World Oceans Day – we’re doing our bit

June 8, 2019 8:07 am Published by 2 Comments

One ocean – or five? The Ocean Project recognizes ‘one global ocean that connects us all’. Within that, there are ‘five distinct oceans: the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Southern Ocean’. All of them are vital to life on earth, generating most of the oxygen we breathe, regulating our climate, cleansing our water and offering us food and numerous medicines.

What can you do to help protect our oceans?

That certainly sounds like a good reason for a celebration! Today, on World Oceans Day, that’s just what happens. There are parties by the sea and numerous events to remind us of the importance of the ocean. Naturally Good Food is, as it happens, about as far from an ocean as it’s possible to be within the UK! Nevertheless, we’ll be joining in with pleasure. We rely on the ocean, right here in land-locked central England, just as much as everyone else – and we’re keen to do our bit to protect it too.

Protect and restore

The theme of World Oceans Day 2019 is ‘together we can protect and restore our oceans’. It’s all about conservation, renewal and human impact – but it’s also about a spirit of optimism. Humans have clearly caused great damage to the oceans, but we also have the capacity to put things right.

Plastic in the oceans

Back in the spring of 2018, David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series inspired many people to reduce their use of plastics. The programme showed how serious the issue of plastic waste in the oceans had become, with its devastating effects on wildlife. It marked a sea-change (no pun intended) in our attitudes towards plastic and has proved an enduring concern. The world might continue to turn, and politics and domestic concerns continue to fill the front pages of the newspapers, but people are still thinking, worrying and asking about plastic use.

Perhaps that’s because some of the images shown in the media have been so horrifying. We’ve seen remote islands with a fringe of plastic around their edges; whole floating ‘islands’ made from plastic waste in the oceans; plastic particles found deep in the Amazon rainforest, in the most remote reaches of the Amazon river; microbeads flushed down our drains, poisoning wildlife; and birds and animals with their stomachs stuffed full of plastic – or strangled by plastic around their necks.

Perhaps it’s stuck in our minds too because it’s an issue that we can all do something about. Cutting down on plastic use – and being very careful in our disposal of it – is within everyone’s reach. Last year we published a blog, Sharon’s plastic-free story: not just a drop in the ocean, noting one family’s journey towards a more plastic-free lifestyle. It has some good ideas and inspiration!

What’s Naturally Good Food doing?

We know our customers want to reduce plastic use – and so do we. We’ve made it our mission throughout 2018 and 2019 to find non-plastic alternatives for all the packaging we use within our business. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re well on the way. We’ve got rid of plastic bags and non-biodegradable loosefill. We’re trialling biodegradable clingfilm, bubblewrap and masking tape and have found paper-based tapes for our smaller packages. You can see our current Packaging and plastics policy here.

Our blogs: Buy in bulk to cut down on plastic and Cutting down on plastic: hard soap, bulk soap and refills give some good ideas for our customers too. It’s also worth re-reading our blog How does all the plastic get into the oceans? to remind us of quite how the problem arises.

What can you do?

As well as shopping at NGF, what can individual consumers do? Here are some of the specific ideas we set out last year.

  1. Never, ever litter: only leave plastic waste where you are sure it will be correctly disposed of. If a sweet wrapper blows away from you in the street, chase after it! Much of the plastic in our oceans has travelled via rivers to the sea – having been blown along as litter into the river in the first place.
  2. Take part in a litter pick: not just to beautify your local area, but to make a real difference – even if you live hundreds of miles from the sea. Stop litter blowing into drains, streams and rivers by picking it up and disposing of it correctly.
  3. Take part in a paddle-pick! Perhaps a little more fun than picking up litter alongside a main road in a high-vis jacket: get on a paddleboard and travel along rivers or out to sea, picking up what you can find, using a grabber.
  4. Say no to plastics, especially single-use plastic, as much as you can. Remember your fabric shopping bag when you pop out. Ask for your shopping to be packed without the use of plastic if possible (see our own packaging policy here). Take your own coffee cup out with you. And think of a way to reuse every bit of plastic that enters your home.
  5. Donate to Greenpeace’s End Ocean Plastic Pollution campaign. One voice, one change of lifestyle and one litter-pick has less impact than a thousand voices put together. Greenpeace and other organisations have the ability to put pressure on producers and governments round the world, helping to stop the problem at its source.
  6. Where possible, choose plastic-free packaging options – or options that are as low in plastic as possible. Do you need laundry liquid in a plastic bottle? How about laundry powder in a cardboard box instead?
  7. Choose brands that are generally environmentally friendly. We stock a wide range of planet-friendly brands at Naturally Good Food in our household cleaning and toiletries sections. These brands are moving as quickly as they can towards fully recyclable, fully biodegradable or even entirely plastic-free packaging options. Jump on board with them!
  8. Buy toiletries and household cleaners in bulk and as refills. It’s wasteful to buy a whole new plastic bottle of hand-soap every time, when all you really need is the liquid inside. Buying in bulk allows you to refill and reuse smaller bottles. You can see all our bulk household products here and our toiletries here.
  9. Think of alternatives to plastic: can you make your own cotton baby wipes? Use cotton wool balls instead of plastic-handled cotton buds? Buy a reusable steel or glass straw? Use a fabric pouch for sandwiches, or a paper bag, or a lunchbox, rather than plastic food bags or clingfilm? Fill a reusable flask with water, rather than buying water in plastic bottles? Buy loose fruit and veg, rather than pre-packaged?
  10. Recycle wherever possible. Currently, just 9% of plastic is being recycled in the UK, according to Greenpeace. It might be easier to stick a plastic container straight in the bin, rather than washing it and sorting it out – but do it! Set up a recycling box in your kitchen to make the process more straightforward. Stick a note on your bin so that kids and visitors understand your waste management system. If you think it might help, put up a picture of the plastic problem in the ocean, too – to keep you on your toes.

Above all, remember the useful mantra for coping with plastic: reduce, reuse, recycle – in that order. And, of course, take part in a World Oceans Day event – or start your own! We’ll be with you in spirit!

Naturally Good Reads v2

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This post was written by Yzanne

2 Comments

  • Mel says:

    Is it not possible for so many of the products to be repackaged by dumping the entire bag into a paper bag? Maybe two for strength?. If your company did this for those items that would be unaffected, flour, pasta and the like it would be far more effective than individuals doing it. The product can be put into a plastic (yes I know, but chances are most already have them as cereal containers or the like or can buy recycled plastic new ones ) containers to keep it fresh.
    The product is no more likely to suffer damage than it it was in plastic.
    This would especially help those who financially are unable to buy in bulk.

    Returning all those bags to the supplier to deal with would shift their thinking regarding packaging.

    In addition, a small fee, if necessary would be easier for some to afford than trying to buy in bulk!
    It would also give a feel good factor to the customer than would have the knock on effect ( one would hope ) of encouraging even more recycling or buying of those products already sensibly packaged.

    A few pence per item, paper bags in bulk aren’t hugely expensive and a few pence per item would cover your costs and not put off the customer from choosing as an option.

    If you guarantee that the weights will still be the same and a quick arrival will occur I know which option I would choose. You would need to guarantee that the product was repackaged immediately before shipping and was not sat on a shelf waiting to be sold. That way even flours would not be affected.

    Perhaps you could ask customers on your newsletter for would they / wouldn’t they responses and then you could proved for a trial period.

    Just a thought or two…… I doubt the supplier would have their thinking affected by the return of one of even two bags from me. But thousands of empty bags from you?

    Best regards,
    P.S. I have been on your listing for ages but only received two or three letters, no vouchers etc. I have reentered my details to receive more letters, or do you only send out quaterly?
    Cheers,

    • Yzanne says:

      Hi Mel,

      Thank you for that comment – it is very helpful. I am going to pass on the point about the newsletters to our operations manager, so she can check there’s nothing awry there. I’ll also ask her to reply in more detail about the packaging side of things, as I know she is continuing to make changes there.

      One relevant point with regard to packaging is that we obtain almost all our products from three wholesalers, rather than the manufacturers direct. Returning packaging to the wholesalers would therefore have little impact, unless of course, the wholesalers then returned it themselves to the manufacturers. We are, however, continuing to put pressure on the wholesalers to see how the packaging situation can be improved – we do feel a little too much at their mercy at the moment! And we’re in agreement with you on the plastic/paper issue in general of course!

      Thanks again for getting in touch and letting us know your thoughts. It is genuinely helpful to know what our customers really want.

      Best wishes,

      Yzanne Mackay
      Editor and Writer
      Naturally Good Food

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