News & Insights

Read and share Parliament Hill insights and news on the tips, trends, and key developments we’ve identified for benefit management and member satisfaction.

Plastic Free Week

Plastic is used so much in our daily lives, that we can sometimes forget how much we actually use and rely on it.

This is becoming an increasingly worrying problem as more and more plastic is being produced, with the UK creating more plastic waste per person than almost any other country in the world.

With this issue becoming more concerning by the day, some of the team at Parliament Hill decided to reflect on our own actions and look at how we can reduce our plastic usage and subsequent waste. To do so, we dedicated a week to focusing on how we can make conscious decisions to avoid using plastic and make notes about our findings.

Becky’s Findings

Through the week I would usually purchase lunch for work, however it became clear that this was going to be challenging. Grabbing a quick bite wasn’t easy, as plastic packaging was used in most options such as sandwiches, salads and drinks. I knew that making packed lunches would help me to reduce my plastic intake so I decided to go ahead with this. Although my snack was in plastic wrapping my overall lunch had a reduced amount of plastic in comparison to what I would usually buy. Sticking to canned drinks was the easiest plastic free beverage to purchase, although most canned drinks were fizzy and not always the healthiest option. I did however find canned water which I had never bought before and led me to discovering that it was made from wonky fruit which helped towards the reduction of food waste.

Other findings I had was when I had to do my weekly shop. This was very difficult as most foods are sealed in plastic packaging. I decided to buy frozen fish one day as it was it cardboard packaging but I still had to purchase vegetables that were sealed in plastic. There were options of purchasing vegetables and meat from my local fruit and veg stands and butchers, but being organised and planning in advance was a must in order to achieve this. I did however discover that purchasing milk gave me an insight into a brand that sell their product with 70% less packaging that other milk bottles and created their product with sustainability at the forefront. From sustainably sourcing carton materials through to making sure their packaging is easy to fold and flatten for disposal at home, this is a brand I will definitely continue to use the future.

Even though I found it difficult avoiding plastic with my weekly shop, I did have a small win with my receipt from Lidl. I noticed it was different in colour, so it was a nice discovery to make when I turned it over and saw that it was made from recycled paper. Though this may seem small, these are the kinds of changes that can create a big impact on the environment.

Overall, my discoveries were that even though cutting out plastic completely can be very challenging, there are ways I could more mindful. Making a packed lunch, avoiding plastic bottles, swapping out a take away cup for a reusable cup and choosing to do some of my shopping from local fruit and meat vendors will be small changes that will make a big difference.

Aoife’s Findings

Our plastic free week coincided with a trip to Italy which meant that I couldn’t be in full control of purchasing/using less plastic. My hotel, however, listed all the steps that it takes to be more sustainable on their webpage, and I did notice a difference in the amount of packaging and unnecessary single use items left in the room – for example there were refillable soap and body wash dispensers in the bathroom, and breakfast had to be pre-ordered to ensure there was no food waste which you would usually see at hotel breakfast buffets.

I also made the conscious decision to bring my reusable mug with me in order to minimise my use of takeaway cups on my travels. I tried my best to be more conscious of my plastic waste and have made a note of what I have learned, in order to become more waste conscious in all areas of my life.

Ellen’s Findings

As part of my efforts to live a more sustainable lifestyle, I have started selling my clothes on Vinted. To reduce plastic my usage, instead of buying postage bags I have been recycling old shopping bags and cardboard boxes to send out my parcels to buyers. This is a great way of reducing my carbon footprint and giving clothes a new life, instead of sending them to landfill. I have also started bringing in food and coffee from home, as well as my own water bottle when I am out and about. These are small but effective ways to avoid plastic use whilst on the go!

Rita’s Findings

During the week I made conscious decisions to avoid using plastic. It influenced my purchasing decisions which helped me save money; little things like whether or not to buy a snack or to get a cup of coffee when I left my reusable mug at home. The use of reusable mugs and bottles is a growing trend – I noticed many people had their own mugs, bottles and even lunch boxes which was positive. The cost of living crisis has made me think about cutting down purchasing lunch when I’m working in the city, and using leftovers also helps with food waste. I was stunned by how much plastic there is in the supermarket – I can understand the need to preserve food or protect food from germs but I think that the plastic use in supermarkets is excessive. It did make me think that maybe I should consider getting my fruit and veg from a local fruit and veg stall in my town centre.

Our thoughts gathered

Looking into the findings of our plastic free week you can see common patterns in our discoveries. Firstly, it was noted how much of a difference it made using our reusable mugs. Not only was it good for saving on waste but it also saved us money (many coffee shops offer a discount when you use a reusable mug), which with today’s cost of living crisis is something that is very important. This along with making a packed lunch for work, not only saved us money on purchasing food, but it also decreased the plastic we were consuming from unnecessary packaging.

Another shared observation was acknowledging the amount of plastic that is used daily. By having this option taken away from us, it showed us how much we are using without even thinking about it. Looking into alternative solutions such as shopping at your local meat and vegetable vendors could be a way to help minimise this and could also work out as more cost effective.

Overall the outcome of our plastic free week was positive. Discoveries were made that we may not have uncovered if it wasn’t for us taking on this challenge. I think the main thing that we will take away from this challenge becoming more conscious of our plastic use and acknowledge ways in which we can make better decisions in our daily actions to reduce plastic waste.


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