Plastic-free July at SunGift
A plastic-free life in today’s society is certainly difficult. It seems that everywhere we turn we’re confronted by unnecessary plastic packaging.
Experts believe the situation has gotten so bad that we ingest and inhale 74,000 microplastic particles per year.
Research indicates that this has a damaging impact on the cells in our body, so minimising our intake should become an increasing priority for us.
What are SunGift doing to further the plastic-free cause?
At SunGift, we practice what we preach. Everything we do has the environment and the journey towards carbon neutrality at the forefront of our minds.
We put a significant focus on reducing our consumption of single use plastics every month, but we couldn’t resist the opportunity to advocate for this even further this plastic-free July!
Here are just a few things that we do to combat this plastic-induced crisis:
In our office
- We shun coffee pods for coffee beans.
- We get organic fruit delivered to the office – minus the plastic packaging!
- The same goes for our weekly artisan bread delivery (yes, our employee perks are in a league of their own).
- Dotted all over our office, there are marked recycling bins to make it easy for all plastic to end up in the recycling where it belongs.
On our installs
- We give our installers tubs for their plastic waste, to ensure that nothing is left on site. We pride ourselves in leaving our installs as tidy as when we arrived
- This plastic waste is then taken back to our warehouse where it is recycled.
In our warehouse
- Our plastic wrapping and strapping for the panels is recyclable and is collected by Devon Contract Waste, which is a zero to landfill company.
- The bags that our equipment come in, such as bags for clamps and screws, are stored and used many times.
- We also use reusable strapping for our panels, to minimise the amount of single-use plastic being used to store our panels.
What can you do to be plastic-free this July?
Ultimately, we can’t be expected to reduce our plastic consumption to zero straightaway and it’s almost impossible to not consume any microplastic particles (as these can be inhaled), but taking measured gradual steps is a sure-fire way to head towards a more sustainable future.
This Plastic-free July, we thought we’d share 31 tips (one for every day of this month) that will help you reduce your plastic consumption- one step at a time:
1. Say no to straws at restaurants, bars, and food trucks
Plastic straws pollute oceans and waterways, releasing chemicals into the water that are harmful to all living organisms in that environment. Paper straws and reusable straws made from metal or silicone are great alternatives.
2. Reduce the amount of soft drinks you consume
The soft drinks industry produces approximately 470 billion single-use plastic bottles every year. Coca Cola makes a quarter of all of these and almost half of Coca Cola bottles are ‘dumped, burned or littered’.
The vast majority of these bottles are not made from recycled plastics either, so try and opt for a plastic-free alternative.
3. Avoid takeaway containers
Paper and cardboard containers are useful, but if you need something sturdier try wood or metal containers. You can bring these to restaurants with you for leftovers. You can also reuse the plastic containers from takeaways in your home, so they don’t go to waste.
4. Avoid pre-packed meat and fish
Shopping with a local butcher, fishmonger, or deli is a fantastic way to support local business, but also reduce your plastic consumption. Bring a reusable container to transport your meat and fish and you’re set!
The great thing about shopping local is that this also reduces your food’s air miles, which means less plastic and pollution.
5. Buy non-packaged dry foods
Foods like nuts and dried fruit can often be brought unpackaged and in pick-and-mix stations in health stores, some supermarkets, and zero waste stores.
Additionally, you can bring bags or reusable containers to fill up from these stations. As a matter of fact, SunGift have been supporting these causes since 2018, as you can see here.
6. Bring a reusable bag to bag up fresh fruits and vegetables
The same applies for fruit and vegetables because these can be placed in reusable fabric bags, as opposed to the plastic ones provided by supermarkets.
7. Wear a reusable face-mask
Disposable face masks have been all over the place since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. So, rather than using a single-use mask that will end up in landfill, use reusable fabric masks. You can either buy these or make them yourself!
8. Avoid bottled water
Drinking from the kitchen tap in most scenarios is perfectly safe. However, if you prefer the taste of bottled water, try using a water filter or putting fruit such as lemons or oranges in your tap water.
9. Use bar soaps
Bar soaps work just as well as soaps in plastic bottles. They can even last longer!
10. Use shampoo and conditioner bars
A similar concept to the tip above, but slightly lesser known. You can actually get shampoos and conditioners in bar form- much like regular soap. Lush (link) have some great options, and you can usually find these at zero waste stores as well. This handy tip saves clutter in your bathroom also!
11. Use refillable detergents
Take a look at the detergents that you use and see if they have refills- or if there are any refillable alternatives.
12. Bring a reusable tote bag with you to put your shopping in
This is a pretty common tip, but saves so many plastic bags! It also helps you avoid the bag charges that most larger stores have in place.
13. Bring a reusable coffee cup
Reusable coffee cups are useful to carry around for grabbing a coffee when you’re out and about. You can get all kinds of cups, including ones made of recycled materials.
14. Do some litter-picking around your local area or nearby green spaces
Okay so this is more of a way to clean up others’ plastic than reduce your own consumption, but we’re all in this together, right? Just ensure you use proper equipment when doing this.
Many councils offer free litter-picking equipment to loan out. You can even check your local council’s website for how to organise a community litter pick!
15. Stop using plastic wrap
Instead of using plastic wrap to keep food fresh, you can use: paper wraps, reusable containers, or even beeswax wraps.
16. Use reusable self-care items
Women can use reusable sanitary items, but men can also help by using eco-friendly razers such as these!
17. Use reusable make-up removers
A great alternative for make-up wipes for women! You can use microfibre cloths or pads to achieve the same effect- minus the pollution. For both men and women (and children), wet wipes can be replaced by cotton balls dipped in water.
18. Stop using cleaning wipes
Detergents and cloths are just as effective and much less wasteful!
19. Recycle chewing gum
Not only does this stop gum getting all over your shoes, but there are even recycling bins made specifically for chewing gum- made out of chewing gum! This is perhaps a more niche option, but it serves as an excellent point that we can recycle so much more than we may think.
20.Stop using plastic cutlery
You can get great travel cutlery sets to avoid having to use takeaway cutlery. These can be made out of wood or metal, and often look much more stylish than their plastic counterparts.
21. Stop using plastic bin bags
For smaller bins, such as office bins, these can be used as ‘naked bins’ and just emptied and washed when needed. You also get biodegradable bin bags that cause less damage to the environment than the average bin bag.
22. Educate yourself
Before championing any cause, it’s so important to educate yourself on why it is a fight worth fighting and the best way to start. Here are some ways you can do this:
- YouTube videos
- Look into webinars or local events
23. Don’t throw out your old plastic!
This may feel like a contradiction in terms, but as long as your plastic is in use then it’s not in landfill! If you’re not buying new plastic products, then you’re achieving the aim of plastic-free July.
24. Wear clothes made from natural fibres
Avoid buying synthetic fibre clothing as it is toxic to the environment once it ends up in landfill. Natural fibres also tend to be more durable, so that means your clothes last longer.
25. Use local ‘buy nothing’ groups
All you need to do is visit buynothing.org and enter your location. You will be directed to your nearest Facebook group where neighbours share their leftovers or borrow items rather than buying new. This is also a great way to get to know people nearby!
26. Fix as much as you can! Repurpose items.
Don’t be too trigger- happy with throwing out broken items. Consider first if these can be fixed or if parts of these items can be repurposed.
27. Buy ‘old’
Taking up thrifting can do wonders for your wardrobe and the environment. Thrifting and hunting for charity shop bargains are the antidote to our current fast fashion crisis.
28. Donate items that you no longer use
Don’t throw out old items that you no longer use, especially if they contain plastic. See if you can donate these to charity shops or friends and family.
29. Ensure that you recycle as much as possible
It’s easy to throw everything in the same bin for convenience, but it’s important to make getting your recyclables into the right bin a priority.
30. Make suggestions in your workplace
For example, you can test out what we do at SunGift (featured above).
31. Share this list of tips with your friends and followers!