Taking responsibility and setting a good example can be amazingly positive and have knock-on affects which help us towards ending plastic pollution. The following guide is modelled on the 7 Rs of sustainability.
"We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a person changes their own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards them. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do."
– Mahatma Gandhi
What plastic do you use? Do you need the product? Are there alternatives? Can you make it?
Read a guide.
- City to Sea's Plastic Free Living guide.
- Jen Gale's Sustainable(ish).
- Friends of the Earth's 'Living Without Plastic'.
- One Green Planet's '10 Life Hacks to Help You Cut Plastic Out The Picture'
- Plastic Free Swindon blogs for the new year 2019.
Get inspiration and share ideas in a group.
Refuse to buy products wrapped in and made from plastic.
Support considerate businesses and products
- Contact businesses to ask them if they will reduce their plastic use.
- Boycott businesses who are unwilling to alter their plastic use.
- There are many good reasons to avoid Amazon, including that they won't share information about their plastic usage. Instead, buy from a socially and environmentally responsible business such as Bookshop.org and Ethical Shop.
- For deliveries, send / ask to receive items in sustainable packaging such as brown paper, paper tape, string, cardboard, recycled materials.
- Give companies their plastic back, as we did at Sainsbury's.
A great many ways to reduce plastic use. Here's a selection.
- Support the Refill scheme. Carry a reusable water bottle and food container. Use the Refill app, our local stations list, or look out for Refill stickers to find local Refill stations.
- Does a spud need another jacket? Buy loose items locally or from a market.
- Take a reusable bag(s) when shopping rather than asking for a plastic bag.
- When is a treat not a treat? Crisps, sweets, and biscuits rot our teeth and make us fat. The wrappers add to plastic waste. Bags and bags and bags....
- Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Real Nappy Network aims to help reduce the 8 million nappies that are thrown away each day. The scheme is good for the environment and good financially, with estimated savings of up to £500 per child.
- Make your own products. There are a huge number of resources available on the internet.
- Grow your own food. It requires no packaging. Fresh, local, organic food is beneficial in a great many respects. See the links section for related local groups.
- Buy wholefoods. It often costs less and is healthier than processed foods.
Buy good quality products designed to last.
- Disreputable companies use built-in / planned obsolescence to reduce the lifespan of products and increase profits. Research companies and products well.
- 'Computer technology inevitably has an environmental impact, but proprietary software makes it worse because it is often designed to lead or pressure users to discard devices sooner because support for them has ceased, or to discard defective hardware which could have been made repairable.'- The Free Software Foundation. So, instead of Windows, use a version of GNU / Linux such as Debian. Instead of Android, use Lineage. Use free / libre software instead of proprietary software.
Use better materials
- Compostable carrier and dog poo bags. Don't mix them up!
- How is something made? What is it made from? Vital questions to ask. Choose natural materials free from nasty synthetic chemicals such as FSC certified (sustainable forestry) paper and wood. For example; chips in paper or food in a reusable container.
- Carry a reusable container for take-away food. Ask for sustainable packaging. Paper for chips instead of polystyrene, for example.
- Join or start a toy library. They can reduce our carbon footprints in many ways including a reduction in plastic. A toy libarary recently started in Wootton Bassett. They used to be more common; there used to be one at Eastcott Community Centre, for example.
- Why buy when you can borrow? Introducing the Library of Things.
- Hire instead of buying.
- Lend to or borrow from a friend, family member, neighbour...
Many items can be repaired with a bit of tlc and know-how.
- Renew Swindon are an organisation who refurbish and repair, teaching valuable skills, and providing a friendly space to commune. It includes the Men's Shed in Penhill, which is open to all, part of the UK Men's Shed Association.
- Repair Cafes have sprung up around the world in the last few years. Items are repaired for free with demonstrations so that people learn and pass on new skills. Swindon is blessed with a Repair Cafe and Free Shop, a very popular community event with local live music, food and a good atmosphere. Interestingly, the free shop in Swindon came about, in part, because of Food Not Bombs.
- There are local craft groups to learn and hone skills such as Knit and Natter and Swindon Big Knit.
- Swindon Makerspace has excellent facilities to repair all kinds of items.
- There are vast amount of online guides to repairing all kinds of items.
Second hand, upcycling, art, imagination...
Buy / donate second hand.
Plastic recycling is not the solution to plastic pollution, merely slowing the rate. See our article on plastic recycling and our resource, The Life of a Plastic Bottle. Whilst we work towards zero waste, there are ways to recycle plastic.
- Pick up litter and put it in the appropriate place. Remember the waste hierarchy (in order of preference): Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle.
- Pick up and recycle discarded vapes. They contain the valuable metal lithium, as well as poisonous nicotine. Reusable vapes = less plastic and is cheaper. If you're trying to give up fags, stick with it! You smell sweeter already!
- The borough council collect plastic for recycling. See their recycling guide for details of what is and isn't recycled.
- Wiltshire Air Ambulance work with Terracycle to recycle commonly used types of plastic packaging.
Fertilise change by encouraging others. Spread the word with friends, family, neighbours... Contact organisations, representatives and businesses.
- Contact your MP. Ask them to implement the strong legislation that is needed. See our government section for further info.
- Share information with friends and family. Encourage them to make changes.
- Find a positive aspect to tackle plastic pollution such as creating a blog, making some art, handing out leaflets... The list's as long as your imagination.
- Get involved with Plastic Free Swindon!