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19 Jul 2019, 15:27

Plastic-Free July

It’s fantastic to see that finally, concerns over plastic waste, excess packaging, one-use plastic and its impact on our environment, wildlife, and marine life is starting to be taken seriously. At last, eco-warriors are being hailed as the forward-thinking heroes they are, instead of being ridiculed (Source: BBC).

You are sure to have noticed the focus on using more sustainable and less environmentally-damaging resources. At work we’re encouraged to use china crockery and metal cutlery, rather than the disposable options; coffee-shops are rewarding us with money off each time we reuse a cup – one of my favourite birthday presents this year was a reusable cup made from bamboo. But there’s so much still to be done. You can’t help but question the logic of paper straws when the frappe is still in a plastic container, or the plethora of plastic we bring home from our weekly shopping trips.

Plastic-free July is dedicated to teaching people about the dangers of plastic but also challenges people to avoid using it as much as possible for the month. The WWF tells us that some eight million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year which is clearly not acceptable. Check out their top ten tips to reduce your plastic footprint here. A month of awareness is a great initiative, of course, but please, don't limit your efforts to one month of the year – make plastic awareness a part of your everyday life.

There are loads of resources online offering tips to help you reduce your personal plastic use. One of the things I’ve been focusing on lately is finding refillable beauty and makeup products – apologies for being so girly, but I learned that a third of landfill in the UK alone is beauty product-related waste, which I found horrifying! I now refill my hand washes, mineral foundations, lipsticks and have a magnetic makeup palette that houses everything I need and can be refilled individually (with totally natural and vegan-friendly products no less!). Next, I’m going to start looking into where I can find refill stations for detergents and other household products.

I’d love to hear what you are doing to reduce your plastic footprint. Tips, suggestions, links, and opinions are all welcomed in the comments below.

Final food for thought

Earlier this year, RS sponsored TeamBLISS who designed and built a cool, eco-friendly device – a beach-cleaning robot prototype which sifts the sand and detects and filters out natural materials, whilst collecting plastic and waste for disposal. But how do we get from a prototype to actual introduction and use – in essence, who is going to pay?

As a community of innovative engineers, how much do you think technology has a vital part to play in finding solutions to some of our manmade ecological issues? Or will cost continue to remain a barrier?

DesignSpark Community Manager and all-around geek girl.

19 Jul 2019, 15:27


July 24, 2019 15:21

This is honestly something that bothers me a lot - with so much money and pressure being applied to developing renewable energy solutions and electric cars it's hard to believe that a problem on the same magnitude as global warming continues to be overlooked. What is perhaps more concerning is we are all encouraged to recycle but only a very small percentage of recyclable waste actually makes it through the process, with the rest going to landfill anyway or incinerated into the atmosphere! I am more than keen to investigate how we as makers and engineers could improve the situation with technology, much like Team BLISS have done, to solve what is in my opinion an environmental emergency.

July 24, 2019 15:21

@ElectricJosh thanks for sharing your thoughts too. It feels like it's too little too late in some ways because of the time it takes for environmental messages to get to a place where they are actually taken seriously! Let's keep looking for opportunities and ways we can help :)

July 24, 2019 15:20

@leonie It is sad to see the lack of responsiveness and leadership in the places we need it the most. On the upside I think the general public is starting to adopt these environmental responsibilities more willingly which is really great to see and I think leading by example is the best way we can make a difference. :)