Unpackage me: A Life free from Plastics

Researchers from the University of Exeter will attempt to live a life free from plastic during October and are calling for others to follow suit. Dr Jennifer Sanderson and Miss Lindsay Walker, both from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, are undertaking the month-long challenge to help raise awareness of our dependency on plastic packaging.

Members of the public are invited to join the initiative by visiting the ‘Unpackage me’ website and pledging to not purchase any products that contain or use plastic for a day or more during October. 

Why are plastics a problem? The main issue with plastics is that they do not biodegrade. This means that every piece of plastic ever created still exists somewhere in the world.

Lindsay Walker finds #pointlessplastic on a beach clean

Lindsay Walker finds #pointlessplastic on a beach clean

In the UK alone 275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year, which equates to about 15 million bottles per day. Most UK households throw away about 40kg of recyclable plastic per year.

Current global consumption of plastic has drastic consequences for global energy consumption, for our economy, and for the health of both marine and terrestrial wildlife.

It is currently estimated that oceanic plastic waste kills one million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals every year.

Plastic packaging has become such normality that we can use and throw away several tonnes of plastic every day without any thought to the consequences of our actions. How much plastic do you use every day? How much plastic do you need to use every day?

Dr Sanderson collects rubbish at a beach clean

Dr Sanderson collects rubbish at a beach clean

Plastics have become such a common part of everyday life that it is easy to assume they are a necessity. Jenni and Lindsay’s pledge to go plastic free for a month will hopefully demonstrate the various ways that anyone can reduce their plastic footprint on the world.

Anyone can join the campaign by visiting the Unpackage Me website and pledging to go plastic-free for a day or more during October. The FXU student led ‘Keep your Kool’ campaign have already joined forces with Jenni and Lindsay and pledged to go plastic-free for two weeks, how long could you go without plastic?

Unpackage Me will be launched on 1 October with interactive information stands, posters and a display of the plastic saved. This main event will be held in the Exchange Building on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus where Jenni and Lindsay will be challenging students to sort a pile of plastic waste into different categories of recyclability in under a minute.

Students from Keep your Kool will join Unpackage Me on 1 October to showcase their campaign to reduce the use of plastic bottles on campus. They will be asking staff and students to pledge to ‘keep their kool’ and stick to reuseable water bottles rather than purchasing plastic bottled water.

Unpackage Me will be inviting the public to keep a look out for plastics in their Twitter-based weekly photo competition to find the product with the most pointless packaging (#pointlessplastic).

Throughout the month Jenni and Lindsay will be writing a daily blog on their website about the difficulties that they face and how they overcome the challenges of a life free from plastic.

The website also includes information about plastics, as well as initiatives to reduce, re-use, and recycle plastics. Together with dedicated Twitter (@UnpackageMe) and Facebook pages, the website will provide a forum for the general public to gain and exchange information of plastic re-use and explore the wider effects of our daily plastic choices.

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