As packaging specialists, and very conscious consumers, we are acutely aware of the impact of packaging on the environment. It’s a daily topic of conversation with both clients and colleagues alike as we keep in touch with consumer trends and the big brands’ efforts to help the environment.

Particularly topical is Ocean Plastic. Over 8 million tons of plastic waste finds its way into the oceans each year (!), resulting in five huge plastic gyres (ocean currents) around the world, and considerable damage to marine life. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050!

In a response to this, we’ve been admiring P&G’s bold stance on Ocean Plastic, with their launch of their Fairy detergent in a bottle made from 100% recycled plastic and ocean plastic. A message they are proudly communicating on pack. The innovative bottle will be made from 10% ocean plastic, collected from the ocean and beaches around the world, and 90% post-consumer recycled plastic. The project aims to drive awareness of the issue of ocean plastic pollution, inspire consumers to physically participate in beach clean-ups and recycle household waste. Great work P&G!

Other brands like Nestlé, and Coca-Cola are starting to take the issue seriously too and making steps towards a fully recycled product. In fact PepsiCo purchases almost half of all bottle grade rPET sold in the United States. Interestingly, Pepsi doesn’t promote this on its labels. One reason is they can’t guarantee the exact amount in each batch of bottles due to limited supply. “There isn’t enough rPET available. If there was more on the market we could put more in.”

So what can we do to help? Well, the obvious is to recycle our plastic. Be sure to rinse before recycling; the cleaner the plastic is, the easier it is to reincarnate it as something new.But even before getting to the recycling stage, think about re-using it first. Anything resealable can make very handy pots for things like overnight oats or dinner leftovers.

Here are some more tips to live a little bit more plastic-wary;

FIND YOUR FAVE REUSABLES.

The easiest way to reduce plastic bottle usage is to take a bottle of water with you. In the car, out shopping. Having a favourite water bottle that’s the right size, colour, that you enjoy using is a fun way to encourage reusables. In the office our faves are Chillys and Camelbak. We’re also big fans of KeepCups for on-the-go flat whites and coffee-shop trips. Check out the cork ones – super stylish!  (EXTRA TIP – Be sure to handwash your reusables though, there have been a few upsets with dishwashers here!)

KEEP A BAG IN HAND.

Keep a fold up bag in your handbag and larger grocery bags in your car, even if you don’t plan to shop, they always come in handy. Take a bag with you when clothes shopping too. Even though lots of shops provide recyclable paper bags these days, saying no to a shop bag is even better.

MAKE A PLAN, STAN.

Plan your grocery shopping – shopping with a list will mean you’re less likely to buy things you don’t need, saving you money too. Plan to use your leftovers and keep a close eye on expiration dates when you’re shopping to avoid food (and plastic packaging) wastage. Buy larger packs of cupboard staples like pasta and rice and you’ll be using less packaging too.

LOCAL LOVE.

At Greenhouse we LOVE farmers markets. In Cork we’re lucky to have The English Markets and Mahon Point Farmers Market on our doorstep, plus lots of other local farmers markets dotted around Cork. Markets are simply the best way to trial local produce, reducing air-miles, encourage organic producers and find exciting new artisan producers. You can also pick just the right amount of fruit and vegetables reducing food wastage and packaging, just be sure to have your tote bags to hand!

BEWARE OF THE WASH.

Clean safely – beware of the bleach – a lot of common household cleaning products can hurt the environment as well as your health. Look out for non-toxic cleaning products and eco-friendly products next time you’re shopping. Also avoid exfoliating shower gels and face washes with tiny particles of plastic in them; they’re contributing to the Ocean Plastic problem too.

LOOSELY DOES IT.

Another topical subject in the office – teabags! Try using loose leaf tea to cut down on the plastic from teabags going back into the environment. At least until bio-degradable teabags become commonplace like Co-Op are trying to do.    

SMART CHOICES.

Glass and paper are more readily recycled, so when faced with options choose paper or glass packaged products over plastic packaged alternatives. The world will thank you for it!

– By Naomi Simpson