Tag Archives: plastics

Lent Plastic Challenge 2019

Lent Plastic Challenge 2019

If you want to cut down on your plastics but feel a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to start then the Lent Plastic Challenge is for you.

We host a group on Facebook, tips on Twitter and Instagram. Each week there is a different theme and items to focus on, so you can build up each week and get support and advise from the community.

From 6th March to 18th April have a go at reducing a few or as many single-use plastic items as you can.

Doing a 40-day challenge is less daunting than thinking it is forever.  Plus afterwards we hope you will have found some lifestyle changes that work for you and some fire in your belly to challenge the producers making all these materials that are difficult to recycle and are polluting our rivers and seas.

Get involved on:

What is the solution for ‘single-use’?

A symptom of our time-poor convenience-driven lifestyles is disposable packaging as we treat ourselves to pre-packed meals, Amazon deliveries and takeaways. So it is no co-incidence that when you look in the recycling bins on bin day they are overflowing and “single-use” was named the Collins word of 2018.

If like me, you have consciously tried reducing your packaging footprint, you soon realise that is necessary to go back to basics and find time. Time to go shopping in the greengrocers and the local zero-waste scoop shops. Time to prepare food from scratch, and time to cook. And if you want a fresh salad, you need time for gardening. Although, modern devices like blenders and slow cookers do provide some shortcuts.

The original marketing campaign for plastic, was emancipation for women from the kitchen sink, with the development of throwaway plates. And when you look at all the benefits of plastic, from microwavable meals, light-weight food protection and pre-portioned meal boxes it seems it has liberated everyone from the kitchen.

But surely if we can recycle then there is no problem? Well yes, if everything got turned back into more of the same then it wouldn’t be such a problem because there wouldn’t be a demand for more raw materials (think of all the trees being cut down for cardboard packaging) or materials being shipped around the world looking for a disposal route.

When we look at what recycling means, aluminium is infinitely recyclable with most cans containing 68% recycled content; although the strip mining of aluminium bauxite is highly destructive and polluting. Clear glass contains on average 30% recycled content whilst green contains 68%, whilst again the production is very energy intensive.

In contrast, plastic polymers have been deliberately made hard to recycle to prevent a secondary market. This means they are often ‘downcycled’ into other products like piping and furniture. PET and HDPE are the easiest plastics to recycle back into bottles and this practice is starting to increase with Fairy and Ecover producing 100% recycled bottles in 2018. But due to the cheap price of virgin plastics the demand hasn’t been present from producers for recycled content or for producers to take responsibility for the materials that they put on our shelves after use.

Producers aren’t responsible for their products end-of-life. Photo credit: Fotolia

 

This leaves councils and recyclers with materials that they need to find a home for, which is where the international commodity market comes into play and ‘recycling’ is sold around the world for ‘processing’. It can end up in countries that have significantly weaker environmental controls on burning and dumping waste. It is no coincidence, that the rivers that dump the most plastic pollution into the oceans are places like China where historically western countries sent their low-grade plastic recycling to. And since China banned plastic imports, UK recycling has been found dumped in illegal plants in Malaysia.

Finally; as our oceans are nearly at suffocation, legislation and initiatives are being put in place to reconsider the pitfalls of our single-use culture. The UK Government has 30% recycled content targets for packaging producers in its new Waste and Resources Strategy. And more excitingly, international schemes are being developed to make reuse more viable with delivery services like ‘Loop’ trialling reusable packaging with mainstream brands like Pantene and Hagan Daaz; and RePack, providing reusable bags for online retailers. There are also a number of reusable coffee cup and box schemes being trialled with multiple venues participating, on high streets around the world. These schemes are all part of the move to a more ‘circular economy’; meaning that materials stay in use for longer, either through reuse, repair or recycling.

 
The UK Governments ambitions for a Circular Economy for plastics

 

So could ‘reuse’, or ‘circular economy’ stem the tide of single-use? Could they even be the words of 2019? Through my own work with reuse schemes, the issues of time-poor lifestyles and convenience is a constant focal point for usurping single-use. It also remains to be seen how producers respond to changes in legislation and the requirements for responsible production and eco-design, without finding short-cuts. As well as if the UK Government will actually ban some ‘single-use’ items such as cutlery and straws or just consult on these issues.

Me, Livvy Drake in preparation for my talk- it’s going to be interactive! Photo credit: Cya Design

If you want to find out more about these issues: where are recycling really goes, what the circular economy alternatives are and how you can reduce packaging from your own business or lifestyle then join me for the Tipping Point: where does our waste go? On 21st March, at the White Rabbit in Clifton, Bristol.

The Tipping Point: Where does our waste go?

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Do you ever wonder?

Why is recycling and particularly plastic recycling so complicated?  Is waste to energy a better solution to landfill? Why aren’t producers responsible for the packaging that ends up in our bin? What is the Government doing about it?

Well ‘The Tipping Point: Where does our waste go?‘  will answer all these questions and more. This will be a chance to:

  • Get an understanding on what recycling really means for many products and materials.
  • Understand about the plants and countries where our waste gets processed and how this affects their end of life.
  • Plus all the developments and positive changes that are afoot to readdress the materials ending up on our shelves in the first instance.
This talk is perfect for those who have committed to reducing plastics, are confused by recycling or want to make informed decisions for their business and product packaging.
The speaker, Livvy Drake has worked across the waste landscape, from managing waste systems at festivals to delivering food and plastic waste reduction campaigns.
Venue: The White Rabbit, CliftonDoors: 7pm / Talk starts: 7.30pm.

Tickets: £12 but if you use this code you can get £5 into your Funzing account to use against the ticket.

 

Why plastic ‘aint fantastic for Mother Nature

As we get ready for the Lent Plastic Challenge,today’s blog is all about the environmental impacts of plastics throughout it’s lifecycle.

Where does plastic come from?
Plastic is made from crude oil, which is mined/drilled around the world. Oil is a fossil fuel, meaning it was created thousands of years ago from fossil refinement and it is a finite resource that is running out.

IMPACT: This means the search for new oil reserves is heading into protected, virgin, delicate eco systems. Drilling for oil for plastics is directly implicated with Rainforest destruction in the Amazon.

How is plastic made?

Crude oil is mixed with chemicals to stabilise it. The process requires large quantities of energy and water.

IMPACT: Co2 emissions from production and transportation. Use of finite materials such as water and fossil fuels in it’s production.

Does plastic biodegrade or compost?
NO! Every piece of plastic that has been ever made still exists. It takes over 500 years for plastics to break down. Plastics in the oceans don’t biodegrade either they just break down into smaller particles.

IMPACT: Beaches and oceans littered with a fine glitter like layer of plastics.

But cant plastic be recycled?

The real meaning of recycling is to return a material to a similar state within a cyclical process (think paper and cans).
Plastic ‘recycling’ is confusing because:
a) There are so many types of plastics
b) Plastics get turned into other products in a downcycling process e.g broom handles, fleece jumpers.
c) In the UK, there is no consistent process, some could get recycled, downcycled, shipped abroad for incineration or buried in landfill.

What about all the plastic in the sea?
The 5 Gyres latest research suggests there are 268,000 tonnes of plastic in the oceans.
IMPACT: Plastic killing mammals and entering the food chain through fish and into humans.

impact-on-wildlife

How can you do your bit?
Whilst the prevalence of plastics shows no sign of abating (it is a cheap material), it is important that consumers and lobbying groups form to stand up against the plastics industry. Choosing to refuse and avoid single-use plastic items such as plastic bags, bottles, food containers and skin wash with microbeads in are a great start.

lent-plastic-challenge-960w

How does the Lent plastic challenge work?

If you think you could avoid plastic water bottles and microwaving meals in plastic tubs for 40 days you should join us on the Lent Plastic Challenge.

The Lent Plastic Challenge is not about throwing out every plastic item in your house.

Instead it’s about challenging your habits and shopping behaviours to see what single-use plastics you could ‘give-up’.

You could pick a couple of items and focus on those OR every week try and cut out another item, with the programme and support of the Green Livvy team.

What support is included in the Lent Plastic Challenge?

We will provide you with:

  • Weekly webinars containing advice, facts and motivation
  • Daily inspiration including videos and recipes
  • An online community to share your achievements, discoveries and challenges

How do I join?

Join the Lent Plastic Challenge Facebook Group or sign-up for email updates.

Want to find out more about plastics and health?

Further reading:

5 Gyres website
Plastic Coalition website

Hmm it doesn’t say plastic residue in the ingredients!

At Green Livvy we are getting ready for the Lent Plastic Challenge. Lent starts on 18th February, so not long now! We have received lots of questions and queries from our followers on why they should do it and what it entails. So in these blogs we will outline a number of issues with plastics and what is involved in giving up.

This blog is all about some of the health issues.

health-impact

What is the problem with plastics for our health?

Plastics are made from oil and a cocktail of chemicals which give them their consistency- hard, squidy, soft, colourful etc. These chemical compounds such as BPA’s and phosphates have been linked with various health conditions including fertility & hormonal issues, cancer and birth defects.

You may have heard that you shouldn’t drink water from plastic water bottles that have heated up in the car. This is because the chemicals leach out into the water. It naturally follows that microwaving plastics also can have the same impact.

Understanding all the different types of plastics and their safety is a minefield and  whilst the advise and levels of toxicity between different plastics is constantly being scrutinised, would you want to risk it?

Current articles

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How do I address the health implications of plastics heating up?

  • Avoid reusing plastic bottles and invest in a metal reusable bottle
  • Avoid food in plastic tubs
  • Do not microwave anything in a plastic tub

What are the side-effects of giving up single-use plastics?

It does take a little thought first of all to remember a water bottle, but like most habits if you do them enough they soon become second nature.

Some of the benefits include:

  • We save a fortune not buying plastic bottled drinks, and getting our reusable water bottle filled
  • We certainly feel healthier choosing to avoid foods in plastic pots especially microwave meals and vegetables. Have you ever noticed the chemical tastes on salads, chopped fruit and microwave vegetable sides- those are to keep the vegetables and fruit stable after they have been chopped up. Yuk!

lent-plastic-challenge-960w

How does the Lent plastic challenge work?

If you think you could avoid plastic water bottles and microwaving meals in plastic tubs for 40 days you should join us on the Lent Plastic Challenge.

The Lent Plastic Challenge is not about throwing out every plastic item in your house.

Instead it’s about challenging your habits and shopping behaviours to see what single-use plastics you could ‘give-up’.

You could pick a couple of items and focus on those OR every week try and cut out another item, with the programme and support of the Green Livvy team.

What support is included in the Lent Plastic Challenge?

We will provide you with:

  • Weekly webinars containing advice, facts and motivation
  • Daily inspiration including videos and recipes
  • An online community to share your achievements, discoveries and challenges

How do I join?

Join the Lent Plastic Challenge Facebook Group or sign-up for email updates.

Want to find out more about plastics and health?

Further reading: