There’s no escaping the amount of plastic that is around us and even for the most plastic conscious among us, it can feel almost impossible to avoid it all. So we asked about 100 people who have taken our Plastic Free Friday pledge to do a short survey. We wanted to learn about what people are doing to cut the pointless plastic out of your life as well as what struggles you have faced along the way.

How have you found it?

Firstly, we asked people how they have found cutting down on plastic. The majority of people answered that they had either found it quite difficult or really difficult, with 12 people finding it easy and just one person saying it was so difficult that they gave up.

What bothers you most about plastic pollution? 

When we asked about what bothers the most about plastic pollution, a lot of people answered “Everything”! Many others named the negative effects on wildlife and the marine environment as the main reasons why they disliked plastic. Here are some of the other reasons people gave:

  • Plastics are made from fossil fuels. Many companies, such as INEOS are using fracked gas to provide a source of raw materials for plastic. 
  • The way that plastic has got into the food chain including the fact that we humans are poisoning not only ourselves but marine life and other animals too.
  • Plastic bottles containing drinking water. Totally unnecessary in this country. Take a drink from the tap!
  • When you don’t get the choice in a supermarket. E.g. only soft drinks in 500ml bottles on meal deals when a 330 ml cans would be fine. Also six apples in a plastic bag for £2, but individual apples are 50p each in supermarkets. There’s no incentive to reduce plastic.
  • We are encouraged to recycle plastics, but we do not know for sure where and how they are recycled and if it is done properly.
Supermarket food wrapped in plastic
Supermarket food wrapped in plastic. Credit: Friends of the Earth Scotland

Which aspect of reducing plastic use have you found the hardest?

When it comes to reducing plastic there are lots of hurdles to get over. Plastic is very convenient and cheap, and often sourcing out alternative products is not easy if you don’t have access to plastic free shops. Plus, some items in the supermarket only come wrapped in plastic, which was one of the most common answers to this question. Other reasons why our supporters felt it was hard to reduce plastic included:

  • Not knowing what I can and cannot recycle.
  • Hidden plastic wrapping inside paper boxes.
  • I’m older and I live alone so I often eat ready meals. I eat a lot of yoghurt and it all comes in plastic.
  • I prefer to buy organic fruit and veg because I also believe in reducing harmful chemicals in the environment but sadly the organic veg is never loose but always segregated in plastic. I do get an organic veg box but even they package salads and leafy greens in plastic.

What more would you be willing to do to get rid of plastic pollution in Scotland?

It was really encouraging to see people responding positively to this question! 40 people wanted to attend local meetings on plastic pollution in their area, and another 40 wanted to talk to their local politicians about it.

Both these actions are vital this year as we will be campaigning for a strong and ambitious Circular Economy Bill which will help to tackle our overconsumption of resources, including plastic. 

Get more involved in our plastic campaigning this year

Here are some of the other ways people wanted to help which may inspire your own actions:

  • Email supermarkets and demand that they cut down on plastic now.
  • Campaign against companies that use single-use plastic and those that produce them.
  • I already carry out regular beach and roadside cleans, picking up plastic and metal bottles and cans. 

Check out this blog full of great tips from our Plastic Free Pledgers to inspire you to cut your plastic consumption.