Reasons to go less plastic

This month we had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Keetley, the co-founder of Less Plastic, one of Dr. Bronner’s All One UK Initiative partners.  Less Plastic is a family run organisation based on the south coast of Devon with a mission to help people reduce their plastic use for the benefit of human health and the environment.

Tell us a little about Less Plastic and what caused you to start the organisation?

We started Less Plastic in 2015 and what prompted it was a walk on the beach in the winter after a storm and seeing the scale of the plastic pollution.  That was the first time to me it brought home what we were doing and made me think about the amount of plastic I was using.  I had a moment when I knew I had to do something.  So we did a beach clean and then I went home to read up about it.  At the time in the UK there wasn’t very much news or information about plastic pollution so I did my research to find out how we could use less plastic in our lives as I felt that was more achievable for everyone.  So I started with my own family and then, as marketing was my background, I used this to share the tips that I was finding with others.

What are the main environmental concerns that you think we should all be aware of?

One of the issues is how plastic breaks down in the ocean.  So much sinks down to the bottom and breaks down into microplastics.  What we still don’t know is what impact that has on human health.  Plastic is in everything and this is worrying.  We can’t do anything about what is already out there but what we can do is stop that concentration increasing because there is a limit that our bodies can cope with.  To reduce toxicity, we need to reduce the plastic we throw away.

When we look at environmental concerns, it’s important not to look at any issue in isolation.  The umbrella is nature.  Humans have lost their connection with nature. If we can just relearn to respect and protect nature and restore what we have damaged, this will sort all these issues out.  We have to have a shift of mind to understand that we need nature and will not survive without it.

You live by the coast, have you seen the amount of plastic washed up increase or decrease over the past couple of years?

That’s a difficult question to answer because we might not always see the plastic as it’s broken down.  However, I know from looking at plastic production, that they are increasing exponentially year on year, so it is getting worse.  We have to understand that recycling with plastic isn’t infinite.  We need to cut our ties with plastic or at least reuse the plastic we do have.

It’s not just at home that we need to be more conscious of our use of plastic, it’s also in the workplace.  What ways can we help to reduce our impact there?

The first thing is to get the team engaged as there is much more awareness on sustainability now.  Get people to just open their eyes up to how much plastic their workplace is using.  I find showing a video or giving a group talk around the issues which is affecting both the environment and human health most impactful.  Companies can also become more efficient if they do this by reducing the amount they need to spend.  Encourage staff to do team bonding clean ups in their local town, beach etc.  It makes you more aware of the problem.

Also look at the basics ie catering make sure you don’t have plastic water bottles, encourage people to have reusables in the canteen.  Take inspiration from nature and be circular.  Younger people expect their companies to do this.  They are the ones trying to hold the older ones accountable.  It’s therefore our responsibility to do something.

Educating others is an important part of your mission.  What are your top tips for people who want to reduce the amount of plastic in their lives? 

  1. As you go out and about, try and avoid take away packaging or minimise it. Take a reusable bottle/cup with you and bag.  Take your lunch with you in a reusable container.  Find your local places where they serve things on a plate and put pressure on them to change the way they do things.
  2. When you’re out and about, if you have a zero waste store near you, try shopping there. You have the benefit then of eating food which hasn’t been wrapped in plastic as well as the environmental benefits.
  3. Bathroom and cleaning products. It’s so much nicer to simplify.  You don’t need lots of different cleaners and I love that about Bronner’s Castile Soap that you can use it for any cleaning.  I go for higher quality and less which makes life simpler too as well as less costly.

Are there are useful resources that can help us generally consume less and reduce our plastic?

On the Less Plastic website under the Products tab you can access our free Infographics and other educational materials including my book ‘Plastic Game Changer’, the world’s first book to help people in business reduce plastic waste.

To watch the full interview please visit @Drbronnersuk Instagram channel.