Recycled Plastic Bottle Bags

With the increasing number of headlines about the environmental issues caused by single-use plastics, it is hard not to think about your own plastic usage.  Back in January, I wrote about the plastic problem and suggested some ideas that could help us all reduce the amount of plastic in our lives.  Since then, I have invested in several reusable everyday items, some of which I thought I would share with you.

I really enjoy browsing the Rex London (formerly dotcomgiftshop) website for quirky gifts and homeware, and am always impressed with their offers / sales.  They sell lots of reusable items such as bottles, coffee cups, snack pots / boxes and paper straws, but in my most recent haul, I purchased several bags!

Firstly, lunch bags!  I take lunch to work everyday and although I mainly use a bento box (also from Rex London) I occasionally need something a bit bigger or an extra layer in case something leaks, so these are ideal.  They have foil insulation, carry handles, a zip fastening and are wipe-clean, but what makes these extra special is that they are made from recycled plastic bottles, so not only do they reduce the use of plastic bags, they have already reduced the amount of plastic that could have ended up in landfill or the ocean by being made of it.  And at £1.95 in the sale (£3.95 usually) I just couldn’t resist!  I have been using the geometric print one for a few months now and am rather impressed – measuring 21 cm x 16 cm x 12 cm it holds plenty of food (including my bento box) and can even fit in my small rucksack which is very handy indeed.  I also used it over summer for small picnics and the foil insulation kept my food nice and fresh.

Next is a Blue Tit print picnic bag.  Again, made from recycled plastic bottles this is a fantastic and very strong bag, perfect for larger picnics!  I was extremely pleased with this when I received it.  At 31 cm x 30 cm x 22 cm it is a great size and could definitely be used for a family of four.  Like the lunch bags, the nylon straps make it easy and comfortable to carry, foil insulation keeps food fresh and recycled plastic outer has helped the environment.  This was a super bargain price of £2.95 in the sale (£6.95 usually).

The final recycled plastic bottle bag I bought is a large Garden Birds design shopping bag.  We get our food shopping delivered (without carrier bags) so it helps to have a large bag to transport the goods through to the kitchen.  When I saw this one at only £1.95 in the sale (£3.95 usually) I was very happy as it is one of my favourite designs by Rex London.  I have used this for shopping every week for a few months, often with quite heavy items in and it is still going strong!  It’s also great as it folds down flat so can be stored away when not in use.  Due to the material and generous size of 60 cm x 37 cm x 20 cm, it would also perfect for a day at the beach!

Have you bought any cool, recycled products recently that you would recommend?  If so, I would love to hear about them.


#30DaysWild Days 11-20

Another ten days of #30DaysWild have been and gone, and I have continued to stay wild throughout.  I have been enjoying the steady weather and as it gets warmer this coming week, I expect that a lot of people will do some lovely outdoor random acts of wildness to complete the challenge!  So what have I been up to?…

11. I have noticed again this year that there are several swifts flying around my area, which is fantastic as swifts are an amber-listed species since their breeding numbers decreased by 51% in the UK between 1995 and 2015!  I love to hear their distinctive screaming call in the mornings and evenings, and it was particularly noticeable on the 11th along with house sparrow songs and calls.  On my way to work, I paid close attention, listened to them for longer than usual and spotted a lot of the sparrows flying into their nests in local house eaves and guttering!

12. A simple but calming act was getting some fresh air by going on a lunchtime walk to break up my day.

13. My partner and I strolled around our favourite local cemetery and played ‘name that bird’ to test our bird call knowledge.  We also saw a cute baby squirrel and some awesome fungi growing on a tree.

14. To help further reduce my plastic usage, I bought a lunch bag made from recycled plastic bottles (to use when I don’t use my bento box) along with a fantastic picnic bag and large shopping bag also made from recycled plastic bottles!

15. After booking the day off work, my partner and I were happy to wake up to a warm day, perfect for a trip to Hunstanton or ‘sunny Hunny’.  It was just lovely to relax outdoors and walk along the beach.

16. I took action and ordered myself a vegan, biodegradable bamboo toothbrush (which has since arrived and is great)!  In the evening I went on a Wildlife Weekend Bat Walk hosted by Leicestershire & Rutland Bat Group and Bradgate Park Trust.  Led by local specialists, we had an informative walk around Bradgate Park and actually detected quite a few bats – which like last year were common pipistrelles, soprano pipistrelles and Daubenton’s.

17. After treating my dad to breakfast for Father’s Day, we visited good old Leicester Botanic Garden for a walk and of course to take some photographs of the wonderful array of plants.  I also discovered #wildflowerhour which encourages people to share photos between 8-9pm every Sunday of the flowers they have found growing wild in Britain and Ireland during the week.

18. My partner and I extended our weekend even more with a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon where we went rowing down the river and saw lots of beautiful creatures including moorhens, coots, ducks, swans, geese and stunning damselflies (possibly ‘beautiful demoiselles’).

19. Having seen a lot of articles about National Insect Week I was happy to read that the 2018 Photography Competition is now open.  “To take part, all you have to do is to take photographs of an insect or a group of insects and submit the images using the online submission form”.  I better get looking through my photographs!

20. I was pleased to learn that the Leicester juvenile peregrines had successfully fledged on the 15th and 16th June, so I took a couple of my friends to the cathedral to see if we could spot them.  There was definitely a peregrine falcon perched near the top of the spire, and from the size and colouring I could see, I think it may have actually been one of the youngsters.


The Plastic Problem

As many of you will know, one of the biggest environmental problems right now is plastic pollution, specifically in our oceans!  Plastics do not go away and what is scary is the fact that over 300 million tonnes of plastic is being produced globally every year and half of this is for single use!  Furthermore, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the ocean and onto our beaches every single year… and if action isn’t taken, this figure will continue to rise, as society has produced more plastic in the last ten years than during the whole of the last century!  The average plastic bottle takes about 450 years to completely break down, meaning the plastic waste of today will be floating around the ocean or laying on the sea bed for generations.

The effect of plastics on ocean wildlife is absolutely awful.  For example, turtles choke on or get entangled in big pieces of plastic, smaller pieces fill the stomachs of seabirds leaving no room for food to feed their young, whilst microplastics (which are defined as particles less than 5mm across) are contaminated further by toxic chemicals and pesticides and are then consumed by a range of marine animals such as corals and zooplankton, which ultimately end up entering the food chain!

Thankfully this crisis has been at the forefront of discussion recently, with help from environmental charities and programmes such as Blue Planet II, as big corporations and Governments have been called upon to take action!  The UK Government’s 25 year environmental plan commits the UK to “eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042”, but I think as individuals we need to and CAN help now by making some simple life changes.

Firstly, why not find out what your plastic footprint is by using this calculator.  Once you know how you are using plastics, think about how you can reduce your usage.  I have come up with a list of 10 easy ideas:

  1. Carry a reusable bag around with you for those unexpected shopping trips
  2. Always use a reusable water bottle
  3. Take your own travel mug to coffee shops for the barista to fill up
  4. Reduce the use of sandwich bags by putting food straight into a lunchbox or Bento box
  5. Ask for ‘no straw’ when ordering drinks
  6. Use real cutlery and plates instead of disposable ones at parties
  7. Swap your plastic toothbrush for an eco-friendly bamboo one
  8. Stop using cosmetics that contain exfoliating micro-beads
  9. Avoid excessive food packaging by buying fresh and shopping wisely
  10. Recycle! Take a little extra time to check packaging and break it down properly for the different types of recycling

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for how we can all individually reduce our plastic usage?