Way back before Christmas we decided we’d try a week of going plastic free. It’s a hard time of year to give it a go but as a team we felt pretty committed and have since decided to extend this as part of our working practices. As a result, we’ve had more conversations with each other, bumped into colleagues on our hunt for alternatives and chatted to surrounding businesses about our quest. We’re still finding ways to navigate the hurdles though, and we’ll be updating our progress as we go.
Plastic was first developed in 1907 but it wasn’t until recently when scientists started to find micro plastic pollution in food that the urge to reduce the amount of plastic have become so topical (think what an impact Blue Planet has had). What was an easy and cheap commodity after the Second World War, being practical and mouldable, is now under the magnifying glass for the environmental impacts it creates. In 2015 it was estimated that the amount of plastic accumulated from land in to the sea was eight million tonnes.
Since the airing of David Attenborough’s aforementioned Blue Planet II, the number of news items related to plastic has dramatically increased; the public is concerned. And of course, so are we. After many discussions and preparation, we have decided to keep using some plastic objects, even if admittedly we were very tempted in stop using our computers, pens, phones. But single use plastic has got to go. Working in a busy office means we do rely a lot on convenience. How we were going to be able to cope if our takeaway coffees and lunches where gone? Coffee was an easy win. We’re staking up the 20/50p discounts we often receive for bring our reusable cups in, which is always a good start to the day. Some internet searching pointed us in the direction of helpful blogs dedicated to a plastic free life, and we embarked on a exciting journey of discoveries that we shared between ourselves on a daily basis.
We celebrated when we found local green grocers, cheese mongers, milkmen, bulk-buy markets, cafes and restaurants where we able to buy food free from plastic wrapping. We were surprised to find many companies are dedicated to producing plastic free object such as toothbrushes, Tupperware, sponges, toys, shoes, etc. We started to cherish even more the creative people behind start-ups committed to develop natural materials to replace plastic.
But how relevant is this to the fashion industry? Apart from many objects mentioned above for meetings, events, etc. The fashion industry relies heavily on polyester, nylon, acrylic and other synthetic fabrics. It is estimated that 60% of our clothes are made using polyester, and just a cycle of washing of a single piece of clothing can generate up to 700,000 fibres that can reach rivers and seas. The IUCN estimates that 35% of micro plastics come from washing synthetic textiles. Additionally, hundreds of bags and packaging are used in the industry. Unlike other materials, most plastics can only be recycled twice, so eventually most plastics ended up in landfilled. Moreover, many packaging has a mix of materials making them unable to be recycled.
We are just beginning our plastic free journey of discovery but already it’s impacting on how we work and ways in which we think about fashion and sustainability.