By Mariana Trusson

The first time I saw “A Plastic Ocean” I was alone. I left the screening feeling angry and thoroughly helpless but determined to make changes. I did make changes. The second time, I watched it with my 9 year old and spent the majority of the documentary comforting a terrified child who had just realised that horror films are nothing compared to the realities of modern life. He became determined to make changes, and he did, although I couldn’t wean him off the nerf guns… yet. The last time, it was screened in Cundall’s Edinburgh office, as part of our sustainability roadmap launch, and this time I opted to watch the audience. Unsurprisingly there were a lot of determined faces.

The question we have all asked after each screening, what can we do as individuals and businesses to reduce the amount of non-essential plastic and change our attitudes towards it. As an office, we have made the move to swap plastic milk bottles to reusable glass bottles, a recommendation made by Sustainability engineer, Scott O’Hara.

The price was investigated and it was indeed considerably higher. My heart sank as I expected that the big “it’s too expensive” label would be slapped on yet another initiative and that would be the end of that. But I was going through a cynical phase I guess because this is Cundall and we get stuff sorted.

We need to change attitudes towards plastic and to do this we need to educate and make sacrifices. We re-evaluated a couple of other plastic using practices, made small changes here and there and hey presto! We now have lovely glass bottles of milk delivered twice weekly in a cost neutral way.

  • Yes – it does taste better when its been stored just in glass. The same cannot be said for milk decanted from plastic to glass.
  • Yes – this scheme/initiative/practice is heavily dependent on our behaviour and on us doing the rinsing and returning religiously.
  • Yes – this has and will continue to make a difference to our plastic consumption as an office and as individuals and has certainly helped address our attitudes to what and how we use plastic.

I would agree that this is a relatively small step towards reducing our plastic consumption and waste – but we have made it not as a token gesture, but merely as step one of many. It’s worth it on so many levels, but most fun of all for me… the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I see clean lines of milk bottles in the fridge set out like an art exhibit, and know that they will be deliciously cool to the touch and ever so tasty in my coffee.

What are you doing to help reduce non-essential plastic?

Read more about what Cundall is doing to address sustainability in our Sustainability Roadmap, One Planet One Chance here

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. What a great read – thank you Mariana. We’ll have to make sure you share this win with the SusTeams in other Cundall Offices. I’m curious to know what your re-evaluation process involved and what amendments were made to ‘other plastic using practices’ to allow the purchase of glass bottled milk.

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  2. Kate,

    We looked at the costs of all the office consumables (milk, fruit, biscuits, coffee etc.) and found that we could change the way we purchase fruit and biscuits and changed coffee supplier, and it worked!

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  3. Fantastic Mariana – well done. Having read your blog, the Birmingham SusTeam have now flagged your initiative as something they would like to investigate for their own office.

    One question that was asked was what is the carbon footprint of a re-useable glass milk bottle vs a single use but recyclable milk bottle?

    Is this something on which you can shed some light?

    Thanks very much,

    Kate

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Cundall Initiatives, Mariana Trusson, Sustainability

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