

Greencane deliver toilet rolls are wrapped in cellophane, a compostable plastic. Which I compost. Find out more about Greencaneproducts here.

Companies using compostable plastic.

Snact

Our new innovative packaging, developed by Israeli start-up TIPA, is just as durable and impermeable as ordinary plastic – but it biologically decomposes within just 180 days and becomes a fertiliser for soil, behaving similarly to an orange peel. Read more here.

Vegware
A while ago I got sent some Vegware stuff to review. Vegware make disposable, compostable packaging for the fast-food industry. Hooray for them …. but I am not in fast food. So what would I be using them for? For starters…

Eco For Life 
If you must drink bottled water this might interest you; water packaged in PLA compostable plastic bottles

More

Remember, not all bio- plastics can be composted and some are not as green as they sound

Find out more about composting here

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Plastic Trash By Country

Statistics can be wobbly and there will be discrepancies between reports but even bearing that in mind it is obvious we are making a great deal of plastic rubbish most of which we are not recycling. And our use of plastic is increasing every year.

Since the 1950s, one billion tons of plastic have been discarded.

During the first year, sales of Coca-Cola averaged nine drinks a day, adding up to total sales for that year of $50. Today, products of The Coca-Cola Company are consumed at the rate of more than 1.8 billion drinks per day.FAQs: The Coca-Cola Company

U.K.

Each UK household produces over 1 tonne of rubbish annually, amounting to about 31 million tonnes for the UK each year.

How much of the is plastic? And how much is recycled?

In October 2006 when I started my plastic boycott I saved all my plastic for a week. The amounts of waste we, a fairly green couple, produced was worrying.

British consumers got through nine billion pints of milk last year. 90% of that milk was bought in a plastic container.

2015 and Recycle now states the average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles a year but only recycles 270 of them – meaning nearly half (44%) are NOT put in the recycling.

Wrap state

Around 40% of plastic is used in packaging and the UK generates around 2.4 million tonnes per year of packaging waste. Of this, around 1.7 million tonnes is from households.

In the UK we currently recycle around 50% of plastic bottles and just 12-15% of mixed plastics, so there is still progress to be made.
The Guardian writes Of the 1.5m tonnes of recyclable plastic waste used by consumers in Britain in 2015 only 500,000 tonnes was recycled, according to the figures compiled by Co-op from the Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection survey. 

Recycle More  estimate that nearly 1.2 million tonnes of plastics packaging are consumed by households in the UK (source:recoup)
From this 1.2 million tonnes, it is reported that 440,401 tonnes is collected for recycling – an overall 37% recycling rate (source:recoup)

The Recycling Guide states that most families throw away about 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled.

  • They also claim that
  • The use of plastic in Western Europe is growing about 4% each year.
  • Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose.

2011 Government Statistics for the UK – rather different story – but still not good.

Plastic 2,515,809 Total packaging waste arising (tonnes) 609,910 Total recovered/recyled (tonnes) 22.5 EU Target (%) 24.2 Recovery/recycling rate (%)

Recoup

RECycling Of Used Plastics Limited (RECOUP) is a registered charity and not-for-profit member based organisation. RECOUP works in collaboration with all stakeholders to promote, develop, stimulate and increase the levels of plastics recycling within the UK.

Their latest survey can be downloaded here http://www.recoup.org/p/229/uk-household-plastics-collection-survey-2016

Some Solutions

Find plastic free products here

World

See what everyone else is throwing away. This is only the briefest of outlines to illustrate the scale of the problem. It doesn’t matter who throws more but that we all get on cleaning our own back yards.


Planet Trash – A page of images showing  plastic pollution the world over plus one of the biggest list of anti plastic groups on Facebook.
You can find a full list of places featured here.

Europe

Plastics consumption is growing about 4% every year in western Europe.

We produce and use 20 times more plastic today than we did 50 years ago!

America

In 2010, Americans created  31 million tons of plastic waste. It consisted of

  • 14 million tons of containers and packaging,
  • 11 million tons as durable goods, such as appliances,
  • 7 million tons as non-durable goods, for example plates and cups.

(ermmm that makes 32million tons?…)

Only 8 percent of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling.

  • Only 12% of bags, sacks, and wraps were recycled

These figures are from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency who go on to note

“The recycling rate for different types of plastic varies greatly, resulting in an overall plastics recycling rate of only 8 percent, or 2.4 million tons in 2010. However, the recycling rate for some plastics is much higher, for example in 2010, 28 percent of HDPE bottles and 29 percent of PET bottles and jars were recycled”.

According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Americans bought a total of 31.2 billion liters of water in 2006, Most of this water was sold in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, requiring nearly 900,000 tons of the plastic and more than 106 billion megajoules of energy.

California

Californias governing body have this to say “In the United States, consumers use 100 billion plastic bags annually, but fewer than 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled, which means they eventually end up in landfills, open spaces, or waterways.

  • Californians use an estimated 12 billion plastic bags annually. That’s almost 400 bags per second.
  • In California, approximately 247 million pounds—that’s 24 billion bags!—end up in landfills every year.
  • California spends approximately $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags. Public agencies in California spend more than $300 million annually for litter abatement.”

25 MILLION???? ON BAGS???

 13 billion plastic carrier bags are used in the UK each year. Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year.

People

This fantastic collection of photos shows what people eat in a week the world over. Humbling? yes…but also check out the packaging! Way to go Japan!

Problems

The problem with plastic waste,  is that plastic doesn’t  biodegrade. There are no natural processes in place that can absorb plastic back into the biological cycle. Drop it and leave it, as  with an apple core say, and rather than rot away, it stays there…for decades, maybe centuries, possibly for ever.

So it has to be specially disposed of. It has to be collected up and specially treated. Either burnt or buried or, in very small amounts, recycled.

And we are using this product to make one use throwaway items.

The result? Everlasting litter! That’s just dumb.

Yet simply by saying no to unneccessary plastic, you can cut your pile of trash almost completely.

More

Find other rubbish statistics here

Cut Your Trash

 

Find plastic free products and lifestyle hacks here

Plastic Is Rubbish–  group, join, share, rant, post. A resource for plastic less living. As the interest in zero waste and plastic free living grows we need a space to pool resources  – especially in the U.K. where we don’t have bulk stores and finding unpackaged produce is so much harder. I hope that people will use it to share plastic free info and lifestyle hacks. Join us here.

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Yogurt & Yogurt makers

Yogurt comes in plastic pots  and I of course refuse to use one use disposables. So the pots have to go,but who can live without yogurt? Not us, so I had to learn how to make my own.

I had heard of how you could make it in a flask but I just ended up with curds and whey and an evil-smelling flask. Then Husband remembered how they used to make it back in the village  of his birth. He ended up with curds and whey and evil-smelling blankets.

So I bought me an Easy Yo Yogurt maker – – really easy – just mix the contents of the sachet with water – yes that’s right – the plastic foil sachet that came in the plastic packed box. Didnt think it through. Not best pleased – it did make very good yogurt though. If only they sold the mix in a jar – or cardboard box. Ho hum back to the drawing board.

And maybe it might be worth doing some in depth research:

So What Is Yogurt

Milk like everything else is full of bacteria. Even pasteurised milk as pasteurisation only kills a certain percentage of bacteria in milk. After a time these bacteria start to multiply. Some bacteria cause milk to go bad, others can turn it to yoghurt. Depending on which gains the upper hand, the end result can be evil smelling gunk or a tasty snack.

The main (starter) cultures or bacteria needed to turn milk into yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

These are used to ferment the lactose (milk sugar) in milk. This results in lactic acid which decreases the pH, and breaks down the cell membranes so the proteins clump together and form the soft gel or as we know it, yoghurt.
Yoghurt is actually a very soft cheese.

If the yoghurt making bacteria are dominant they multiply and consume the food supply (milk sugars) starving out other bacteria, including the type that makes milk go off

Traditional yogurt has a high acid content, which many bacteria cannot survive in which is another reason yogurt stays fresh longer than milk.

Making Yogurt

The yoghurt making process is one of favouring certain bacterias over the others. This is done by killing off existing bacteria, introducing yogurt making bacteria, the starter culture, then ensuring that conditions suit the growth of that bacteria.

You will need…

milk 1 liter
starter culture (bacteria) 3 tablespoons of live yogurt or a powdered starter – see below for more details
a way to heat the milk
a food thermometer
A container for your yoghurt.
a way to keep the yogurt at a warm and constant temperature.

Chose your Milk
To make yoghurt you need milk proteins and milk sugars – milk in other words. But which milk?
I use Pasteurized milk from the milk man. Check out this list of people who deliver milk in glass bottles.
Ultra-pasteurized is said to be too sterile(I don’t know why that matters if you are introducing the culture), raw milk I don’t work with.
The milk can be whole or reduced-fat.
Or a mixture of the two.
Adding dry milk powder will increase the amount of whey protein and create a richer textured yogurt. See where you can buy loose powdered milk here.
Cream apparently doesn’t work at all.

Pasteurize the Milk
The milk mixture needs to be heated to 185°F (85°C) for 30 minutes or at 203°F (95°C) for 10 minutes. Which means you warm the milk to just below boiling on the stove, maintain the temperature keeping an eye on it all the while.
Some recipes say for half an hour though many say less time is needed.
This serves 2 functions:
First it breaks down the milk proteins resulting in a more stable yoghurt
Secondly it kills off any unwanted bacteria already present in the milk.
N.B. Even Pasteurization of milk only kills a certain percentage of bacteria in milk.

Cool Milk
Put the milk into your containers.
Allow the milk is cool to 108°F (42°C) the ideal growth temperature for the yoghurt making bacteria, (starter culture).

Add bacteria
Now add your Starter Culture. This usually a dollop of live yogurt though you can buy starter culture in other forms. more on this below.

Mix well

Allow To Ferment
The mixture now has be kept at 108°F (42°C) until a pH 4.5 is reached allowing fermentation to take place. Fermentation results in the soft gel known as yogurt. This process can take several hours. Too hot or too cold and your bacteria won’t work.
You have to find a reliable way to keep your mixture warm and at a stable temperature.

Ways to keep warm
an electric yogurt maker,
an insulated container or flask
an oven with just the light
a food dehydrator
Lots of blankets

To check the yogurt is ready, try tilting the pot. If it moves as one you have made yogurt.Yay. If it separates into liquid and solids the bacteria has run out of food.

The longer you let your yoghurt ferment the more acid it becomes and the more tart the taste.

Cool
To stop the fermentation process cool the mixture to 7°C.

Starter Cultures

The yogurt starter can be made from live yogurt bought from a shop. make sure it says “live cultures.
You can  use your own homemade live yogurt as a starter culture.
You can buy starter cultures as a powder. These are from Amazon. Obviously the packaging contains some plastic but so does a pot of yogurt.

Trouble Shooting

Theoretically you should be able to use your own home made live yoghurt to make more yoghurt indefinitely However we find that after a while our home made live yoghurt seems to loose its strength and we cannot make more using this batch. So every few weeks we need to buy a new container of yogurt for a fresh culture.

This is because the bacteria is weak, possibly dead

One solution is the freeze a fresh batch as soon as the yogurt is made. This keeps your bacteria feisty.

Keeping it warm. If you dont have a constant heat source,  yogurt making can be tricky. I tried putting it in the oven and making it in a flask but the results were too variable. finally got me an electric yogurt maker from Lakeland – mail order. The yogurt is made in a plastic container -BPA free for those of you worried about leaching chemicals. It works really well. So although it is a plastic product I feel it is worth it as it cuts our overall plastic consumption. It does make good yogurt and is very easy to use. If you are busy I would recommend getting one of these.

Update

Trying Homemade Again Since then VB has re-learnt his yogurt making skills and now makes it in a pan which he leaves wrapped in a blanket overnight. Completely plastic free.

Reusing the Easy Yo And if you check the comments you will find out how to make yogurt using hot water and how to use the Easy Yo yogurt maker without purchasing more sachets.

More

Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the only 2 cultures required by law  to be present in live yogurt.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus subsp. casei, and Bifido-bacteria are probiotic cultures. These, it is claimed, help improve  lactose digestion, gastrointestinal function, and stimulate the immune system.

There are yogurts that culture at room temperature, which is even easier!

Find other plasticfree recipes here.

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How to buy food plastic free

If you want to  shop plastic-free then you need to take your own packaging. Seems like a lot of bother? Well, here are  some reasons why you might wish to consider this option:
You don’t like that hormone inhibitors and toxic chemicals can leach from plastic packaging into your food,
You hate plastic pollution,

You love being zero waste

You find a place that sells your required product unwrapped. This can be  anywhere from your local butcher to the cheese counter at Morrisons.
You take your own packaging and ask them use that. Bit embarrassing at first but stick with it – I do it everywhere.

Reusables 

PRODUCE BAG
These are reusable bags that can be used instead of the plastic bags supplied by shops. Use them for veges, and anything else loose and dry,
I use a cotton or net produce bags.
Find out more about
 synthetic mesh bags
organic cotton produce bags

TUBS 

For meat, fish and other stuff I try to use a reusable plastic tub whenever can.Which means I take my own tub to the butchers and ask them to use that. I use a plastic tub because it is water proof, lightweight, I have had it for ages and there is lots of wear in it yet.

If you are worried about chemical leaching you might not want to use plastic tubs. As you know if you wash plastic at hot enough temperatures to clean the container properly, it is more likely to leach chemicals. And that plastic leaches more chemicals as it ages.

If this worries you can get metal or glass dishes. Glass is heavy so I would recommend metal dishes.

And some times, it doesn’t matter what I take, I get refusals. Supermarkets especially are not keen on this and will argue long and hard. Even some local butchers will refuse.,  in which case I use…..

Disposables

The following products are certified compostable and I compost them at home in my bin once I have done with them. They can also be safely burnt.

For meat and fish I use bio plastic  (corn starch bags – made from vegetables) 

For cheese and such like its old school paper bags.

At the deli counter  where I get humus, pate and the rest, I use these compostable PLA pots.

More

Though I recommend finding reuses for your disposable packaging, (for example using the bio bags to line your compost bin),they are of course disposable. This  might not sound like the greenest option but it is still a whole load better than plastic.

Compostable?

What is compostable? To be classed compostable, items must biodegrade within a certain time (around the rate at which paper biodegrades), and the resulting biomass must be free of toxins, able to sustain plant life and be used as an organic fertilizer or soil additive. For a man-made product to be sold as compostable, it has to meet certain standards. One such is the European Norm EN13432. You can find out more here.

Taking it home 

Carry your shopping home in  a reusable  carrier bag – natch!

My bags of choice are those old granny favourites, string bags.

I also have some tiny fold up carrier bags which come in very handy.

More

Though I recommend finding reuses for your disposable packaging, (for example using the bio bags to line your compost bin),they are of course disposable. This  might not sound like the greenest option but it is still a whole load better than plastic.

I compost all this packaging in my own compost bin. Yes even the cornstarch plastic bags and pots.

Loose Food A to Z

Find out if a shop near you sells bulk food loose. This is stuff that that normally comes plastic packaged ie rice, pasta and salt. And yes these shops do exist in the U.K. There’s just not many of them. Heres a list of towns with shops selling loose food,  organised alphabetically.

Buy Packaging

Being committed to local shopping, I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source. If you can’t buy local please do check the links above to the suppliers and buy direct from them and support their online businesses.

If you can’t do that then I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know…

flip & tumble Reusable Produce Bags- 5-PackEco-Bags Products, Produce & Bulk Bags, 3 BagsEco Bags String Tote Bag Long Handle Cotton Assorted Earthtones, ctWhite Reusable Muslin Bags with Draw String for Spice, Herbs, Tea, Mulled Wine, Bouquet Garni Infuser Sieve - 3" x 3.5" (10 pcs)5 Litre x 180 bags Compostable Bags - Biobag Kitchen Food Waste Caddy Liners 5 Litre - EN 13432 - Biobags 5L Bin Bags with Composting Guide6 Litre x 150 bags allBIO 6 Litre 100% Biodegradable & Compostable Kitchen Caddy Liners25ml Clear Biodegradable PLA Pots with Lids x 50 (Food/Craft/Storage Containers)

Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before suggesting them.  Heres why I went ahead….. No we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.

If you buy a product via this link we do get an affiliation fee for this. This is not why we do it.

 

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Water steriliser – SteriPEN

Its easy to give up bottled water in England but what of when you are abroad? in countries where the water is not so reliable? India for example.

I have travelled a lot in India and over the years have seen plastic pollution rise to horrific levels. A lot of that plastic rubbish is empty drinking water bottles many of them discarded by tourists. I refuse to drink bottled water because I don’t want to add to the plastic pollution.

But you might also want to consider this;  some of the drinking water bottles in India, claiming to contain purified water have been refilled with tap water. There are recurring reports about this and  it seems to be a fairly common scam. Empty water bottles are collected, refilled with tap water (if you are lucky), and the cap glued back on. To quote from but one source, “You cannot rely on the bottled water available in public places in India, because of the rampant refilling of used bottled water bottles by the racketeers in India.”

So what to do? The steri pen is my solution to that particular problem. Stick the sticky bit in a liter of water – switch on and 90 seconds later the water is safe to drink. Works by UV light.UV light destroys virtually all viruses, bacteria and protozoa. It weighs next to nothing and is tiny.

It kills

Viruses

A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms.

  • Hepatitis

Bacteria

Bacteria are microscopic living organisms, usually one-celled, that can be found everywhere.

  • Campylobacter
  • Cholera –
  • Escherichia coli –E coli
  • Legionella –
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella

Protozoa

Protozoan parasites live in the cells and tissues of other living creatures. Protozoans can cause problems, from targeting the central nervous system to diarrhea.

  • Cryptosporidium
  • Giardia

It Does Not Filter Water

This is not a filtration system. It does not remove  other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, chlorine or physical dirt. You have to find clear water. I usually use it on tap water or fresh water.

Effective?

I have used it the world over to sterilise tap water and river water.  I had no tummy troubles at all – which was rather a shame as I was depending on a bout of Delhi Belly to help with my weight loss programme.

Charging It Solar, Battery or USB?

You can choose from solar, battery operated or USB rechargeable Steripens. I have tried them all. The solar charger was way to slow and I quickly had to find an alternative. However that was some time ago and things might have improved. The battery powered was the only option available to me when I bought my first PEN. The batteries (CR123) can sometimes be hard to find abroad though of course it very much depends on where you are. On the plus side the batteries do last a long time ( longer than a charge), but they do present disposal problems and it is not always possible to find a safe place to bin them.

This time I went for the rechargeable Freedom PEN which can be charged via a USB port. I am pleased with it. It holds the charge for days though that obviously depends on how much water you sterilise.

Other Benefits

On a long trip it soon pays for itself and then goes on to save you a considerable sum

You never run out of water. You may not be able to buy water or boil it. That’s the time you are glad you got a SteriPEN.

It doesn’t change the taste of the water – which is not always a plus point!

More

You will need a water bottle with a wide neck to accommodate the width of the PEN as it needs to be submerged in water.

It will do 1 or 1/2 a litre of water at a time. Get a bottle that is one or the other. We found half a litre of water each was as much as we needed to carry.  With a PEN we can always sterilise more when needed.

For more information visit the steriPEN site and check out great reviews of the product here and here.

Find out all about refill points, filters and other water related information here.

Buy

You can buy a SteriPEN in the UK  at shops, on line and of course Amazon.

Travel Plasticfree

Here’s the rest of our plastic free travel stuff and useful tips

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U.K. Refuseniks & Bloggers

U.K. based plastic free refuseniks. Very useful blogs, passionate people and great resources.

In the UK, living plastic free is a very ad hoc kind of process. While other countries may have bulk buy chain stores where you buy your basic staples loose, in the UK this is not the case. Instead we have to scurry around sourcing some plastic free rice from Khadims and tracking down  a local bakers, some of us might be lucky enough to still have a market and maybe a washing up liquid refill site but it is by no means guaranteed. Generally speaking, recommendations for a plastic free lifestyle in the U.K. tend to be site specific. While I might have sourced olive oil refills in Todmorden that’s no use to folks in Lincoln.
So the more people prepared to write about and share their experiences of living #plasticfree in their own town the better. The plastic free U.K. directory was created to promote this information.
It’s easy to submit a piece. Write about your plastic free finds in a post and I will publish your entry in the directory, credited (of course), with whatever links you choose to share.
If you blog, you can  write an  introduction to your website. Job done.

Bristol & Plastic A Lot Less

Plastivist of the month is Michelle Cassar...... I started Being ...
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County Durham Helen McGonigal

Helen McGonigal is a happily married, mum of three from ...
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Croyden – plastic free Kake

I'm taking the Plastic-Free July challenge of cutting out single-use ...
Read More

Devon & Sarah

My name is Sarah, I live in Devon, and I ...
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Huddersfield Plastic Is Rubbish

We boycott plastic and source biodegradable alternatives. To help others ...
Read More

Modbury – The Plastic Bag Free Town.

Thanks to the efforts of Rebecca Hosking and the local ...
Read More

Plastic free July Bloggers U.K.

Each year a good number of British bloggers sign up for ...
Read More

Scotland – Westy Writes

I’m a Scottish blogger who is about to undertake the ...
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Scotland Our Green Journey Blog

Hi, my name is Charlotte Todd It is my mission ...
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Wales Plastic Free Lent

'When did our lives become so plastic? Plastic chairs, plastic cups, ...
Read More

Others that I know Of

Allotment Recipes.

Have  a look at this very good blog based in the Leighton buzzard area www.allotmentrecipes.wordpress.com

Rosies Ecoblog U.K.

“The second school of thought is not just Zero-waste to landfill, but Zero waste at all.” Well said and this means of course going plastic-trash free. Follow her on her year with out plastic, with kids! Yikes!

More?

If you know of any that should be on the list please add the details in the comments section. Or submit an entry for the directory.

Worldwide

Find links to other bloggers in other countries here.

Campaigns, Projects & Social Media

There are more links to campaigners, blogger and anti-plastic projects here

The Plastic-free U.K. Directory

Showcasies U.K. based  business, people and organisations that are plastic aware, in their own words….
Sadly I don’t have time to cover all the great people and businesses out there… and I always feel a little shy about write ups. Suppose I miss the point. So I ask people to contribute their own posts. The only provisos are that you have to be U.K. based and of course it has to have a rubbish element. Not necessarily anti-plastic but certainly plastic problem aware.

About Plastic Free UK

I am compiling a directory of UK-based groups, organisations businesses and individuals who are responding to the problems presented by ...
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Do you have a project….

Welcome to the  directory of UK-based plastic aware projects, refuseniks, trash slashers, businesses and the rest. The DIRECTORY is to promote ...
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Find more #plasticfree projects listed in the Plastic Free U.K. Directory homepage
Or by category….

By category

Business & Social Enterprises

U.K. based enterprises that provide plastic free/reduced products and services. These people state plastic/packaging reduction as part of their business ethos. Find them here.

Arts & Education

Educating, entertaining and exhibiting for a plastic free world!

Charities & Non Profits

Do what? The Plastic Challenge takes place every year in the U.K. in June. It is organised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCSUK). The MSCUK is a UK charity "that cares for our seas, shores and wildlife". The Challenge The MSCUK are deeply concerned about the amount of plastic polluting the sea and trashing the beaches. And understandably so. Since the ocean ...
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Global Ocean is a marine conservation charity that teaches children about the importance of a healthy ocean to their survival on a blue planet and engages them to responsibly look after our seas. Marine Conservation Charity (or Non Profit Organisation) Plastic Challenge:Our biggest challenge is the make the public aware. If we could change just one behavior, such as using a ...
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see what AWARE are up to "Take on the ocean's silent killer. Make a stand. Join Debris Month of Action this September "Rubbish. It is ugly, it costs local communities and economies and destroys wildlife. Every year tens of thousands of marine creatures, mammals and birds die because of the litter we drop or fishing nets that are abandoned or lost at ...
Read More

 

 

 

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Devon & Sarah

My name is Sarah, I live in Devon, and I write about my adventures towards a more environmentally friendly life and how I combine this with parenting (trying to be gentle and respectful to both the planet and my children). At the start of 2017 I decided to try to achieve zero-waste to landfill. See how I am getting on at www.facebook.com/rhubarbandrunnerbeans

A bit more…

This post was written by the contributor. It is a PfU.K. Directory submission.

And the Pf U.K. Directory is…?

…a directory of UK-based groups, organisations businesses and individuals who are responding to the problems presented by the misuse of plastic. That does not mean  anti-plastic necessarily but certainly plastic-problem aware.

The DIRECTORY is to promote their fantastic work. Read more here…

Got a project?
It is very easy to get a project featured. Each contributor submits a short synopsis of their project, focussing on the plastic aware element and I post it. You can read the submission guidelines here.

U.K. Plastic Free Living
Find out if a shop near you sells bulk food loose or if there’s a zero waste blogger in your town. Heres a list of plastic free places listed alphabetically..