The plastic problem.


It feels like we are at a tipping point.
A slow creaking tipping point but an important one none the less.
We have finally figured out that single use plastic is a scurge, filling our oceans, poisoning our fish and ending up in our own gut as microplastics that effect our endocrine system and kill us.
Why are we so dumb? So slow to see the obvious and so slow to act?
The UK gets through 170 million tons of single use plastic, mostly used in fast moving consumables like convenience food packaging and bottles, small electrical items and toy packaging. It is mostly all about food though.
UK legislation will ban single use plastic by 2025 but that is another 6 years of kicking the can down the road which is a perplexingly slow solution to a problem that is so obviously a disaster right now.
If the government won’t act quick enough then it is going to be down to you and me and everyone else making more considered purchasing decisions.
So how does that work?
Your part to play in the immediate solution requires that you be present. In that moment when you pick up lunch for the day and you are deciding on whether you are still going Keto or if it is a cheat day and you can go for some processed carbs, you need to examine what the object of your desire is wrapped in.
Usually, the more healthy and unprocessed foods are the ones that are not packaged at all.
The food that grew out of the ground or was running around happily until it was slaughtered can all be purchased plastic free.
Fruit is usually loose, most green veg which can be steamed in your microwave in your staff room is usually loose, water………..comes out of your tap for free, and the butcher will wrap your chicken breasts in greasy paper for you to grill on your Foreman plug in hot plate.
It’s all the crap food that is manufactured by that corporation to satisfy your primeval urge for salt and sugar that is packaged. Often, it is not even food. It was made in a lab.
You are not the only player in this vital game of change.
Small businesses and corporations need to take the lead.
Peculiarly it will be the more nimble, smaller companies that can make a quick change and rethink their packaging. We predict that these small businesses will lead the way.
Shirworks’s contribution to the global problem is to phase out its use of recycled polythene bags for individual t-shirt packaging by the autumn of 2018 and replace them with bags made from cassava or yucca.


 This natural and biodegradable bag is a small step along the way and it is a perfect solution to the problem of plastic in our oceans and landfill that will take 450 years to degrade but it does come with some compromises. These bags need to be shipped all the way from Indonesia with a carbon footprint to match. The bags require soil and space to grow and this requires the use of pesticides and creates an alternative and competitive use for a food source that has been staple carbohydrate for the local population for thousands of years
This is not the only initiative we are introducing into our processes for 2018.
At the moment, most printers use a PVC based oil based ink for all their screen printing processes. Shirtworks has decided to move away from these PVC inks onto a GOTS accredited and Soil Association approved, phthalate free alternative for all of our print processes where we are unable to use a water based ink solution. As far as we know we are the only screen print company in the UK to commit to this. 

The barrier to introducing these initiatives have always been down to cost and the practical application of these ink systems which are more difficult to use.
The only way forward is to embrace the hassle.
The only way to change is to put up with the discomfort.
It is not much of a price to pay to help preserve the rock we are hurtling through space on at 67000 miles per hour from turning into a massive rubbish tip.
Arron Harnden

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