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Plastic Free July

This month is Plastic Free July, a global campaign dedicated to raising awareness of plastic pollution while providing solutions and resources aiming towards ‘cleaner streets, oceans and beautiful communities’. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste is released into the oceans from coastal nations. These plastics are broken down by sunlight, wind and wave action into small particles known as microplastics, which have been found in every corner of the globe, from the highest peak (Mount Everest) to the deepest trough (the Mariana Trench [1]. If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050 [2].

Plastics are often hard to recycle. It is estimated that, of the 8.3 billion tonnes of virgin plastic produced worldwide, only 9% has been recycled. Therefore, the best way to tackle plastic pollution is avoidance where possible and attempting to shop plastic free. Our society doesn’t make this an easy task with plastic packaging in abundance at UK supermarkets (individual cucumbers wrapped in plastic really irks me!!) However, below, we have outlined a guide to begin your low-waste shopping journey and added a few of our favourite local shops that offer plastic free alternatives.

If you would like to learn how to reduce your plastic consumption, the Plastic Free July website, provides an abundance of tips and resources including where to start, next steps, tips for at work, at school, at events and for businesses. There is even a section on food shopping and choosing to refuse groceries that use single-use plastic packaging [3].

If you’re new to plastic free shopping, there are a number of easy swaps to make including:

  • Dried goods (rice, chickpeas, pasta etc)

  • Dried fruit and nuts

  • Cereals

  • Baking ingredients (flour, sugar, etc)

  • Cleaning products

Take a peek back at our refill shops around Newcastle’ blog post [4] which highlights some of the refill shops in our local area on a handy map and will help you on your Plastic Free July Journey. This post also includes member hints and tips (we made the mistakes, so you don’t have to!) which includes the tip of taking your own container to refill – this avoids paper bags and means you get just the right amount.

Something Good - 265 Jesmond Road, Jesmond, NE2 1LB

Set up first by the lovely owner Lauren as a stall at Tynemouth market in 2019 and has now grown into a beautiful store in Jesmond. A quick peek at the website tells the story of Something Good:

"Our little shop brings together all of the products we use ourselves to make our everyday routine a little less wasteful, and a little more sustainable! Everything we sell is tried, tested, tasted and loved by us, so we can make it simple and affordable for you to make some small changes, too."

The motivation to start up Something Good came to owner Lauren and her family watching documentaries about the amount of waste we produce in our modern convenience culture and decided to take action.

Shopping at Something Good is an easy process; you can browse the website, add desired products to your basket then pick a collection time and date at the checkout.

In store and online you will find a HUGE selection of dried goods including dried fruit, spices, pasta, rice, beans, chickpeas, even loose tea and coffee beans and recently added nutritional yeast – a vegan staple. You’ll also find refill cleaning products including hand soap, washing detergent, washing up liquid, fabric conditioner and floor cleaner.

Something Good’s latest initiative (which I’m very excited about!) is Oat m*lk refills in glass bottles! Oats require a fraction of the water and land needed to produce dairy milk which means this product has no plastic packaging AND is better for the environment.

109 General Store – 109 Heaton Park Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5NR

Next up! We have 109 General Store located in Heaton which you can find on Facebook and Instagram. They are open 9am-4pm on weekdays and 9am-3.30pm on Saturday. The in-store experience can be described as:

“little bit of planet friendly retail therapy and a little natter.”

At 109 General Store again you will again find a great selection of dried goods including oats, pasta, legumes (their pun “it’s not all doom and legume” is a personal favourite of mine). You will also find in store a whole wall of canned goods and a wonderful selection of locally grown fruit and veg.

You can also pick up fresh bread stocked from Fresh Artisan Bakery from Wednesday to Saturday, but you’ll have to be quick if you plan to go at the weekend as it sells out very fast!

Additionally, they have a fresh milk dispenser which can be collected in glass bottles and refilled each time you pop back.

BONUS they take song requests in store while you shop and WILL sing along with you – iconic.

Grate Jesmond – 252 Jesmond Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE2 1LD

Grate is an independent cheesemonger in Jesmond, they are champions of local and British cheese and offer an amazing variety of cheese including a selection of vegan cheese.

They also offer a selection of extras to go along with your cheese including bread, crackers (gluten free options too!), olives and tasty chutney.

Grate facilitates plastic free shopping by allowing you to bring your own containers along to the shop rather than wrapping your cheese in plastic. You can also take along beeswax wraps to contain your cheese, some of which are on sale in Grate handmade in Newcastle by ‘Drawn by Rhiannon’. Do pop by to grab yourself some amazing local cheese and shop plastic free.

Block & Bottle - 188 Heaton Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE6 5HP

If you’re still a keen meat eater but would like to reduce your plastic consumption and eat more sustainably reared meat do check out award winning butcher Block & Bottle located in Heaton.

Be warned: as the most popular butcher in town there’s ALWAYS a queue, but it is definitely worth the wait! The meat at Block & Bottle is locally sourced, free range and grass fed and can be wrapped in paper to avoid plastic packaging.

They also have a selection of local veggies and focus on highlighting craft beer from the North East and UK breweries.

Get involved

Have you discovered any other shops/businesses in the area committed to offering plastic free solutions? What swaps have you made recently to help the environment and go plastic free? Let us know over on our twitter @ClimateNCL or email us.


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1 Comment

Lauren Wedderburn
Lauren Wedderburn
Jul 16, 2021

What an amazing article ! Thanks so much for including us. Aren't we lucky to be part of such a wonderful community of businesses that are all doing so much to reduce plastic waste ...!

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