‘We need to reject disposable face masks’ – Transition Town Letchworth

An audit which shows an average weekly consumption of plastic. Picture: TTL

An audit which shows an average weekly consumption of plastic. Picture: TTL - Credit: Archant

Over the last few months we’ve had so much 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 face coverings expands from public transport to all shops, we need to reject disposable face masks. Lots of local people are making masks out of scrap materials, and retailers are now selling biodegradable masks which don’t cause unnecessary waste.

In keeping with ‘Plastic Free July’, it would also be a good idea to find alternatives to single-use plastics in your weekly shop. The above 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 making gradual reductions to their plastic consumption. Start small, and see how far it takes you on your plastic free journey.

It’s not always easy to find a substitute for plastic wrapped items, like crisps. Local charities and schools offer collection points in return for rewards, via a specialist recycling scheme provided by Terracycle.

The central collection point can be found in Letchworth Arcade, and is supported by Bamboo Turtle – Letchworth’s zero waste shop.

And did you know it takes 250ml of oil and three litres of water to make up one litre of bottled water? If you don’t like tap water, try filtering it and filling up a refridgerated glass bottle. You then have lovely cold water whenever you need it. Use a metal insulated bottle and the water will stay cold for hours.

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Meanwhile, it is good to see local coffee shops opening up again after lockdown, with many now happy to fill a reusable cup. With COVID-19 around, at first it was thought to be unsafe to fill up a customer’s reusable cup, but we now know it is just as easy and safe as supplying throwaway cups.

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. Reusable containers are OK even if they are plastic.

You can share your Plastic Free July successes on the ’Plastic Free Letchworth’ Facebook page to inspire others.

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