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Local architect poses a challenge: February free from plastics

One week's worth of plastic waste, used and collected by the Wilbur family, is displayed in Wenham, Massachusetts, U.S., May 27, 2018. "We try to reduce our footprint. We all use stainless steel water bottles and bring our own coffee mugs, etc. I try to avoid single use plastics such as straws, cups and bottles, but I'm not always successful," said Brandy. "When shopping, I do try to buy products with minimal packaging, but that's challenging too, everything is packaged!" she added. "I think plastics are increasing, especially the plastics that cannot be recycled like wrappers, products wrapped in plastic wrap, snack bags, etc - all for the convenience factor. We're aware and try our best to reduce our use of plastics but it's hard." REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Could you survive a month without single use plastic?

Local architect and businesswoman Ruth Massias Greenberg together with her colleagues at Gamma Architects have set themselves a challenge of doing exactly that and are inviting the public to also take part.

“We know this will be challenging, we are inviting anyone from the local community who is up for a challenge to join us,” is the request.

#freefromfebruary came about when the team at Gamma decided to try and “survive” the month of February without using single use plastics.

Globally and certainly locally more people are ditching single use plastic bags and plastic straws. However, #freefromfebruary encourages people to go further.

“Vegetables and fruit often come wrapped in single use plastics, as do many other products that we buy in our usual shopping,” said Mrs Massias Greenberg.

“We are trying for the month of February to give that up and find alternatives or be without those items,” she added.

free from feb

The idea is to only buy food that can be bought loose, in recyclable paper or placed in your own reusable bags or containers.

Using the example of broccoli which is often found in the supermarkets either wrapped in plastic or cut up and placed in a plastic bag. By either buying this product from the market or smaller shops where they do not come with plastic or ask the supermarket to start providing it without the plastic.

“Leading up to this month as we were living life there were times when I thought oh what am I going to do with this next month,” said Mrs Massias Greenberg.

“It is either that we have talked about it and found alternatives, for example there is a zero waste shop in La Linea. This is somewhere you can go and refill your own containers with items like beans, and rice.”

In addition to less plastic being used, bulk-buying shops such as this are often cheaper than store bought.

The premise of the task is that it will start to change habits and as alternatives to single use plastics and reduce the environmental impact of the decisions people make daily.

The group have set up a Facebook page where they are encouraging people to share both their experiences and tips for #freefromfebruary

They invite you to “take a picture of all plastic items in your usual weekly shop and share it with use using #myplasticpile #freefromfebruary. Hopefully each week in February our plastic pile will reduce drastically.”