World Refill Day calls for less waste but supermarkets are selling produce in plastic


Natalie Fee, founder of green charity City to Sea said: “Customers are rightly upset at having to choose between cost to their wallets and cost to the planet. We know that the public still care about plastic pollution and want to do more but retailers and brands just aren’t making it accessible or affordable for us.”

“We need big brands, businesses & retailers to take action to prevent plastic pollution by reducing their use of single-use packaging and investing in reuse and refill systems. 

“And we need governments around the world to hold them to account”.

World Refill Day today (THURS), calls on people to live with less waste and to find ways to refill and reuse on a budget.

Shoppers are now finding it harder to make sustainable choices, with 40 per cent saying it is the biggest barrier to them reducing their use of single-use plastics.

Almost two thirds of those surveyed (63 percent) said they felt frustrated (31 percent), powerless (21 percent) or angry (11 percent) about the amount of plastic that comes with their weekly shop.

Bianca Jagger, human rights activist, said: “The overproduction and consumption of single-use plastic is causing a global environmental and humanitarian crisis that impacts everyone. 

“Plastic production and disposal, especially via incineration or landfill, disproportionately affects poor and indigenous communities by polluting the air, water, and soil that we need to survive.”

Here are 7 tips for how you can save some money and the planet:

  1. Find free drinking water when you’re out and about. In the UK, we have some of the safest drinking water in the world – we should be proud of that and not spend our hard-earned cash on polluting single-use plastic water bottles which are often transported halfway across the world.

  2. Use coffee cup discounts. Costa, M&S and Starbucks take 25p off and Pret take a brilliant 50p off when you bring a reusable cup. 

  3. Spice it up. Herbs and spices are often vastly cheaper at zero waste shops: by over 50% in some cases – and you can buy the exact amount you need. Save on the waste and save on the packaging!

  4. Buy veg naked – why do so many shops put perfectly good vegetables in plastic wrapping? Check out your greengrocer, local market or even find a local veg box.

  5. Make your own lunch.Make your own sandwich or pack some of last night’s leftovers for lunch rather than buying those plastic covered sandwiches and packets of crisps.

  6. Go plastic free and reusable on nappies and period products – some local authorities offer starter packs or discounts on reusable nappies. There is the initial outlay on reusables but swapping from tampons to a cup or periods pants for example, could save £1,500 and also remove plastic and period products from our waterways and oceans. 

  7. Swap to solid shampoo bars – These little bars are a great alternative to liquid shampoos. They last for ages and are great to pack for the gym or travelling. 

COMMENT BY NATALIE FEE

Who thought it was a good idea to wrap a coconut in plastic? Because someone at Sainburys did. Yes, that’s right, they were selling hard shelled coconuts wrapped in plastic.

It rightly left shoppers furious. We’re all here trying to do our bit for the planet, and they were wrapping something that comes naturally in its own packaging in pointless plastic.

It’s not just Sainsburys though. Marks and Spencer’s thought it was a good idea to cut cauliflowers into steaks and wrap them in plastic. This madness has to stop. We need to move away from wrapping everything in single-use plastic.

And that’s what World Refill Day is about. It’s about helping people find simple ways to live with less waste and uniting us all behind the shared goal of tackling plastic pollution by calling out the big brands and businesses that continue to see us their plastic wrapped products!

Not by banging on about recycling, but asking the more basic questions. Why do we need so much plastic in the first place? And how do we move away from single use to reuse and refill?

This World Refill Day, we coordinated an open letter to the CEOs of the 5 biggest plastic producers (Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co, Nestle, Unilever and Procter and Gamble) calling on them to start taking some responsibility for the mess they’ve created.

They need to be honest about how much plastic they pump out, be ambitious about reducing that, and be creative in switching from single-use packaging to reusable.

The letter was signed by over 400 organisations showing just how important it is that they act! Let’s see if they listen.

Coca-Cola recently said that 25% of its packaging was going to be refillable by 2030. This is important as they currently pump out over 200,000 single-use plastic bottles EVERY MINUTE and are, for the fourth year in a row, the biggest plastic polluter in the world.

I just hope they deliver on this refill promise better than they have on previous eco-promises!

While organisations such as City to Sea continue to demand the big brands and polluters take action, there’s loads that we as individuals can all be doing too.

Start by downloading the free Refill app which tells you where you can find places to eat, drink and shop with less waste (from free drinking water, to discounts on hot drinks if you bring a reusable mug, to zero-waste shops offering everything you need without the packaging you really don’t).

We’re all doing our bit, and times are tough at the moment. But we know that us Brits are ready for change, we’re sick of supermarkets and brands forcing us to fill our baskets with pointless packaging.

World Refill Day is an opportunity for us to let them know we want to see action. Together, we are powerful and together we can them know that we need to make sure these eco-solutions are affordable and accessible to all

  • Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea





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