At the beginning of the year, I shared a lot of people’s horror of the devastation plastics was having on our oceans and sealife. #noplastic was seriously trending. I resolved to see what action we could take here to improve our use of plastics.
It’s not easy! Plastics are everywhere and sometimes they’re a good thing because they’re durable and can be re-used time and again. That means less production and less waste.
I decided to focus on reducing our single use plastics. The first thing I did was ban all plastic drinking straws. Pretty easy to do and it’s something a lot of places are doing now. I felt kinda sorry for the plastic drinking straw makers but you gotta move with the times. There are lots of gorgeous paper straw options and at home we went for glass straws for our smoothies and cocktails – I love them! You can get them here.
There are also bamboo and wheat alternatives but we’re finding couples are going for the paper ones which come in all kinds of fab colours and patterns. We get our paper straws from Wholesale Paper Straws. Not the catchiest name(!) but I guess it does what it says on the tin…
We’ve changed our black bin bags to 100% recycled ones by Green Sack. They’re 100% recycled with a high percentage of recycled farm films like bale wraps and crop covers, only from UK and Irish farms. They’re more than twice the price of regular bin bags but I’m happy to spend the extra money.
From next year we’ll be asking florists either not to use floral foam (oasis) or to come and collect it after the wedding. The flower arches look amazing but they are usually supported on netted garlands made from floral foam which not only have the foam but also a plastic netting and numerous metal ties – they’re about as un-recycleable as you can imagine! Don’t worry we’re not saying you can’t use them but I’m giving our florists plenty of notice that if they use foam, they need to come back and pick it up to get rid of it. I have no way of getting rid of them, I can’t compost them or recycle them – they have to go in our refuse and that goes into land fill. So from now on – no more!
In the honeymoon cottage kitchen, we’ve moved over to recycled tin foil and other products from If You Care We also get our paper snack bags from them. I’ve started using Bee’s Wax Wraps bags but to be honest I’m not completely sold on them, they’re more hassle than a paper bag or clingfilm (you need to heat them in the oven to clean them every so often) so I might just need to persist with those.
The stat that every plastic toothbrush ever made is still in existence shocked me so at home we moved over to bamboo toothbrushes in January and they’re still going. They look cute too so I’m happy with that change. I got them from Ethical superstore
We’ve also stopped buying q-tips with plastic. That was an easy one, there are plenty of places online where I could find them and we’re using organic cotton pads too.
In the office we’ve always used recycled printing paper for general office use. For any letters I send out by post (very few these days, almost everything is on email) I use a recycled paper made from golf course grass clippings. I love the lil bits of grass you see in the paper and it works just fine in the printer. Our envelopes are made from old maps which I also love. It always makes people smile when you give them one of these envelopes which is an added bonus! I get the grass paper and map envelopes from The Green Stationery Company.
We recycle our printer cartridges through a postal scheme run via Office Depot and a charity to help bring sport to young people. We just put them in a bag and when the bag’s full, we pop them in the post which is prepaid. Easy.
I saw the other week that National Trust have moved over to a starch bag for the magazines they post out. Brilliant idea and I hope more companies will do that. So many (unsolicited) catalogues and stuff I get in the post has those plastic bags – ugh.
It’s still a work in progress. We still have large single use plastic bottles for drinks. We recycle the plastic (Devon does a better job than most at recycling) but it’s still plastic and I wish they’d come up with a biodegradable alternative but I don’t think there’s any sign of that.
I recycle all the plastic plant pots and re-use all my plant trays. I won’t buy any more plastic trays but I will use the existing ones until they fall apart – which may be never, they’re plastic after all!
So it’s not perfect, we’re definitely not a plastic free zone but I’m much more conscious now about plastic use. My local Morrisons has replaced the plastic bags for loose fruit and veg with paper bags. I was picking up the loose veg and just putting it in my trolley without a bag so the paper bags make things easier. I hate the vacuum packs of meat they do so I’ve stopped buying those, Morrisons will put any meat you buy from their meat counter into your own container you bring from home. We’ve also got permanent bags for carrying back the breakfast shopping we do for each wedding. And I’ve got a collection of cotton bags I use for my personal shopping, hanging on a hook just inside the porch so it’s easy to remember to take one when I go out.
Work in progress
From now on, I’m buying all bacon and sausages for our wedding couples from our local butcher which comes in paper wrapping. So no more plastic for that. I’ve looked to move over to glass milk bottles from plastic but that’s easier said than done. It’s hard to find a supplier, especially one willing to deliver down our lane. None of the supermarkets sell non-plastic milk containers so I’m still working on that.
I’ll report back with any further progress we make on this. #noplastic
If you’ve got any ideas about how we can reduce our single use plastic, I’d love to hear from you!