June Green Gate Challenge
Each month at the Gate, we set ourselves a monthly Green Gate Challenge. Green Gate is what we call our sustainability policy and we like to embark on monthly challenges.
The challenges are about changing how we think in the long term (and not just for that month), but we’ve found that giving each month a focus helps us keep sustainability and our Green Gate Policy at the forefront of our thinking as an organisation.
This month we decide to think more carefully about our how much plastic we use.
We were inspired by the Evening Standard article where Nick Curtis goes seven days without using disposable plastic. Take a read of how he got on here.
This was going to be a tough challenge (what doesn’t have plastic packaging?) but armed with the fact that 3 billion tonnes of plastic gets into the oceans each year and that by 2050 we are on track to have more (by weight) plastic than fish in our oceans, the Gate team decided to give it a go.
When will your hour/day/month without disposable plastic be?
As always, here’s how some of the Gate team found it!
This month flew by and I found it was the 30 June before I’d even set aside my day to go plastic free. Fail. I did, however, go to Glastonbury this year (SO MUCH MUD) and many food tents were charging for use of paper plates and disposable cutlery so I bought my own reusable plate, mug and cutlery which I used for breakfast almost every day… by the last day, I gave in. Second fail. This was hard, so hard, especially when you’re at a festival because everything is so temporary anyway that it feels odd to pack your washing up liquid (I didn’t), but I wanted to join in June’s Green Gate challenge (from afar) even though I was forgoing paper plates, and not plastic packaging! Habits take a while to change, so I’m sure by Glastonbury next year, I’ll be packing my washing up liquid alongside my wellies.
Chrissy Angus, General Manager
This one was super hard! I managed to have a couple of technically plastic free days, as I bought in lunch and breakfast from home, made sure to buy no plastic products and had no plans after work. BUT I did not manage to buy plastic free products from the supermarket with which to make my lunch – seriously try it for fun one day, it is nigh on impossible to buy without plastic – even fruit and veg with natural casing like bananas come in plastic bags, and the shop assistants really do look at you very funny if you take your own Tupperware boxes.
A serious challenge and one that exposed to me just how much plastic we consume in our daily lives.
Daisy Cooper, Producer
As this was my first ever Green Gate challenge, I didn’t know what to expect – but wow! So much more difficult than I anticipated. I had never thought about how much new plastic we consume every day, and how difficult it was to find, for example, lunch options that weren’t packaged in plastic in some form (for example, most pre-made sandwiches are out right off the bat). I definitely found myself much more inclined during the month to bring lunch from home, so in fact completing the challenge helped me save some money out of necessity. So much harder than I expected, and I definitely didn’t make it through an entire day (though I had many plastic-free mornings!) and I’m excited to try again for next month’s challenge!
Jake Stepansky, Development Placement
Who knew being plastic free was so hard! I bring my lunch in a lot and make coffee in my flask most mornings rather than buying it at the station on my commute so I challenged myself to be entirely plastic free for a day including Tupperware. My husband is an engineer so at this point he’d point out that my dresses are often made of plastic as are my non-leather shoes, parts of my bicycle and elements of my train journey so I focussed on food! Breakfast saw me utilising my trusty flask for a coffee asking the barista in my local coffee shop nicely and to her great amusement to not use a disposable cup. Lunch was a homemade salad using ingredients from the greengrocer rather than the supermarket in a jar washed out the night before. Dinner was tough because most things come in plastic! Ready meals were a definite no-no so vegan curry using greengrocer veg and tins of chickpeas was the way to go. But no rice because I couldn’t find any that didn’t come in a plastic container! This challenge was exhausting but it really made me think. I read an article on Tearfund’s Rhythms recently about the challenge to become a Zero Waste household. I’m definitely far from their yet but this challenge opened my eyes to some of the adjustments in my buying habits and patterns I would have to break to see a really significant change in my plastic consumption.
Fiona English, Development Manager