To celebrate the launch of Refill Merton - your local chapter of the national award-winning Refill scheme by City to Sea, we are proud to share some of the stories of our Community Champions who are taking action to beat plastic pollution in their own lives and inspiring others to join them.
Tackling waste and overconsumption is a primary pillar of action at Sustainable Merton. Through our #PlasticFreeMerton campaign, we aim to inspire local people to take action and are excited to make Refill a part of the solution. There are so many ways through which you can reduce plastic in your day-to-day activities. We suggest these BIG 5 actions as a place to start:
Download the Refill App to locate water refill stations on-the-go
Replace disposable coffee cups with a reusable alternative
Travel with your reusable water bottle
Remember your reusable shopping bag
Say no to plastic straws and carry your own reusable one (great for cocktails and iced lattes)
Carry reusable cutlery or a handy spork.
"I personally use a reusable coffee cup provided by work for the occasional shop brought coffee and use a reusable water bottle at work throughout the day do most people and at the gym. I also have a reusable loose fruit/veg net bag. I find supermarkets do not always help on the war on plastic as on the one hand they provide reusable net bags and then in the same aisle a bunch of bananas will be wrapped in plastic!"
"My very first step was to buy soap bars instead of shower gel and then I extended this to all the other bathroom items: shampoo bar (most difficult swap, until find the right one!), face cleansing bar, deodorant bar. Then a reusable coffee cup and a water bottle for when you’re on the go. Then it was the kitchen’s turn: I got glass milk bottles from the milk man (although now I gave up milk altogether!) and started using again my old bread maker. Cleaning products: make my own with water and vinegar. I decided to finish everything I own or give it away to reduce waste.
Once you start it gets easier and you see opportunities to reduce plastic waste everywhere- one year down the line my two week recycling bin is nearly empty!"
I am in general trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible even though it can be overwhelming and feel like a drop in the proverbial ocean. There are some things I have been doing for years and other things that I have set myself as resolutions or goals for 2020.
One of the easiest things that I have done to reduce my plastic consumption on a day to day basis is to take a packed lunch to work. I have a reusable box, some beeswax wraps instead of cling film for my sandwiches, a metal bottle for my water, and a keep cup for my coffee, I put it all in my tote each day and off I go. Obviously it doesn't stop there as food is so over packaged, so I have recently switched to buying a large pot of yogurt to keep in the fridge at work instead of little ones each day, this isn't ideal but I am yet to find plastic free yogurt packaging so it's a bit better I suppose.
My husband and I have made a small vegetable patch in our garden and each year grow salads and vegetables which is also a really rewarding way to cut down on plastic packaging and make the aforementioned weekday sandwiches even better. I can't wait for the weather to get better so we can get out and plant for the year ahead!
In 2020 I aim to make my bathroom a plastic free zone. I have already switched to refillable non plastic containers on some products i.e. cleanser and moisturiser, but this year I am not going to buy any make up in plastic containers. I have seen a few brands popping up online with glass, metal or paper packing for a variety of products including foundation and mascara so I will be switching to those next time I run out of something. And of course trying to recycle any empty packets correctly once they are finished with.
For her plastic-free challenge, Community Champion Ellie decided to swap yellow kitchen sponges with green scourers and her kitchen roll for SKOY cloths. Although not widely available, she sourced these earth friendly cloths online. The cloths are reusable, machine washable, 100% biodegradable, absorb 15 times their own weight and outlast 15 rolls of paper towel! She found them to be a great alternative.
Community Champion Luca took this opportunity to do an inventory of the actions he and his family took to reduce plastic pollution in different areas of their life. Have a read for some great tips and tricks!
For a long time now we have been carrying reusable shopping bags.
We love fresh juices and smoothies, but not those from a supermarket as they come in either plastic bottles or cartons, which are not recycled in our area! With a centrifugal juicer and a blender, we’re well equipped to make our own! It’s also much better to have fresh juices and smoothies – just mix fruit with milk (soya, almond, coconut). Yum Yum… Our next purchase is likely to be a yogurt maker as it’s one of the stable foods in our household and the one that produces a lot of waste.
We use a veg box scheme and are delighted to eat organic vegetables and fruit: they are delivered in cardboard boxes which we then return when receiving our next delivery. No plastic packaging and locally produced fruit and vegetables. Win win!
Whenever possible, we opt for a bigger format of packaging. Yogurt, shampoo, shower gel – by buying these in larger containers you can not only save a few pounds but also reduce plastic waste. Also, where available, we go for glass jars rather than plastic tubs. Mayonnaise and olive oil are just a couple of examples.
We use metal water bottles both at home and outside. You do need to clean these every day using bicarbonate, but it only takes 2 minutes. For ten years, we have also been drinking tap water filtered in a jug which we refill it 4 times a day.
“Takeaway Expresso (or macchiato), without a lid, please…” is what I repeat every time to all the good guys at Costa, Nero Café, Starbucks. I drink expresso, so it does not make sense to have a lid to keep the coffee hot….
I love the old-fashioned colander and grater made of metal, and we always use ceramic bowls, plates, cups and so on, even when we have a party. In the fridge we store leaf-overs in glass containers. Our most recent discovery is reusable silicone food storage bags, which we now use for freezing. These are recyclable but also very handy as they take up much less space in the freezer compared to plastic Tupperware.
Other plastic items
We recycle packaging received by mail or courier. We keep the boxes and bubble wrap and reuse them: for example, to send new parcels or to wrap fragile items when travelling. We even used bubble wrap to keep our flat warm! All you need to do is to roll bubble wrap into “sausages” and put these along the window frames to stop that cold air from coming in.
What can’t I rid of?
Razors, shampoo and shower gel bottles, most packaging for chilled and frozen food, laundry bags for shirts… These and a lot of other small things are what I need to think about and, possibly, find a more environmentally-friendly alternative.
Find out more about our #PlasticFreeMerton campaign to reduce single-use plastic across the borough