Hidden plastic to avoid this Plastic Free July

Top 5 Hidden Plastics

Plastic Free July has come around again and this year we're putting up an even bigger fight against plastic pollution. We all know to avoid those single use wrapped items and to reduce the obvious polluters (like plastic bottles and cling-film) but what about hidden plastic in everyday items?

Yes you heard us right, plastic hiding in plain sight in the items you buy on a daily basis. Let's dive deeper and find some alternatives...

1. Takeaway Coffee Cups

We'll bang this drum all the way through Plastic Free July and beyond. Coffee cups aren't easily recyclable and only one in four hundred are actually recycled.

This is because the cups themselves are lined with a plastic film to keep them watertight. This makes it really difficult to separate from the cardboard outer and therefore is just sent straight to landfill or incineration. Not good!

Luckily we know exactly where you can buy a stylish, barista friendly, reusable coffee cup for your morning routine. 

2. Menstrual Items

Did you know, one pack of menstrual pads contains the equivalent of four plastic bags?

Thankfully, there are lots of green menstrual items on the market nowadays, so it's time to ditch the plastic applicators and plastic lined pads and opt for the low impact option. There are so many options when it comes to menstrual cups and menstrual pads - buy to suit your body and your needs.

"Figures from the Marine Conservation Society reveal 4 pads, panty liners and backing strips are found for every 100m of beach cleaned, along with 1.2 used tampons and applicators. That’s 4.8 pieces of menstrual waste on average per 100m of beach in the UK." - WEN.org.uk

If you're not convinced on reusables, then take a look at market changers DAYE or Grace and Green. Also please remember, bin it, never flush it! 

3. Chewing Gum

Not exactly what you want to hear when you pop a piece of gum in your mouth but there's a reason why the sticky stuff hangs around on the pavement for years. Plastic is hidden in the 'gum-based ingredient'. Ick. 

But, gum-chewers rejoice, there are plastic free gum options on the market! We've opted to stock the popular Chewsy in both peppermint and spearmint. Meaning you're fresh for your day and saving the planet.

4. Clothing

Fast fashion is becoming increasingly popular and unpopular in equal measures at the moment. 'Haul' videos are back on the rise on platforms like TikTok, flouting cheaply made clothes from Shein and other ultra fast fashion giants: on the flipside Love Island has ditched fast fashion sponsors and opted to promote preloved clothes through partnering with eBay. So there is hope! 

Obviously we know how easy it is to order that cute dress online from fast fashion brands like H&M, Primark etc. but large percentages of their clothing lines are made from polyester (which is made from oil).

"Polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers — all of which are forms of plastic — are now about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide." - Vox

Synthetic clothing then shed these fibres when washed and get washed straight into our oceans. Adding to the growing nightmare that is microplastics in our seas and therefore our food-chain through fishing. 

While buying second hand clothing is great, and we always opt for that choice first, there are a couple of things we think of when buying clothes: 

- When buying second hand we always try and find a cotton/linen alternative first

- If we have to buy new (which is extremely rare) we do our research through Good On You and only buy from their rated 'Great' section OR buy from credible companies such as Rapanui

Did you know, we have a partnership with Rapanui through their partnership arm TeeMill? Click here to check out our Organic Cotton, closed-loop, fair wage paying line!

5. Teabags

No one in Britain would be without their morning cup (or seven) of tea. Through shows like War on Plastic by the BBC, a wider population is becoming more aware of these hidden nasties. But even the so-called 'plastic free teabags' aren't all they seem.

While a lot of the 'biodegradable' teabags are now free from synthetic plastic, many of them still contain a layer of 'bio-plastic' or PLA.

PLA is classed as biodegradable but, in landfill, it breaks down in the same way as regular plastic would and needs industrial composting facilities (which unfortunately the UK is not geared up for at the time of writing this article).

Even though lots of brands are making the switch, there are still too many plastic options on our shelves and in our coffee shops. Here's why that's problematic. The University of McGill, Montreal, found nano-plastics were being released when the teabags were submerged in boiling water:

"The researchers cut open the bags and removed the tea leaves so that they wouldn’t interfere with the analysis. Then, they heated the emptied teabags in water to simulate brewing tea. Using electron microscopy, the team found that a single plastic teabag at brewing temperature released about 11.6 billion microplastic and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles into the water."

That's going into our bodies and causing havoc that we can't even imagine at this point. To combat this we suggest a good old fashioned teapot and loose leaf tea or use a strainer for a single cup. 

If you'd like more information on this and want to see which brands are good, medium, and not so good - check out this article by Ethical Consumer.


What are you switching away from this Plastic Free July? Tag us on socials @GreenPearEco using tags #GreenPearEco #PlasticfreeJuly