Plastic Free July
What does this mean to a small business? Can a small preserves company like Matthew’s Preserved implement this into their core values?
Although the title implies that one must go the whole of July using no plastic, it is in fact trying to reduce individuals and businesses alike to cut down on their single use plastics over a period of a month. With the hope that after a month, it can be continued thus reducing our overall reliance on this polluting material.
But how easy is it to attain?
By starting the process at the beginning of the preserve production, it is easier to understand how reliant we have become on this material.
Jars – unless a small amount is needed, these generally arrive on a wooden pallet, with layers of cardboard, wrapped in a thick plastic liner and shrink wrapped. Two types of single use plastic before the production has even begun.
Ingredients – the fruit is either bought in frozen or fresh. If it is fresh, it comes in boxes and for the most part, little stickers have been placed on the fruit. Again, stickers have been made using plastic. If the fruit is frozen, it will be placed in plastic bags, inside a polystyrene lined box. Other ingredients will either be in cellophane packaging or delivered shrink wrapped to protect them from damage.
Moving away from production and looking at distribution.
Cardboard boxes – The cardboard is generally bound by sellotape. Sellotape being made from plastic. If a business has multiple boxes leaving the premise on a pallet, this will also be shrink wrapped.
These are only a few steps to show how plastic has been embedded into a small business. If one were to analyse a national one, the problems grow exponentially.
Is reducing the answer?
Maybe reducing is quite a hard solution for a small business. The financial pressure and feasibility get in the way. Therefore, maybe a better solution would be reuse.
By using the examples above it is easier to look for reuse solutions amongst the packaging:
Jars –The shrink wrap could be reused as packing material, thus prolonging its shelf life.
Ingredients – Plastic bags that any fruit comes in are saved and used again as binbags around the facility. Although this is a small measure, it reduces the need to buy single use binbags. Matthew’s Preserved have passed on the polystyrene lined boxes to other small businesses that need them. To date they have helped local artisan chocolate makers, vegan soap makers and an events company with a box which is ideal for keeping products cool.
Cardboard boxes – There is eco-friendly packing tape readily available on the market, therefore, once the current stocks on tape have been used, Matthew’s Preserved will move over to these.
‘It’s important to understand that single use plastics are not the only problem, therefore we should all be more conscious about our environmental footprint. The weight of the problem doesn’t just lie solely with the business, if our customers do their own bit, together we can all help to reduce plastic pollution’.
Some of the things we do as a family are:
Using beeswax wraps instead of clingfilm 🐝🐝🐝
Buying loose fruit and veg 🍌🍎🍍🍊🥔🥕🥦🍄
Reusable bags 🛍️🎒🛍️🎒
Reusable Water bottles 🍼🍼🍼🍼 (I know its a baby bottle but it’s the nearest I could get)
Using shampoo and soap bars 🧼🧼🧼 (needless to say, I don’t need the shampoo!)
There’s always one thing to remember: