Taking the Plastic Free July challenge and how small traders can help

Can Sheena Grant keep her Plastic Free July pledge after signing up for the initiative designed to r

Can Sheena Grant keep her Plastic Free July pledge after signing up for the initiative designed to raise awareness about plastic pollution and encourage us to use alternatives. Picture: Archant

If you don’t know the horrors of single-use plastic by now, where have you been? Certainly not visiting a beach, where the effects of this ubiquitous waste are all-too obvious to see, writes Sheena Grant.

Plastic pollution is poisoning our environment, seas and killing wildlife. According to environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage, around 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into the world’s oceans every day.

But given the scale of the problem, it can be hard to know how to make a difference. Well, you could start by signing up for the Plastic Free July challenge. I’ve done just that (at www.plasticfreejuly.org) pledging, in a kind of environmental fervour, to cut my plastic completely.

But no sooner had I committed than reality set in. What would I put in my kitchen bin if not a plastic liner? The Plastic Free July website suggests old newspaper but I’m not convinced. You can buy cornstarch liners but they are more expensive than plastic. Producing less waste may be the answer, thereby making one cornstarch liner go much further.

My first trip to the shops post pledge wasn’t a great success either - strawberries not packaged to plastic trays do not seem to exist, even at my local greengrocer. I’ll just have to look harder, or pick my own.

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More retailers perhaps need to follow the example of Jane Pearson at her Health Foods For You store in North Street, Sudbury, (www.healthfoodsforyou.co.uk).

Jane has just launched a Go Green and Save ‘zero waste’ project, converting many of her health food lines into self-dispensing canisters. Customers are encouraged to bring in their own container or bag, which is weighed ahead of being filled with loose, self-serve products, such as grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and loose-leaf teas, so they pay only for the product.

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“We are huge advocates of reusing over recycling so customers can bring along any container they like,” says Jane. “It’s effortless to take back control of your food, getting the amount you need. Shopping this way is simple to do, empowering and fun for the whole family to get involved in.”


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