Reducing Your plastic Use.

      Time flies so quickly. 

I cannot believe that we hosted Portsmouth Green Drinks and “tools and tips for reducing plastic” a WHOLE MONTH ago!

So much has happened in the shop, and locally on the issues discussed that evening and as we are hosting the group again this Wednesday I thought it apt to finally write up some of the tips given on the evening.

It was such a great event, and was really uplifting to see so many like minded folk under one roof, with a supportive community feel and no judgement towards others. It’s certainly affected how I look at my shopping in my personal life and also with the business.

Sarah Shreeve and Clare Seek shared their journeys towards using little to no plastic in their lives and amongst other things gave us some amazing tips as to how we can reduce plastic use day to day. Lots of additional suggestions were given from the floor and others and I have tried to give an overview of these belowSo much has happened in the shop, and locally on the issues discussed that evening and as we are hosting again this Wednesday I  thought it apt to finally write up some of the tips given on the evening.. (I’m keeping it in a list format as there is a LOT of suggestions). 

SO. In no particular order and without bias (as I’m aware there are LOADS MORE examples of shops doing great things!) here are some of these tips to reduce plastic in your life:

1. Shop Local for food.

In plastic packaging on your fruit and veg drives you insane try a local greengrocer as smaller veg shops sell their veg loose.

>>> Independent shops like Southsea Fruit and Veg in Albert Road, Ron White in Marmion Road and Portsmouth Fruit and Flower in Eastney Road all sell veg loose plus its a chance to get to know your local trader. 

Independent butchers will allow you to take your own Tupperware’s. 

>>> On the evening Buckwells in Osborne Road and Bransbury Park butchers in Eastney were both mentioned as businesses that allow you to fill your own containers with their meat.

A lot of the ethnic supermarkets were cited as great places to buy tins that aren’t lined in plastic, dairy  products in reusable glass jars, loose pulses and herbs out of plastic packaging.  

>>> Specific shops mentioned included the Mediterranean Supermarket on Elm Grove and Akrams in Palmerston Road

Try a whole foods shop, where you can buy grains in bulk or spices buy the weight. 

>>> Wild Thyme in Palmerston Road sell herbs and spices loose, so you can take your own container. Rice Up in Southampton sell bulk grains and pulses. 

Feel you don’t have the time to visit lots of different shops? Why not try a veg box?

>>> Wayside Organics deliver every Thursday to Southsea and if you specify they will send their veg WITHOUT plastic 🙌🙌

2. Reuse 

One of the biggest tips discussed involved making small but permanent changes to your everyday routine. 

>>> Have a coffee often but usually need to take it out? Why not invest in a reusable cup. I’ve spoken about this at length before, and we offer a 15% discount if you use your own cup to go. Many other independents offer a discount too, and most chains will also take money off your take out drink if you reuse.  

>>> refil your water bottle. I had no idea before talking to so many people about these issues that customers find it difficult to ask for their bottles to be refilled. I think that this trend has changed, and we personally find a lot more people asking for their bottles to be filled up. Of course we welcome this completely! Check out an app by refill.org to see where will fill up your bottle for you, and if your favourite cafe or restaurant isn’t on the map ask them to join! 

>>> Carry a Tupperware and/or reusable bag. Ask for your goods/products to be put into your own bag and container. Most places will do this if asked, even supermarketsa wil fill up your own tubs at their deli containers. 

3. Make small lifestyle changes. 

Try eating in rather than taking out. Sarah discussed the impact of her plastic free journey on her life, and one of the biggest effects has been on her wellbeing, through switching eating on the go to stopping for lunch and eating in, she has gained time for herself and positively impacted her wellbeing. 

4. Home changes

Cleaning products were discussed and tips given onto how these can be less wasteful.  

>>> Wild Thyme offers a bio-D range of cleaning products, and you can take your own container in to refill some of the range.

>>> Natural alternatives for cleaning products were discussed; some people use vinegar, tea tree oil even the rinds of orange and grapefruit have been soaked to create natural cleaning oils. 

5. Beauty

Lots of people were interested in how Sarah had overcome the use of plastic in beauty and personal healthcare products. 

>>> Lush’s deodorant bars came recommended from a few people, and now a whole selection of zero packaging products under their naked” range. 

>>> the natural deodorant company (naturaldeoco.com) were mentioned for their natural vegan deodorants which come in reusable glass jars.

>>> there was discussion of bamboo products, as now you can get bamboo toothbrushes, ear buds, reusable cotton pads for washing, charcoal dental floss. The world of zero waste products has opened up. One place to start browsing is  https://www.plasticsfree.co.uk/bathroom

 >>> need sanitary protection? Try switching to mooncup -a soft reusable silicone menstrual cup.... many people swear by them as a healthy effective (and plastic waste free!) alternative to mainstream sanitary products.

6. Kids

At one point Claire discussed how as a parent she had managed to reduce waste, with her kids party’s. I absolutely loved the idea that instead of party bags, kids make something at the party and take it home with them, or are given seeds to grow once they get home.   

I think its’ amazing what solutions we discover when we realise that plastic is a problem ✌️ 

7. Recycle

We also discussed where and how people can get rid of waste that you may not be able to reuse personally, and just how complicated the different recycling schemes and waste management services can seem! What to put where?!!

Tamara has written a VERY comprehensive guide to this over at green Pompey. I’m just going to link to it, and let you read about all the different bins and services that we have on the island. There are LOADS more than you may think and if you have any specific questions I’d suggest reading the comments as your questions may have already been answered. 

www.greenpompey.org.uk

 

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phew!  

There was SO much discussed and so many friendly faces that I left the shop feeling super inspired. I often suffer a little by thinking that nothing I/we do (them especially as a business) is good enough, this event made me realise that we’re not all perfect; and no one is going to judge if you buy something in plastic, or do not get everything right al the time.

The biggest idea that I took away from the event was that any steps in the right direction are good ones, and that through nurturing a dialogue and discussing these issues and ideas we can help each other find solutions and help others on their waste free journeys. This in mind below is a list of resources and groups, so that if you’d want to reach out, get some advice/support or just come and meet other like minded people over a cuppa or beer then come and join in the party!

 

Green Drinks
 
a monthly meet up at 7.30pm on the second Wednesday on the month.
 
(often meet in a pub, March and April 2018 has been at our shop).

Portsmouth Green Drinks (facebook page with information on the meet ups) 

 

Plastic Free Portsmouth  - local tips to reduce plastic
A campaign aiming to earn Portsmouth Plastic Free Community status under the surfers against sewage scheme, follow this page to get involved and help.

Five objectives need to be met:
1. Local governance (the council to commit to support and plastic free alternatives and encourage initiatives)
2. Local Business (at least 46 local businesses to remove at least 3 single use plastic items from their shops).
3. Plastic Free Allies (the community to spread the word and adopt plastic free changes)
4. On the ground action (holding community events to help reduce plastic on the shorelines and beach).
5. Local Strategic Group (a group of local stakeholders to meet at least once per year to agree and set the direction and meet the objectives).

page set up for us to share tips on where we can reduce our need for plastic in Portsmouth.

Plastic Free Portsmouth  (facebook page)

 

Zero Waste Portsmouth 
 A community group created by individuals willing to reduce their carbon footprint. They host monthly meet ups - check OOut their facebook group for more details,. 

Zero Waste Portsmouth UK - Discussion Group

 

Beach Cleans
 There are numerous beach cleans happening around Southsea and Hayling and beyond. These are a good event to attend to see the consequence of plastic use and be pro-active in helping to clear up. 

Check out the Southsea Beachwatch facebook page, where they announce beach cleans and also ones organised by others such as surfers against sewage.  

Southsea Beachwatch (facebook page) 

 

Share Waste
 A community compost group for food waste (receiving and giving to others compost!). 

www.sharewaste.com

 

The next green drinks is this Wednesday at 7.30pm.  

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Latte Levy and Paper cups.

When Parliment’s Environment Audit Committee published a report stating that fewer than 1 in 400 take out coffee cups are recycled.; and suggested the introduction of a “latte levy” (25p charge per take out cup) it created a storm within our industry. 

I asked on social media:

What are your thoughts on paper cup tax?

Although we were already using compostable cups, lids, straws and boxes, we were interested in what our customers thought about the proposed latte levy; as being greener is a big drive for us over 2018.

 

We asked

>>>> do you think the government should encourage more people to reuse by charging a covert tax?

and

 >>>> where does ultimate responsibility lie? Government, business or consumer?

 

The resulting conversation was fascinating and showed a broad spectrum of ideas which I’ve rounded up below (alongside some industry commentary on the topic too) 👇

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MONEY TALKS

Many felt that although we should reuse; until our hand is forced (by money or otherwise) we do not change our lifestyle. 

Most who commented on our post supported a levy on single use cups, citing plastic bag tax has demonstrated we will change our ways if forced (plastic bag use has gone down circa 80pc with the 5p tax).

>>>> this is an economic theory of loss aversion, and is explained neatly here

Is this a simple answer to the problem? 

Possibly not, as although the consumer would be paying more, and many may end up reusing their own cups, there could be unplanned consequences for many shops, specifically within smaller independent speciality coffee venues.

United Baristas responded to the news of the latte levy with a neat blog (see here) detailing the economics of most coffee shops operating from sites with an A1 basis (and therefore dependent upon take out sales to remain within the law). The proposed levy could see many of these sites breaking the law, and as such having to close.

Potentially the businesses that try the hardest environmentally would be the ones closing, rather than the big boys. 

 

... THE BIG BOYS

Some commented on a practice seen in some of the larger chains whereby ONLY paper cups are available, even if you are drinking in.

Claire neatly emphasised this point by describing New York:

“This scale of this issue hit me last month on a trip to NYC with over 340 Starbucks in manhattan alone and no “drink in” mug options there were literally thousands of coffee cups being discarded every minute. Everywhere I looked there were paper cups in bins or being held by people for a few short moments before being thrown away.

Heartbreaking”

Wow. See previous point above 👆 

 

 BUT ARE COMPOSTABLES THE ANSWER?

At our shop we use compostable or recyclable cups, straws and take out consumables as standard. As a business this costs us more to do, but we feel that this is a better alternative than single use plastic.  

The issue, which was outlined by the steering committees suggestion of a latte levy is that many of the cups being used are not able to be recycled. If the cups are replaced by environmentally friendly products then would this be the answer to the problem?

Perhaps, yet these are not without their own issues. We found that many of our customers were not aware that our cups were even compostable in the first place, and those that did know were not always able to dispose of them correctly. If these cups end up with normal waste, is there any point in using them? 

 

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LOCAL AUTHORITY.

Does this mean the problem lies within a lack of government/local authority response to the waste issue. With a changing society do they need to provide different waste collection solutions. I find it crazy that you can go to other cities or countries and they provide sperate waste bins on street as standard. England has been behind on this issue for many years.

Dean stated that:

If a council can't provide waste paper cup recycling bins on the high street then that borough has no business applying any sort of tax to paper cups.”

George said that we needed to ensure that consumers were disposing of cups correctly, and even more importantly that councils had a responsibility to ensure there are adequate bins/collection points:

“Businesses can only go so far, the rest is in the hands of others.” 

 

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE

We found that as many supported a levy on single use cups; most also supported this with compostable cups, stating that there should be an additional tax on all single use packaging items. 

The aim should be for all to reduce, reuse and recycle.  

Some people went even further by saying there should be an outright ban on single use cups; e.g. unless you bring your own cup then you shouldn’t be allowed to have a take out coffee.

In an ideal world, that is surely the ultimate aim and with a breadth of reusable cup companies out there, from keep cup to frank green there is a reusable cup to suit all budgets. 

 

OUR STANCE

We do support some form of tax on take out paper cups, but believe that this should be extended to all single use items that are not able to be recycled or composted. For us, this includes supermarket plastic waste (which is in our eyes a bigger problem)

We believe that there should be better waste infrastructure to enable consumers to deal with waste appropriately and that cups should have disposal information on them.

Mostly we believe in promoting a reuse culture. For us, this is where we should be, and where the aim has to be.  

Sure, they are a little clunky to carry around, but most of us carry a bag that will fit a cup in it. (And most importantly) coffee tastes so much better when not drunk from a paper cup ✌️

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Following on from this conversation we increased our discount for using a “reusable cup” from 10% to 15%. We are now looking at other ways to promote less waste within our community and are very excited to have the support of Clare Seek and others who are doing so much in the local community. 

On Tuesday 13th February after some lobbying from local green groups Portsmouth council passed a motion to work towards become a plastic free city. More information of the campaign can be found as it develops  here 

 

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RAW FOOD

Back in February I discussed how this year nourishing food was poised to have its moment. As I look around I see more and more food establishments offering nutritious twists on classics and menu items such as overnight oats, energy balls and smashed avocado. Healthy food looks like it is here to stay, and indeed the top food trends forecasted for 2017 are centred in health and wellness. One of these predictions is raw, which is something I often get asked about; so here are the reasons why I love raw food.

Often associated with plant based (vegan) cuisine, raw foods are sometimes referred to as living and are usually not heated to above 41 degrees. Keeping food raw is thought to help its nutrients, enzymes and vitamins remain intact and therefore be beneficial for our overall wellbeing. For me, it is also deeply tasty; fresh food tastes good.

As a food producer I believe that we have a responsibility to prepare foods that not only taste and look good, but also nourish and from a professional viewpoint, raw food can help bridge this gap between culinary art and nutrition. It excites me that new techniques are being developed all the time and it is possible to create raw crackers, pates, ice cream and even jam (yes, really).

My favourite raw food – cake has been having its moment for a while. Raw cakes use replacement ingredients that nourish our bodies; for example cashews or macadamia nuts can be soaked and blended in place of cheese to create “cheezecakes”; caramels can be made from dates and flours from seeds. What is not to like, when a cake tastes great, provides you with good fat and proteins and leaves you feeling sustained without the sugar crash? Never has the term have your cake and eat it been so apt.

Minimally processed fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds can help to support overall better health and also happen to taste incredible when prepared with the right ingredients and skills; but don’t despair if you are not in a professional kitchen as it is easy to incorporate more raw foods into your diet (and most of us do this without even realising). Add salads and simple uncooked sides to your main meals, try a juice or smoothie; eat fresh fruit and you will be on your way in no time at all.

 

This was published in Southsea Lifestyle - November 2016