Nearly 6,000 people across the UK, close to 300 in Scotland, signed up to the Plastic Free Friday pledge and tried to do without single-use plastic last Friday.  If you were buying fruit and veg at your local wholefood shop or you just stayed home all day, having a Plastic Free Friday wasn’t too hard.  But if you were having a normal kind of day you probably found it surprising how much plastic there is around us all the time.

It’s easy to carry your own water bottle rather than buying plastic bottles of stuff that probably comes out of the tap anyway.  The big coffee chains are feeling the pressure and allowing people to bring their own cup.  But try having a cup of tea on a train and you’ll find a plastic cup and lid, a plastic stirrer and those ridiculous tiny portions of milk in plastic packaging!

We have created a 10 top tips to help you reduce the amount of plastic you end up with, and we’re collecting more tips from people who are taking part in #PlasticFreeFriday, so keep watching that page for new ideas or send us in your own.

Avoiding single-use plastic is an interesting challenge, you may even develop life-long new habits because you’re thinking about it more.  But it only makes a bigger difference if people know you are doing it.  From refusing the straw offered in a café to challenging supermarkets on how they package their goods, consumer pressure can make a move organisations to action.

Power of collective action

Harnessing our power as a group is vital.  By signing up to the Plastic Free Friday pledge you are giving us power to tell retailers, producers and the government that real people want change.  And we’ll be coming back to you when the time is right to ask for your help in getting even more fundamental change.

Our work on plastics is in the context of our Fossil Free Scotland campaign.  About 90% of all plastic is made from fossil fuels and 40% of that ends up as packaging, most of that doing just one journey from shop to bin, and only a recycling bin in the minority of cases.  We’ve banned fracking in Scotland but gas from fracking in the US is still coming to Grangemouth to be turned into yet more plastic.

Public pressure has already led to change, with the Scottish Government planning to ban plastic cotton bud sticks and plastic straws.  These are small but highly symbolic moves and we’ll be supporting them when the Government consults the wider public.

In Scotland we are also going to see a Deposit and Return Scheme on drinks’ bottles and cans.  We’ve been part of the campaign to get that commitment and now we’ve got to make sure we set up a scheme that really works, so that plastic bottle recycling rockets to over 90%.

Diagram of the circular economy from WRAP
Moving to a circular economy

We are also promised a Circular Economy Act – new laws that could make a huge difference to how things are made and what happens to them at the end of their lives.  Again, we’ll be asking all those who’ve taken the Plastic Free Friday pledge to join us in calling for maximum ambition when the proposals are made public.

Please join us in combatting our addiction to plastic.  If you haven’t already, please sign the Plastic Free Friday pledge and help us change Scotland’s relationship with plastic and other waste.