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The Plastic Challenge

Plastic-ChallengeNow here is a campaign that really resonated with me, the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Plastic Challenge’. They are asking people to give up single use plastic during the month of June. Realistically MSC says it is unlikely, in this day and age, to be totally plastic free but there is scope for massive reduction. So do you think you could last a day, a week or a whole month in giving up plastic?

Back in 2005 I was so incensed about the amount of plastic litter I was seeing in our hedgerows and coastline that I decided, in my own small way , to try and do something about it. I had been fortunate enough to have travelled to Australia and New Zealand where they seemed to be much more switched on, certainly regarding the single use plastic bag. Supermarkets stocked reusable calico bags which gave me the idea to set up a business to provide an alternative to plastic bags and so BagAge was born.

In my research about the problems of plastic in the environment I came across Algalita Marine Research and Education who had some compelling arguments for reducing our use of plastic. I often used the video they produced, called the Synthetic Sea and screened it on my laptop at Food Festivals and other events where I was trading. One year at Conwy Food Festival a fellow trader, a meat producer from North Wales, approached me and asked if I’d brought the video again. ‘No’ I said ‘I’ve played it so much the quality isn’t good any more!’ He replied ‘That’s a shame, after seeing it last year I haven’t been able to get the images of all the plastic in our oceans out of my head. It’s really made me think about how I should be packaging my meat.’ I didn’t even realise he had seen it but was chuffed that one small action by me had made another think twice about the excessive use of plastic.

So why should we try and give up our addiction to single use plastic? Here is what MCS has to say about it.

Up to 20 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans each year. Plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, but never goes away.

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Seals, dolphins, turtles and orca eat plastic, mistaking it for real food.

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Toxins stick to plastic, plastics are eaten by fish and then enter the food chain. These toxins, like PCBs, have been linked to reproductive failure in Polar Bears. What’s it doing to us?

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We’re eating plastic! Microplastics have been found in mussels, oysters and sea scallops.

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Seabirds confuse small plastic pellets with fish eggs and will often feed it to their chicks.

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In our shop, here in Newcastle Emlyn, many of our Fair Trade suppliers are ‘plastic aware’ but any plastic packaging that does arrive is either reused or recycled. We also encourage our suppliers to reduce their packaging when we meet up with them at Trade Fairs, one particular pet hate are the plastic hang tags.

We of course also have a range of reusable stuff to aid you in your quest in meeting the plastic challenge. For the last 9 years I have been selling the Onya Bag range of reusable bags, water bottles and sandwich wraps. These are great products and the bags and sandwich wraps are made out of recycled plastic bottles!

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Another great product in the Onya range is the Onya Weigh. These are 5 tulle produce bags stuffed in a handy pouch. I use them several times a week when I go to the Carrot Cruncher to buy my veggies. Easy to use, they don’t affect the weight of the produce and you can wash your salads and veggies in them too.

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According to the Recycling Guide  15 million plastic bottles are used each day in the UK! There is no need to buy water in plastic bottles, great water comes out of the tap and if you use a stainless steel reusable water bottle from the H2Onya range then you’ll be reducing that plastic bottle mountain.

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To help you with your Plastic Challenge we will be offering 10% off all our Onya products throughout the month of June so there is no better time to make your contribution to saving our Oceans.