There has been a lot of publicity recently about the environmental impact of plastic pollution. And rightly so. According to the Plastic Oceans Foundation, we are now producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic annually, which is apparently roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity.
Approximately half of the plastic produced is for single use and worryingly, more than eight million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. That’s a huge amount. A lot of this is made up of single-use drinking bottles and drinking straws.
A recent report in the Guardian stated that more than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300bn a decade ago. Estimates from Euromonitor International’s global packaging trends report predict that this figure will increase to 583.3bn by 2021.
The Marine Conservation Society estimates that the UK alone uses 8.5 billion straws a year. Whilst this figure is quite shocking there are already plans to deal with this situation. Companies such as JD Wetherspoon, Wagamama, Costa Coffee, Pizza Express and Waitrose have all started phasing out plastic straws and plans are afoot for the UK government to ban plastic straws altogether.
I find it really disconcerting to hear that we have produced more plastic in the last 10 years than we have in the whole of the last century. Sure plastic is cheap and extremely versatile, but it’s about time we took a good hard look at our disposable modern lifestyle and how it is contributing to the destruction of our environment. We need to make smart material choices if we are going to turn this situation around.
It has been nice to hear about various locations allowing people to refill their water bottles in an attempt to cut down on the amount of single-use plastic bottles we get through. Likewise, Starbucks announced that it will be the first UK coffee chain to add a 5p charge on takeaway coffee cups with a view to reducing the 2.5bn disposable cups we use every year.
From a personal point of view, I would really like to reduce my plastic consumption this year. It’s a difficult thing to do given that practically everything we buy these days comes wrapped in layer after layer of plastic packaging. Does a cucumber really need to be shrink-wrapped? Do I really need individually wrapped avocados? No, no I don’t. But there are some areas where we can make better decisions and smart material choices.
That’s why I decided to work with Black+Blum on their #DesignForHealth campaign. I wholeheartedly believe that the environment we live in can help to support our health and wellness. For decades now, rampant consumerism has led to the creation of a throwaway society characterised by over-consumption and excessive production of poor quality disposable items.
But I think that the tide may be starting to turn. I believe we’re finally starting to realise the destructive nature of mass consumption and as a result, we’re looking for more sustainable, renewable and recyclable options when it comes to our material choices. I believe this is probably what is driving the current trend for natural materials.
Black+Blum’s BOX APPETIT range features a number of products that are plastic-free, instead of utilising more natural materials. The products that I chose to feature in this post are all made from stainless steel. Characterised by its high levels of durability, stainless steel is a great alternative to plastic. Its inherent natural strength and extremely high levels of thermal insulation, make it a perfect material for a range of food storage and transportation products.
Unlike plastic containers that often contain harmful BPAs, there is no risk of this with stainless steel. I was able to try out the brand new lunch box which is Black+Blum’s first truly leak-proof stainless steel lunch box. It is a 3-in-1, multi-functional lunch box allowing you to transport your lunch, cook dishes in the oven, and even store pre-cooked meals in a freezer.
It has a small valve on the top, a divider to separate the main cavity into two and finally, there is a silicone strap which is used to secure the lid onto the box. One thing I really liked about this was that the stainless steel fork that comes with it can slide into the silicone strap keeping it nicely attached to the lunchbox.
I was also able to try out the stainless steel sandwich box which features a bamboo lid. Bamboo is not only extremely sustainable, being one of the fastest growing plants in the world (certain species of bamboo can grow 91 cm within a 24-hour period…crazy!) but it is also extremely durable, water-resistant and naturally anti-bacterial.
The lid can be used as a chopping board or as a serving board. There is also a silicone strap with this lunchbox for added security but it is worth noting that this box is not leakproof.
The Thermo Pot is one of my favourite items from the BOX APPETIT range. It is quite a large food thermos and can hold up to half a litre. What I like most about it is the cork lid. I’m a huge cork fan and have been for some time now. Again, cork is a sustainable product that is both renewable and recyclable. It is an abundant resource which can regenerate far quicker than we can use it (each tree that is stripped will be ready to harvest again in 9-12 years).
Cork is an excellent choice of material for a thermos as it has impressive thermal insulation properties and can keep the contents hot for up to 6 hrs and cold for up to 8 hrs. I also like the fact that there is a ladle spoon that attaches to the body of the thermos with magnets. A great way to ensure that you don’t forget your spoon.
The final product that I had the pleasure of testing is the stainless steel water bottle. The utilitarian design really appealed to me as this bottle will definitely stand up to the wear and tear of being lugged around on a daily basis. The lid is made from polypropylene and silicone and there is a little strap that secures the cap to the bottle that is made from vegan leather. This strap also acts as a carry strap. I must say I’m intrigued by the idea of vegan leather and I’ll definitely be looking more into this as an alternative to traditional leather.
The reason I wanted to work on this campaign with Black+Blum is because I’m trying really hard at the moment to be more organised and take my lunch into the office with me instead of buying it. Not only will I save money in doing so but I’ll also be doing something good for the environment by not creating so much waste.
I quite often end up buying a sandwich and a bottle of water or orange juice for lunch (and some vegetable crisps if I’m feeling a bit naughty). I do feel bad chucking my plastic bottle straight in the bin each time. I’ll be much better off using products like these that allow me to bring my own healthy lunch in from home and refill my water bottle once empty. If we all do our bit and make smart material choices, I’m sure it wouldn’t take too much effort to reduce the 150 million tons of single-use plastic that we produce each year. Just look what happened when we started charging for plastic bags. It can be done!
What do you guys think? Are you trying to reduce your plastic consumption too? Are you trying to make smart material choices by opting for materials that are sustainable, renewable and recyclable?