One of the highlights of this year’s Glastonbury was a surprise appearance by David Attenborough, who congratulated the crowd and the organisers for going plastic-free for the first time in the iconic festival’s history.
People and companies are increasingly aware of the need to reduce plastic consumption and waste, thanks largely to the graphic images seen in Attenborough’s Planet Earth II series. To further encourage this vital ethos, The Plastic Free Foundation is encouraging everyone to participate in Plastic Free July.
Plastic Free July
This is a global initiative that encourages everybody to do what they can to reduce their use of plastic, particularly of single-use plastics such as water bottles, straws and carrier bags. They have loads of ideas
on their website for any individual or company who wants to get involved. Last year, an incredible 120 million people across 177 countries joined in. Could you or your business take part this July?
Ways to reduce plastic in your business
There are lots of different ways in which you as an individual could reduce your plastic waste, but to have an even greater impact, why not involve your workplace and get everyone working towards the same goal? You can take the challenge
via Plastic Free July’s official site, or do something more low-key and work towards a sustainable reduction of plastic use all year round and post your efforts on your company’s website or social media pages.
1. Encourage eco-habits in the workplace
Could your staff or co-workers do more to reduce their use of plastic? Encourage them to bring reusable water bottles and wrap sandwiches in recyclable material or reusable containers rather than clingfilm. Consider offering incentives such as entry into a monthly prize draw to anyone who posts photos of their efforts on your social media site.
2. Ask suppliers to use plastic-free packaging
Have a think about what your workplace regularly orders in. Stationery, for example, can be heavily packaged and many items (such as rulers and ballpoints) are made mainly of plastic. Can you use alternative products that contain less plastic or use less packaging? If you have any say over procurement in your company, find out from your regular suppliers what they can offer by way of alternatives to plastic packaging. If your regular supplier can’t or won’t provide plastic-free alternatives, consider alternative suppliers and make it clear why you’re doing so.
3. Provide fresh water filling stations
Staff need fresh drinking water throughout the day to remain productive. To encourage staff to use fewer single-use plastics (such as water bottles), invest in water coolers in your workplace and ask that staff bring reusable bottles from home to fill up as and when needed.
4. Audit your communal kitchen
Have a good clear out of your staffroom cupboards. How many single-use plastics are there? Bin liners, straws, plastic bags, plastic cutlery… it can be surprising to see just how much plastic there is already in your workplace. Many local authorities offer centralised soft plastic recycling points: consider rounding up the single-use plastics in your kitchen and arranging for a volunteer to take them to be recycled. Replace them with ceramic crockery, steel cutlery and compostable bin liners (or you could line your bin with newspapers instead).
5. Use positive signage
It’s easy for staff and customers to forget to bring their own bags or to pop their rubbish in the correct recycling receptacle. Consider downloading some of these posters
to create visible signage reminding others to do their bit to help the environment and making it easier for them to recycle.
6. Upgrade your cuppas
Switch to plastic-free teabags and ceramic mugs in your kitchen to make your tea breaks more eco-friendly. For an even greater impact, swap your plastic milk cartons for glass milk bottles or make up milk from tinned, dried milk powder.
7. Recycle more efficiently
Many workplaces have separate recycling bins for paper waste, but few have similar receptacles for plastic waste. Often this is because it’s unclear what the local authority will or will not recycle (you could consider prompting your local authority to do more to recycle plastics by writing to your councillors). Sometimes, it’s because recycling companies charge considerable amounts to collect recyclables. If your local authority accepts plastic recycling at your local recycling unit, see whether you can arrange a rota for volunteers to take a bag of plastics to be recycled every week or fortnight.
Safestore and Plastic Free July
We’re really pleased to support this cause and we’ve had a really positive response from staff across our 118 stores. Some of the steps we’ve taken are:
• Changed all milk deliveries at Head Office to glass bottles.
• Set ourselves a target to reduce all single-use plastic in our packaging range to 0% by the end of financial year 2019.
• Running a photo competition so teams in store can show us what they are doing to make a difference.
• Making our recycling points more visible.
The more companies and individuals that join this important movement, the better for everyone. If you make small changes, there’s no reason why those changes can’t be continued every month to help you work towards a plastic-free workplace for the long term.