Swindon people are being encouraged join a global initiative to ditch plastic for a month.

Plastic-free July starts today and sees people take up the challenge of reducing the amount of single use waste plastics in their everyday lives for 30 days.

Backed by Plastic-Free Swindon, Ben Bell the central coordinator for the group said: “This is a big collaborative event around the world and a good opportunity to really think about the amount of plastics we use and how to reduce this.

“These sorts of challenges are useful because you start to realise what the problems are and you also start to see some of the solutions.

“We’re trying to encourage people to take responsibility for their plastic use, and understand it doesn’t just disappear,” he said.

The group has launched a new website to mark the start of the month.

Ben said: “There is a lot of information out there about ways people can cut down plastic waste and about how bad plastics are. We wanted to have a collection of information all together so people can peruse it to learn more.”

He added that recycling plastics does not go far enough in dealing with the problem.

“It’s so important to cut down the plastic we use,” said Ben. “We’ve been sold a myth that recycling is part of or can be part of a closed loop system which is not true.

“There is a nine per cent recycle rate for all our plastic waste and when you look at how stuff is effectively recycled it drops down to something like one per cent. And then consider that you can’t just keep recycling plastic because it degrades. So then what happens with that?

“It’s the system of recycling that is part of the problem. This is why we support a system of zero waste. Recycling slows down the rate of pollution, but that’s all it does,” said Ben.

He added that a simple way to take part in the challenge is to start with food purchases.

“A lot of plastic rubbish comes from basic things like food, which is something we all need to buy,” said Ben.

“We’re lucky in Swindon, we have many local farms and shops selling loose food which is a great place to start. Buy loose, unwrapped food and that will really make a difference to the amount of plastic you consume.”

He added: “It can be difficult. Sometimes to remove plastic from your life is actually a choice to remove an aspect from it or remove a product that you use that maybe you really like. But if everyone does a bit that makes a difference.”

Throughout July there will also be events and initiatives. These kick off with an online screening and discussion of the film The Story of Plastic made by The Story of Stuff Project this evening.

“This talks about the dumping of waste from richer countries in poor countries without adequate infrastructure to deal with it properly,” said Ben. “Which is just moving the problem under the carpet.”

The group will also be lobbying for businesses to do more and for more legislation to combat the problem.

“We realise that it’s not just individual responsibility for change to happen,” said Ben. “We need to reorganise our society really. And this campaign is part of ongoing efforts to do that, so it’s positive stuff,” he said.

For more information visit plasticfreeswindon.org/