This Plastic Free July, we challenged our Schools Officer, Karen Willcocks, to make one small change a day towards going plastic free. Find out how she got on in her blog all about her first week here!

It’s Plastic Free July! I’m sure many of you are aware of the problem plastic is causing in our Ocean. Whales are washing up on the beach with stomachs filled with plastic, seabirds are passing plastic fragments onto their chicks and turtles are mistaking carrier bags for jellyfish. Wish such heart-breaking stories all around us, it’s so easy to feel guilty, powerless and hopeless. But what’s incredible is that there are so many actions we can take to reduce plastic pollution ourselves, and if we all take small steps to tackle the problem, we will have a big impact.

As much as I would love to cut plastic out of my life entirely, I’m sure you’re all aware that this is easier said than done. Plastic is all around us, and it would be overwhelming and unrealistic to cut it all out straight away. So, to make this more manageable, I decided to take one action every day to reduce the amount of plastic that I use. By the end of July, I’m hoping that using less plastic will be an easy part of everyday life! Here’s how I got on during my first week…

Day 1 – Bamboo straws: whether you like to use straws for your drinks at home or want a reusable one that you can take out and about with you,  metal, paper and bamboo straws are all great alternatives to plastic straws. I opted for bamboo straws, as bamboo is fast-growing, strong and biodegradable.

Day 2 – Reusable fabric shopping bags: always keep a few in your car or bag. You can also get little fold up bags, so they don’t take up too much space. Plastic carrier bags are classed as single-use items – they’re used for 5 minutes but last for between 10-1000 years! So start keeping some reusable ones handy and you’ll greatly reduce the amount of plastic you consume.

Day 3 – Bamboo coffee cup: I had this one in my cupboard already after receiving it as a gift, so I have been making a conscious effort to put it in my bag each morning as part of my routine. Most coffee shops also give you a few pennies off if you bring in a reusable cup, so remember to keep yours with you for when the need for caffeine hits!

Day 4 – Bamboo toothbrush: I bought a pack of six bamboo toothbrushes on Amazon for just £3.50, so changing over from the traditional plastic versions  won’t break the bank! Just make sure you wipe them clean after each use to ensure they last that little bit longer.

Day 5 – Shampoo bars: these might seem a little pricey at first, but in actual fact, they last for about to 80 washes – much longer than your average bottle of shampoo. It works out about the same price as buying the bottled versions, too. I got mine in Lush, and the staff there are really helpful in advising which bars would suit your hair type.

Day 6 – Recycling contact lens cases: This was a super easy one! I was heading into town to do some shopping anyway, so decided to pop upstairs to recycle my contact lens cases in Specsavers. It only took about a minute out of my day ?

Day 7 – Bamboo cups/bowls: I’m avoiding glass when outside in the garden this summer, as certain members of my household can be a bit clumsy (myself included!) – so we want to avoid smashed glass on our patio as well as plastic, which is particularly important if you have animals around. Bamboo cups and bowls are an excellent solution, so I’ve replaced all mine.

Of course, it’s important to remember that the items that have the biggest impact on our Ocean are the single-use plastics, such as water bottles, carrier bags and coffee cup lids – so if you do only one thing this #PlasticFreeJuly, then make it to reduce your use of these. If, however, you’re ready to move onto the next step, then look out for my next blog, coming soon, to see how I got on in week two!