A record breaking 44 people attended TTL’s Tuesday talk this week. Plastic is hot news at the moment!
After an introduction to the topic giving a global overview and a description of what happens to our recycling waste, the attendees gathered into groups to explore the issues of: Reduce, Re-use / Repurpose, Recycle and Influencing.


The ideas which came up were many and varied, some useful, others amusing! Well. you can’t be serious all the time!

Here are some of them:
  • REDUCE:  in the home, use glass for containers and wood for things such as chopping boards and stirring spoons;  instead of clingfilm use plates and saucers to cover bowls in the fridge or beeswax cloths available on-line or a self sealing lid from Zealcook.com; when shopping choose loose fruit and veg where possible and buy glass bottles of liquids instead of plastic ones.( e.g. fizzy water, cooking oil)
  • REUSE: many uses for the empty lemonade bottle, from reuse as a water bottle or freezing your crop of apple juice, to using in the garden as a bird scarer, a waterer, a plastic plant collar or a bird seed scoop. Similarly, gardeners found uses for the plastic punnets too, as seed trays.Some multi sectioned trays would make good paint palletes, or to store store small items separately in drawers. The plastic straws could find a new life in craft work or annoy the adults as pea/lentil shooters! Or even make percussion instruments.
  • RECYCLE:  this group had a bagful of plastic junk to sort into the relevant purple or grey bin. Some puzzles here! John was on hand to provide a leaflet from  North Herts. District Council and some good advice–if in doubt, throw it out (purple bin). Best not to contaminate a load for recycling. Basically, it’s the shape that matters rather than the plastic ID number–containers are OK.
  • INFLUENCING: this group raised some interesting ideas which we could investigate and take forward, either individually or in a working party.
  1. Social media–share your ideas and discoveries of alternatives to plastic products. Join the facebook group ‘plasticfreefantastic’
  2. When shopping, leave excess packaging in the shop and tell them why you are doing it
  3. Always ask for paper bags if you need them and refuse plastic ones–take your own with you.
  4. Develop a TTL ‘good practice’ sticker for shops, takeaways and cafes who are making an effort?
  5. Encourage local coffee bars to have a loyalty scheme or offer a reduction to customers who take their own cups (some places in London already offer 50p off a coffee if you bring your own cup)
  6. Encourage local businesses and cafes to advertise when they are making an effort–apparently the cafe in the Lister Hospital uses biodegradeable take-away packaging–who knew?
  7. Leave ‘calling cards’ in cafes etc with helpful information to get them thinking e.g. resouces page of ‘www.thelastplasticstraw.org
  8. Write to your MP to ask for standardisation of plastic packaging to aid national recycling – or eliminate it altogether.


Useful websites:
An “A to Z” directory of what you can recycle, c/o WasteAware: www.facebook.com/wasteawarepartnership
 Do get in touch with us if you have any other ideas or want to share your plastic-free experiences.



  1. Does anyone have a suggestion for non plastic alternatives for toothbrushes and washing up sponges? Neither are recyclable as I understand (but I’m happy to be put straight if this is not true!) Also I think there is an issue with food wrapping in supermarkets, in that wrapped veg, eg broccoli, often keeps for much longer than unwrapped broccoli. so – plastic is bad but does the reduction in food waste counteract this? Tricky to weigh up. A change in culture is perhaps necessary, if we all bought our veg the day we were going to eat it, and also walked to the greengrocers (which keeps us healthy – no driving everywhere then spending hours in the gym to get exercise, no polluting the air with petrol fumes and using up a non renewable resource) supporting a local business and not a vast chain shop… need I say more. Supermarkets do seem to be responsible for a lot of our problems: Farming in this country has been badly effected by the change in demographic from supply led to demand led, they grow more than is needed and throw the less than perfect veg away (are we growing too much? Is food too cheap? Is it farm subsides that are to blame?) Destroying the soil in the process! Its all a bit topsy turvey. Supermarkets selling milk for less than it costs to produce! Whats going on there? What would happen if we banned all plastic? Humans are ingenious – we would find a solution!