It’s time to go plastic-free: these are London’s plastic free stores
Plastic pollution is arguably one of the most prominent issues of the 21st century. The words themselves have slowly become buzzwords in mainstream society – so it should be no surprise that people around the world are taking a stand against the issue.
What is plastic pollution?
According to PlasticOceans.org, almost 300 tons of plastic is produced annually around the world and half of this is for single use. Single use plastics include plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic bottles and plastic straws.
Every year, over eight million tons of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans and this causes a number of environmental issues. Not only do single use plastics make up 49% of beach litter, but they can also cause serious harm to wildlife. It’s easy for marine species to become entangled in pieces of plastic – plastic bags, for example – and it’s fairly common for animals to mistake plastic for food. Research from Greenpeace shows that up to 9 in 10 seabirds, 1 in 3 sea turtles and over half of whale and dolphin species have ingested plastic.
But it’s not just marine species that suffer from the amount of plastic we’re putting into our oceans: the entire food chain does – meaning that, if marine species such as fish are consuming high levels of plastic, humans are too, when they eat fish, for example. Not only are we eating plastic we’ve thrown away, but there’s also potential for this plastic to enter the tissues of our bodies – just as it does in sea animals.
How can we make a change?
Luckily, over the last few years, people have begun to wake up to the issues surrounding plastic pollution. The United Nations ‘declared war’ on plastic in February 2017, and media coverage has helped to raise awareness of these issues – perhaps the most famous example would be the BBC series Blue Planet II.
Things are looking up; the UK’s plastic bag pollution has decreased by 86% since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge in 2015. However, there’s still a long way to go – but there are some changes we can make. The key is switching to reusable products rather than disposable – using glass or metal water bottles instead of plastic bottles, buying reusable cups for hot drinks, saying no to plastic straws and so on.
Conveniently, there are a number of plastic-free shops popping up around the country. These stores aim to be as close to zero-waste as possible and minimise the amount of plastic used in everyday life. Shoppers can buy loose products in any quantity they wish – from cereal to washing powder and fruit and vegetables to salt – all without the unnecessary plastic.
Where are London’s plastic-free stores?
Currently there are nine plastic free stores in London.
Re:Store (Hackney’s most recent plastic-free opening):
Hackney Downs Studios, 17 Amhurst Terrace, London, E8 2BT
Unpackaged (found in Planet Organic stores):
Islington branch: 64 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LR
Muswell Hill branch: 111/117 Muswell Hill Road, Muswell Hill, London, N10 3HS
Torrington Place branch: 22 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HJ
Westbourne Grove branch: 42 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5SH
Hetu (Clapham Junction):
201 St. Johns Hill, London SW11 1TH
Battersea branch: 99 St John’s Rd, London, SW11 1QY
Chiswick branch: 24 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London, W4 1QP
Bulk Market (Hackney):
6 Bohemia Place, Hackney, London, E8 1DU
Harmless Store (Wood Green):
Blue House Yard, 5 River Park Rd, Wood Green, London, N22 7TB
Get Loose (Hackney):
Hackney City Farm E2 8QA, United Kingdom
The Refill Larder (Teddington):
122 High Street,Teddington TW11 8JB
21-23 Tooting High St, Tooting, London,SW17 0SN
Despite supermarkets also beginning to make changes, and the introduction of these plastic-free stores, there is still a long way to go. And although these stores aren’t accessible or practical for everyone, the increasing number of them gives us hope that things are going to change and, hopefully, we can collectively reduce the damage that plastic pollution is causing our planet.