By Kerri Tyler

Every year, the Plastic Free July campaign encourages people to reduce plastic use and consider alternatives.

As well as looking horrible, plastic waste can stop plants from growing, and it can harm animals. Tiny pieces of plastic and fibres from polyester or nylon clothing, called microplastics, appear in almost all the world’s waterways, harming fish and other animals – and ending up in the food we eat. In fact, a test found 83% of water in major cites around the world contained plastic fibres – and 93% of bottled water contained microplastics.

So how can we cut plastic use? In Stroud, we have not one but two places to refill containers instead of buying new ones: at Loose in the High Street, you can buy rice, flour and pasta; and at Stroud Valleys Project (SVP) eco shop next to the Jobcentre, you can refill everything from shower gel to toilet cleaner. You can also bring in packaging to recycle – cheese, bread and beauty packaging, and single-use gloves – though we do not accept crisp/nut packaging or pet food pouches. You can recycle these at Tesco and some other supermarkets.

SVP eco shop also stocks just about every plastic-free item you could imagine, including tooth floss, water bottles, and beeswax wraps (and vegan alternative!).

Last month, SVP project officer Stuart Roweth and his team removed plastic guards from trees we planted five years ago in Ebworth near Birdlip. Stuart explains, “It’s essential to remove them once trees are established. We can use them again to reduce the need for new guards.”

Stroud District Action on Plastic recently won a national award, and their website is a brilliant resource full of everyday tips.

Even our local festival sees the value of reducing plastic use: Chalfest uses compostable cups and provides a place to refill water bottles – and sustainability lead Tricia Watson pleads, “Please take a few seconds to put your recyclable stuff in the right bin!”

SVP will be at Chalfest on Saturday with our Human Fruit Machine – come and ask us how you can cut your plastic use this month and all year round.

Three ways to reduce your plastic use

Refill food, toiletries and cleaning liquids

Choose unpackaged fruit and veg

Carry a refillable cup for coffee and tea