For #PlasticFreeJuly Mhairi McNeil, Reuse Hub Manager at National Lottery funded Remake Scotland, shares her top tips for reducing plastic waste.
My plastic reducing journey began in earnest last year when I became dismayed at the use of single use plastic every day. I knew that it would take a slow concerted effort to make the full switch and so began where I knew I could make quick, easy wins; looking out for products I could buy that were in cardboard boxes and paper packaging rather than plastic.
The bathroom and kitchen are where I encountered my biggest challenges; the amount of single use plastics was extensive! I decided to get rid of the dreadful culprit which is cling film and made a lot of beeswax wraps to do their job instead and provide plenty of packed lunch wrappings.
My main breakthrough in the kitchen though was my local grocer’s store where I would wheel my trolley up to with all my plastic tubs and glass jars and fill up on pulses, flours, spices and so much more.
In the bathroom I scrap bottled products in favour of bars, I also use re-usable crocheted cotton face wipes. I’ve also changed my sanitary products to non-plastic paper based or reusable silicone cups.
Finally, I have started making my own household cleaners and have invested in large quantities of lemon juice, vinegar, bicarb of soda and castille soap and have been making up several bottles at a go so that it doesn’t become a chore.
Here at Remake we like to keep as much as we can out of landfill and in the circular economy, including all the different plastic items that we are given. We regularly create ‘Loose Parts’ suitcases full of different plastic types and items for nurseries or pre-school groups. We bundle all sorts of plastic items up and sell for arts and crafts projects. With heavier, more durable plastics we use them for display, storage and promoting and selling our products. We have a kitchen area full of reusable cups and crockery and encourage our volunteers to use these rather than disposable plastic-based items.
As a last resort, where plastic is damaged or beyond use we actively recycle what we can through our local council scheme and the local supermarket poly bags recycle scheme. Often donators bring their items in to us in single use poly bags, we flatten, fold and elastic band them and make them freely available to customers.
Here at Remake we see the ubiquitous presence of everyday plastic in our lives and we try our best to actively reuse and recycle as much of it as we possibly can. We very much hope that we see a day soon where there is a tipping point and pointless plastic begins to wane.
Find out more about the work of Remake Scotland here.