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ClientEarth Communications

14th February 2018


Could you go plastic-free for Lent?

Whether it’s grabbing a bottle of water before a long train journey, brushing your teeth in the morning or doing a weekly shop at the supermarket, most people use a lot of plastic products every day.

As Sir David Attenborough has shown us, plastic pollution gathers in our oceans, poisoning our seas and the marine life in them.

A whopping 79% of plastic waste goes to landfill or ends up in the natural environment.

That’s why ClientEarth will be joining a Europe-wide campaign to give up plastic over Easter. Some of our staff will be finding out just what life without plastic is like, challenging themselves to ditch single-use items or avoid products in excessive packaging.

Making small changes to your daily routine can add up to a big difference. Find out what some of our staff are doing to reduce their plastic use and get involved online with #PlasticFreeLent.

See the latest on our work keeping plastics out of our oceans

Philippa Dunn, Head of Major Giving

What is your plastic-free lent challenge?

I’m going to do a five-week challenge (lent is LONG this year!) which scales up week by week.

Week 1 - Getting consistent

I’ve already got a re-usable coffee cup, a re-usable water bottle and lots of shopping bags, which is a good start. The problem is that I don’t always remember them – so week one is about getting better at being consistent with the plastic-free steps I’ve already attempted to take.

Week 2 - On the move

I’m going to try and cut out the food and drink in plastic packaging I end up buying when I’m in central London, or if I’m grabbing something quick on the way to evening social engagements.

Week 3 - Supermarket sweep

I’m going to try and start doing food shopping with a smaller plastic footprint – not just remembering shopping bags, but trying to reduce the amount of plastic packaging I am actually purchasing.

Week 4 – Cutting back in the bathroom

I think some of my biggest plastic consumption comes from toiletries, particularly shampoo and shower gel bottles and make-up remover wipes. So I’m going to try and use a bar shampoo and shower gel, use re-usable alternatives to the face wipes and possibly invest in a bamboo tooth brush.

Week 5 – Plastic-free dinner party

With all I have learned across plastic-free lent, I’ll try and host an Easter weekend dinner party that involves as little plastic as possible.

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Dr. Apolline Roger, Lawyer and Chemicals Project Lead

What is your plastic-free lent challenge?

I want to completely avoid single-use plastics (like bottles, candy wrappers, etc.) and limit as much as possible my use of short-term plastics (such as shampoo bottles and tissues). I’m going to invest in other materials to try and avoid plastics in the long-term, like clothes that don’t shed microfibers and Tupperware.

What difficulties do you think you'll face?

I’ve tried to work out where it would be the hardest over the last couple of weeks. I think it will be most challenging around food packaging. My husband has been trying to find me a reusable thermos bottle that doesn’t contain any plastic, and he is literally pulling his hair out in frustration… seems like you can avoid it in the body of the flask but you can’t avoid it in the lid.

Why did you want to do this challenge?

I want to reduce my plastic footprint, but also I want to identify when plastics have a truly necessary function and when they do not.

Kirsty Schneeberger, Head of Grants and Trusts, Development

What is your plastic-free lent challenge?

I will not buy food and drink that is covered in plastic packaging. If I buy food to go, I will take my own Tupperware instead of taking disposable packaging.

What difficulties do you think you'll face?

I will have to look for new places to shop with innovative solutions for non-plastic food packaging. I will have to be a lot more organised and prepare before I pop out to the shops to pick something up!

Why did you want to do this challenge?

It all goes back to the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. By reducing my plastics footprint, and reusing items instead, I will not add to the recycling burden that we are now facing.

Karolina Kaczmarek, Administration and Facilities Officer

What is your plastic-free lent challenge?

I will attempt to do a week of plastic-free grocery shopping.

What difficulties do you think you'll face?

The majority of products are wrapped in plastic, especially in smaller stores. I think it will be time-consuming to make my regular weekly-shop plastic free.

Why did you want to do this challenge?

Right now, the responsibility for plastic pollution is put on consumers rather than producers and manufacturers, because they do not easily provide alternatives to plastic packaging. While we wait for government and industry-led action, it will be interesting to see what difference individuals can make.