Will you Attempt the Plastic Free Challenge?

Plastic, it’s everywhere and we are all widely aware of how its non-biodegradable properties are having devastating effects on the environment, especially our oceans. Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms, according to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The issue of plastics may seem daunting but the best way to tackle this problem is to seek out ways where we can all do our part.

This month it’s Plastic Free July! The non-profit, Plastic Free July, has set the challenge for consumers to refuse single use plastic. This will help curb plastic use and encourage us all to consider the impact of plastics. We sought the advice of Researcher, Roshni Paul, who came up with these tips on how you as a student can reduce your use of plastics.

Are you a caffeine craver? – Use a reusable cup. It is a complete myth that takeout coffee cups are recyclable. But you don’t need to quit coffee, instead buy a reusable coffee cup. This can be used for your regular drinks purchases on campus. Plus some coffee chains offer discounts if you use a reusable cup – win! FACT: Less than 1% of coffee cups are recycled in the UK (Environmental Audit Committee)

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Stay hydrated! – Buy a permanent water bottle that you can top up from the fountains on campus. This will not only help you curb your plastic use but also prevent you from unnecessarily spending money on throwaway plastic bottles. FACT: In the UK 38.5m plastic bottles are used every day – only just over half make it to recycling (Surfers Against Sewage).

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Carrying something home? – Always carry a reusable plastic bag in your backpack. It makes your life easier and again saves you money. No more 5p bag charges. FACT: The number of single-use plastic bags sold by large retailers has dropped by 83% since the 5p carrier bag charge was introduced in the UK (Defra).

Eating your lunch on campus? – Reduce your use of plastic cutlery and bring cutlery from home or borrow the steel cutlery from Millennium Point’s canteen. FACT: 6 million tons of non-durable plastics, like plastic cutlery, are discarded every year (One Green Planet).


Know your bins! – Dispose of your rubbish responsibly at university, bins are clearly labelled throughout campus for plastics & other waste products. FACT: 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a light bulb for 3 hours (Recycling Bins).

“There is no doubt plastic is a brilliant invention for us humans, however we need to be thoughtful how we are treating our planet with our inventions. We might think why bother with such little things, but hey, every little act is helpful and together we can make a difference! Let us strive for a clean, green home!”

Roshni Paul

We hope Roshni’s tips help you tackle the challenge of Plastic Free July and hopefully help you curb your plastic use long term! If you’re interested in learning more about topics like this discover the work of our Bioenergy Research Group.