Can You Be Plastic Free In July?

Take the Marine Conservation Society's 'Plastic Challenge' to try and detox your life

Plastic debris in the Thames- Nick Foster

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Putney resident followd the Thames this summer raising funds and awareness of plastic pollution

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With more plastic than fish (by weight) in our seas predicted to be a possibility by 2050, our reliance on plastic in all its forms is clear.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says, "We’re in a plastic pickle and so with the nightmare that plastic pollution is creating in our oceans now high on political, personal and news agendas, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK's leading marine charity, is once again throwing down the gauntlet to the public to take on our Plastic Challenge."

MCS is asking people to give up single-use plastics for the whole of July.

Simon Reeve, TV presenter and MCS Ocean Ambassador, says, “Our planet is becoming poisoned by plastic. The vast amount in our oceans has become an environmental emergency as a direct result of our throwaway society. That’s why I’m supporting thousands of people living without single use plastic this July as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge. Don’t just get depressed about plastic - stop using it!”

The charity has run the Plastic Challenge for the last four years – and has been supported in doing so by BRITA UK since 2016. More than 1,000 people took part in 2016, and last year over 5,035 registered to give up using single use plastic. That includes food packaged in plastic, plastic water bottles, plastic milk bottles, shower gels, toothpaste and pasta to name but a very few.

“This is a challenge that you can make as easy or as hard for yourself as you like,” says Dr. Sue Kinsey MCS Technical Specialist. “But however you choose to do it you won't fail to realise just how reliant on plastic we’ve become. Some things are really tough to replace however much you want to give up single-use plastic."

"The support we had last year was amazing and we know, from the comments we received on social media, that for many, this month is the start of a lifestyle change."

Among the things people found hardest to replace were milk containers, dried goods packaged in single use plastic like pasta rice and pulses, loo paper and toothpaste.

Diana Szpotowicz, Community Lead for Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) Plastic Free Putney told this website, " Reducing the reliance on plastic is important not only for individuals but for companies and organisations in Putney as well. Consumers are beginning to question the ethics of a company if they are serving their products in non-recyclable plastic; it's essentially the same thing as wrapping something in rubbish. Schools and councils need to set the example for the community and ban plastic straws and other single-use plastics from their premises. The Plastic Challenge is a perfect time to kick off more sustainable policies.

"It's easy to bring a fabric bag to the shops or remember your reusable water bottle once or twice, but then most people go back to their old ways. The Plastic Challenge is a good way to really test yourself. It takes at least a few weeks to begin to form a new habit, so the challenge is a way to kick-start a new way of life. Well, it's really a traditional way of life that has long been forgotten, where a little planning and preparation was necessary before hitting the shops. Our waterways and environment just can't afford for us to continuously rely on the convenience of single-use plastic anymore.

"The little actions really add up. Some ways that you can almost instantly reduce your reliance on single-use plastic are by using a reusable coffee cup (and getting a discount on your coffee at high street chains), bringing your fabric bag to the supermarket and refusing plastic straws at the pub and restaurants. Talk to every shop and organisation that you see using an unnecessary amount of plastic and voice your concerns - companies will listen to a loud collective voice."

MCS says that many people who take on the challenge really do get stuck in. “They know why it’s so important to cut down on our plastic use," says Dr Kinsey. "If these dedicated ditchers found it hard to find non single use plastic alternatives then that just goes to show how plastic dominates our lives even if you actively don’t want it to."

This year MCS hopes even more people will try and give up single use plastic during July. The BBC's Blue Planet II brought the issue of plastic pollution in our seas into the UK's sittings rooms at the back end of last year and this year there's also more help and advice available than before to help Challengers.

MCS has written a book on the living life without plastic: "How To Live Plastic Free – a day in the life of a plastic detox" (Published by Headline UK, ISBN 978-1-4722-5981-3)

The book takes you through an average day giving tips and practical advice on how to remove unnecessary plastic at every opportunity. From getting up to going to bed you can find out about plastic-free cosmetics, mealtimes, shopping, workplace, pets, sporting and special events.

Last year Challengers made their own bread, yogurt, cleaning and bathroom products like mouthwash and sugar scrubs so as not to use plastic containers that are used once and then thrown out.

MCS beach cleaning data has revealed a rise of 180% of plastic litter found on beaches in the last two decades posing a huge threat to wildlife and humans. Plastic bags, bottles and tiny plastic pieces, are regularly found in the stomachs of turtles and other sea creatures and in some cases have caused their death from starvation or choking.

“Reducing plastic litter will certainly be an uphill climb - but there are some easy steps to take and if we can all cut down the amount we use there’s no doubt our marine environment will be a healthier place” says Dr. Kinsey. “People taking on the Plastic Challenge are often shocked to find out just how much single-use plastic is used every day. Have a go and even if you can only manage a single day and you’ll never look at your shopping in the same way again!”

The Plastic Challenge is once again being sponsored by water filtration company BRITA UK. Becky Widdowson is BRITA UK's Marketing Director: ”It’s fantastic to be supporting the Plastic Challenge alongside MCS once again. At BRITA UK we believe it is absolutely vital that we step up to protect marine life from the unnecessary damage done by single use plastic bottles and other forms of plastic litter. One or two small changes such as carrying a refillable bottle or a reusable bag or opting out of disposable bottled water when we buy our lunch or go to the gym, could have such an enormous positive impact. Given that 60 per cent of people would be willing to switch from bottled water to more environmentally friendly alternatives it’s clear this can be done."

Sign up to take part in the Plastic Challenge at:

June 28, 2018

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