Over the last few months we’ve had so much else to worry about that plastic pollution has taken a back seat. But the problem hasn’t gone away, so perhaps now is the time to take action again.

As government advice on the places where we need to wear facemasks widens from public transport to inside shops, we need to reject disposable face mask options. Lots of local people are making masks out of scrap materials, and retailers are now selling washable, biodegradable masks, which do not cause unnecessary waste.

As it is ‘Plastic Free July’ it would be a good idea to try and find an alternative to one or two regular items that are packed in single-use plastic in your weekly shop. This months’ picture shows a week’s waste for a single person, sorted according to whether the waste can be recycled at the kerbside. This self audit was done over a year ago and resulted in the person gradually making changes to reduce their plastic consumption. Start with one change and see how far it takes you on your plastic free journey.

It is not always easy to find a substitute for some plastic wrapped items, like crisps. Local charities and schools offer collection points for some of these plastics, in return for rewards, from a specialist recycling scheme provided by Terracycle. The central collection point for local charity Terracycle collections is now ‘out of lockdown’ and can be found in Letchworth Arcade, supported by Bamboo Turtle – Letchworth’s zero waste shop.

It is good to see local coffee shops opening up again with some happy to fill a reusable cup. At first it was thought that it was unsafe to fill up a customer’s own reusable cup, but we now know that it is just as easy and safe as supplying throwaway cups (#contactlesscoffee).

Did you know that it takes 250ml of oil and 3 litres of water to make one litre of bottled water? If you don’t like tap water, try filtering it and fill up a glass bottle and put it in the fridge. You then have lovely cold water whenever you need it. Use a metal insulated water bottle to carry it around with you and the water will stay cold for hours even on a hot day.

Finally, with local schools asking children to bring pack lunches when they return in September, why not use the summer to perfect your plastic free picnic. It’s a challenge, but one which is worth doing; re-usable containers are Ok even if they are plastic. You can share your Plastic Free July successes on the ’Plastic Free Letchworth’ facebook page so they can inspire others.

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