We’ve all watched enough episodes of Blue Planet and read enough news articles to know that single-use plastics are bad for our environment.
Over the past couple of years, more and more of us are waking up to the devastating impact of global warming, and the ways in which we’re killing our oceans, forests, and countrysides: and that has to stop.
Whilst it’s great to see governments and businesses take some responsibility to make a change, we must do more to cut down our own plastic footprint and switch to sustainable alternatives.
The frustrating thing is that single-use plastic is everywhere - it’s virtually impossible to shop at your local supermarket or convenience store without bringing home bottles, cartons, trays, and other wasteful plastic products.
Of course, you can recycle them, which will help to keep those plastics away from harm’s way, but what else can you do to minimise your plastic use?
Install a water filter tap
We get it: bottled or filtered water tastes so much better than tap water, especially if you live in a hard water area or your office has old plumbing. However, plastic bottles are bad news for the environment - around the world, we buy a million bottled drinks a minute, and 91% of them aren’t recycled. Even if you do recycle them, then you’re still contributing to the toxic emissions created during the manufacturing process, and some councils don’t even recycle.
Tap water is free, safe to drink, and faces more regulation than the bottled water industry, so don’t be put off by having a glass or two in the office. If you’re serious about cutting down on plastic, consider asking your boss to install a filtered water cooler - it will only cost £100 or so but provide you and your colleagues an endless supply of clean, crisp water. And if there’s an unlimited supply of filtered water in the office, members of staff are less likely to stick to plastic…
Share your journey online
Whether you’re the owner of a small business or you’re new to the company, bring the whole team together and think about ways you can reduce your plastic use. Once you’ve done that, consider sharing your journey on social media or your website, letting customers know that you’re trying to cut back on plastic use. If you can muster up some before and after statistics on how much waste you’ve cut, then put it in a blog post or press release to inspire others.
Use hashtags like #plasticpollution, #plasticwaste, and #recycling on Instagram and Twitter to increase your reach, and remember that you don’t need to eliminate all plastics. The truth is that it’s almost impossible not to have some single-use plastics in the office, whether it’s from your stationery or postage and packaging - but cutting back will make all the difference.
Buy a reusable bottle or coffee cup
It’s an obvious one, but so easy to forget when you’re busy and rushing to get to the office on a morning. Rather than buying bottles of water in bulk or a coffee on the way into work, buy a reusable water bottle or coffee cup and fill up every morning. The chances are that your office has tea and coffee making facilities - if you make use of those, you could save yourself hundreds of pounds a year (Starbucks isn’t cheap!) and reduce your plastic use at the same time. If you don’t have a physical office and move around at work, then download the Refill app - it will let you know where you can get your water bottle filled for free. With more than 14,000 Refill Stations around the country, the app helps you to save money, stay hydrated and prevent pollution. Plus, Stations are offered by small businesses, encouraging you to spend locally and avoid major chains that are the biggest plastic waste producers.
Say no to excessive food packaging
Whether you grab a sandwich from PRET or buy salads from the supermarket to take to the office, it’s hard to avoid plastic when preparing lunches. Where possible, shop at your local greengrocers or delicatessen. Sure, you might pay a little bit more, but you know you’ll be getting high-quality produce and can carry it home in your own tubs and containers. If that is out of the question, then consider buying loose fruit and vegetables from the supermarket rather than pre-packaged alternatives - pre-prepared salads are more convenient, but it only takes a couple of minutes to create one that’s fresh and wholesome - and often cheaper, too.
Buy a reusable shopping bag
13 billion plastic carrier bags are used in the UK each year, and whilst the 5p plastics charge has seen a huge drop in their usage, it’s still often more convenient to buy a bag when you’re shopping before work. If you’re not used to carrying an extra bag in your boot, get into the habit, or stick a foldable reusable bag in your handbag for last-minute supermarket trips. In the office, consider an outright plastic bags ban amongst staff. If you’re a customer-facing business, give patrons paper bags as an alternative to single-use plastic bags, or encourage them to bring their own. Displaying signs and handing out leaflets on your commitment to cutting plastic will help customers get into the spirit and make you an eco-conscious firm.
There you have it - just some of the ways you can reduce your plastic use at work, and do your bit to protect the environment. Huge changes won’t happen overnight, but if everyone is more conscious of the planet and mindful of their plastic use, then together we can have a real difference.
Share this article with colleagues, bosses, and friends, and let’s start to make a change in the UK. Share your stories in the comments or on Twitter using @ultrateebrand.