by Silvia Paracchini, Jess Enright, Heidi Burdett, and Emilie Combet
In December, the Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) turned their eyes to plastics, in line with their “Sustainable” theme.
In a snap Twitter campaign, members explored what each of us could do, focusing on a tricky month.
Christmas is one of the most exciting times of the year, but it is also the worse one for generating plastic waste; just consider the quantity of plastic presents in plastic packaging, in plastic wraps, carried in plastic bags. Throughout December, YAS members shared their tips and ideas, under the #ReducePlasticTips hashtag on Twitter.
“We have all become aware of this problem and people have started changing their behaviours in their everyday actions. But are we doing as much as we can? We use so much plastic that we do not even realise it. By sharing our own ways to tackling plastic consumption, we can all learn from each other, adjust what we do on a daily basis and maybe inspire others.” said Silvia Paracchini, who led the initiative.
An average of 10 tweets per day, shared by YAS members and beyond, with almost 1000 'likes', covered both a wide breadth of ideas and generated discussion.
Some tips have been around for a while and it is great to see that are increasingly becoming established habits. For example, more and more people are seen around city centre coffee shops with their reusable coffee mug, water bottle and carrier bags. These habits have been largely incentivised by money-saving policies; we are all happy to save 5p by using our own bags or getting a coffee discount. But they clearly demonstrate that we can easily adjust our behaviour and can do more.
For example, many tips showed the benefits of so-called naked products. We discovered many companies selling plastic-free products. But which ones to choose? Some of us switched to naked-products during the campaign.
Food and drink solutions included sandwich wrappers and metal straw options.
We covered work-related ideas, such as catering options and discussions around the amount of plastic wasted at conferences in shining and, most of the time, useless freebies and lanyards.
Given the festive time, we shared lots of plastic-free shopping, presents and wrapping ideas
The key tip is to buy less things and invest more in time and experiences.
This applies throughout the year as it is becoming clear that recycling is not really the solution.
The campaign has been a great success through shared knowledge and ideas, fostering a supportive network letting users learn from each other. It is certain that the plastic problem is much bigger than Christmas presents and YAS did not expect to solve it overnight, but the campaign highlighted that we can all play our part in taking action and increasing awareness around us.