Five ways you can join us in the fight against plastic

Pink Bottles of washing detergent wash up on Poldhu

We all have a special connection to forests, rivers and beaches, but the places we love and the animals that live there are threatened by plastic pollution. The good news is that we can all do something about it.

Spending time in beautiful landscapes is one of the best ways to unwind. It's in these places that we see incredible wildlife, share time with family and friends or find peace and quiet. 

But we need your help to make sure the places we love to escape to remain special. Work with us to stop the tide of plastic waste from overwhelming precious landscapes and vulnerable wildlife. Every single piece of plastic ever created still exists in some form today, and a huge amount of it is choking oceans and washing up on shores.  

The good news is that governments, retailers and individuals are starting to take action.

We've made a commitment to stop selling single-use plastics by 2022 and have already taken a number of positive steps to cut plastic waste. These include banning plastic bags in 275 of our shops and ensuring all disposable food and drink packaging is made from biodegradable materials. 

Kicking the plastic habit isn't always easy so we've come up with five top tips to help you cut plastic waste. 

 

Ray Mears was one of a number of celebrities that made nature pledges at Countryfile Live

1. Make a pledge

It's not easy to entirely eliminate plastic from our lives but everyone can do their bit. Whether you get your milk delivered, carry a reusable coffee cup, or use plates instead of cling film to cover leftovers, there are a number of small ways you can reduce your monthly plastic consumption. Set yourself a challenge to collect all the non-recyclable plastic items you use in a month and then work out what you can avoid. You’ll be surprised just how much you collect in one month.

We asked people attending Countryfile Live 2018 to make nature pledges. Among them were a number of celebrities. Radio and television presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff promised to ‘consume less’ and ‘give more back’, while BBC wildlife presenter Lizzie Daly promised to do more beach cleans.

Spring daffodils in pots

2. Be creative

Think of new uses for plastic items you would normally throw away. Rugs and table mats can be woven from plastic bags, and takeaway boxes are a handy alternative to tupperware. You can even make a hanging basket for your plants out of an old colander. Our team at Hardcastle Crags in West Yorkshire has been teaching people how to make bird feeders out of plastic bottles. We love this idea because it reduces plastic waste and looks after wildlife.

Gifts made from recycled materials are fun, quirky and good for the environment. We sell a range of pots made out of recycled plastic, carbon neutral logs created from waste coffee grounds at our cafes and even a duck sculpture made from old fridges. Look out for plant pots made out of biodegradable materials. Some of our places also sell coir plant pots, which can be planted straight into the ground. 

Volunteers beach cleaning on The Lizard

3. Join a beach clean 

Seeing your favourite beach covered in litter really brings home the threat plastic pollution poses to our oceans and the wildlife they support. Have you ever wanted to give back to the coastal places you love? Why not join one of our regular beach cleans?

It’s not too late to join the plastic revolution, so grab a litter picker and turn a beach near you back into a paradise spot.

Marine litter on a beach

4. Challenge and ask questions

We all have the power to stem the flow of plastic into our lives, and challenging the plastic we're confronted with makes a difference. Many of the UK’s biggest retailers are taking environmentally friendly measures after feedback from their customers.

Is the plastic item non-recyclable or unnecessary? How satisfied are you with your local council’s recycling service? Local authority recycling schemes can vary from street to street. Approach your council if you need clarity on what items can be recycled or you want to know how much of your recycling will actually end up in landfill.

A pile of seasonal produce dug up from a vegetable patch

5. Grow your own veg 

While some supermarkets are reintroducing paper bags for fruit and veg, it is still very common to see cucumbers, bananas, tomatoes, chopped apples, avocados, and broccoli covered in a plastic wrapper. The best way to avoid this type of packaging is grow your own veg, fruit and herbs.

Home grown produce is free from nasty fertilisers and tastes amazing. There's also something magical about going shopping in your own back garden. Even those with small gardens can grow herbs in window boxes and potatoes, carrots, beetroot and tomatoes in raised beds. Our kitchen gardens are brimming with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Discover how to create a garden that provides food all year round.

Keeping coastlines clean

Find out what we're doing to kick the plastic habit and discover how you're helping to care for more than 775 miles of coastline.