So Jersey, are you ready for the challenge of Plastic Free July?
This year, in conjunction with Plastic Free Jersey, we are launching the full Plastic Free July campaign here in Jersey. We are challenging islanders to shop single-use Plastic Free for the entire month of July. Whether that’s for your morning coffee or your whole weekly shop – we believe you can do it all, without the plastic packaging.
Plastic Free July is a global movement that started in Australia in 2011, and by 2018 had grown into a majestic campaign in which 120 million people from 177 countries took part, Jersey included. But this year we think it can be bigger and better in Jersey.
Shopping plastic-Free isn’t necessarily convenient and it’s not going to be easy – but I guarantee you it will open your eyes to the vast amount of single-use plastics still in use in our day to day lives, and why it is so important that we reduce their use.
In January 2017 I started on a Jersey path to zero-waste living, choosing one item at at time, investigating alternatives and then making it part of my day-to-day routine, before moving on to the next item. At the beginning it was super easy – seasonal fruit and vegetables from the central market or farm shops, fish in my own glass container at the fish market, and even the occasional butcher who would let me buy meat.
But then I began to stumble – everything else became immensely difficult as it was wrapped or presented in single-use plastics with no alternatives available.
Fast forward two years and it’s a very different story!
With unending thanks to the work of David Attenborough in bringing the effects of plastic pollution to the communal consciousness of the masses, the ongoing work of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Sky Ocean Rescue, the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Communities network which Plastic Free Jersey are part of, and now War on Plastic (to name but a few) the effects of plastic pollution are now widely known. We know the effect we are having on our Living Planet, and with new knowledge comes new solutions as well as a revival of some of the ‘old’ ways.
On island we have seen the introduction of bulk-buying options that now allow us to make purchases plastic-free, matched with an upsurge in the available of plastic-free alternatives at island stores and online.
With lots of local options available and the Plastic Free July campaign, you can be part of the solution not the problem.
Start by thinking about your daily routine.
I walk every day so for me a refillable water bottle is a must, so it sits by the sink to remind me to actually refill it and take it. If you like a proper coffee on the way to work, grab your keep cup and put it in your bag/next to your keys/beside your front door – anywhere that you can see it to remind you, until it just becomes habit to take it. If you have a take-away lunch, then do the same with your cutlery (we all have a drawers full, so no need for plastic), and your refillable container and re-use bag.
Plastics have revolutionized the way we now shop. 5o years ago we would buy locally and have a choice only of what was in season. But in today’s globalized world we have come to expect food, such as strawberries, all year round. This means that goods have to be grown using resources such as energy, water and labour, picked and processed, packaged, flown or shipped vast distance to get to the UK, sorted and then shipped to Jersey, road transported to your local supermarket, where we (often) drive to collect them. Those good have to be packaged to keep them fresh and unsquished over that length of distance and time. However, if we support our local farmers and suppliers by shopping locally and buy what’s available within the seasons then there should be no need for the majority of that packaging – with the added benefit of having the freshest of food with minimum food miles, the creation of jobs on island, a lower carbon footprint to the food you eat as well as protection the environment. We can do all of that simply in the way we spend, voting with the power of the pound!
Next step is to think about how and where you shop.
We are lucky in that the central market, farm shops and hedge-veg stalls continue in their long history of just selling their fresh produce automatically without plastic, because that’s they way they have always worked.
Even in the supermarkets we have choices. When I have those conversations about the amount of plastic in the supermarket I’m often told that customers want the plastic packaging. I’ve seen with my own eyes two boxes of produce sitting beside each other – one unpackaged and cheaper and the other packaged and more expensive – and the packaged produce went faster. When I asked the customer why packaged over not, the comment was ‘I didn’t see the difference – I need broccoli and lifted the first broccoli I saw.’ So please take the time to see the unpackaged produce at the supermarket, or actively shop at the farm shops or central market where unpackaged is the norm.
Fruit and veg packing are just the tip of the problem. Get to know your local butcher and fishmonger; the shops where you can refill your existing bottle of cleaning products (Scoop, Mini mall & The organic shop); the take-away that lets you bring your own containers; even the hairdressers that do the same. Think creatively about how you’ll get away from that one item of single use plastic.
We must. We are all custodians of the land. It’s time to take action. Plastics is just one part of the bigger picture – loss of biodiversity, climate change through over use of fossil fuels, pollution – they are all so very different, but intrinsically linked – so by making changes in one area we also help in the other. That said – if you’re going to drive all around the island to buy things packaging free, you’re not really having the intended impact! Do what you can, where you can.
We have partnered with many local businesses for Plastic Free July – so as you go about your daily routine keep an eye out for our posters detailing what you can take in and use there.
But most of all – spread the word! Share your hints and tips of what to buy where, how to make alternatives, what are the work-arounds, what are you doing without…..
And don’t forget to use your voice – if you can’t get something plastic-free – ask why not of the supermarket or the manufacturer. If you don’t ask, you don’t get 💚
Please pop back to The Good Jersey Life and Plastic Free Jersey for hints, tips and to hear more about the businesses involved in the campaign.