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Turtle swimming in litter




Each year we produce 300 million tons of plastic globally, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle from production to refining to the way it is managed as a waste product. Plastic takes hundreds of years to biodegrade and single-use plastic bags have been found in the world’s deepest ocean trench.

It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.

Together, we can all make small changes to reverse the damage that plastic consumption has caused our planet.

This challenge is all about understanding your own plastic consumption, how you might be able to reduce it and discovering new creative ways to reuse plastics to add value to the environment.

Plastic bottles


With any journey it’s important to know where your starting point is. This is no different with the positive environmental journey you have embarked upon by participating in the Groundwork eco-challenge.

We need to understand our starting point– what we’re doing right, what we could be doing more of, even what we might be doing wrong – so that we can determine what areas we should be focusing on and changing in order to bring about positive environmental benefits in your life.

Step 1: How much plastic do you consume at home?

The first part of the plastic challenge is to keep a plastic diary, either for yourself, or for your entire household. Try and keep the diary for a week. Once you’ve got a better idea of how much plastic you are using then please complete the Greenpeace plastics calculator which will calculate how much plastic you potentially use over the course of a year.

Greenpeace plastics calculator

If you’re out shopping see how many plastic free options you could go with, and always remember to use recycled shopping bags where possible.

Plastic coffee cup

Step 2: Upcycling

More than 100 million plastic bottles are used worldwide every day and every one that isn’t recycled or incinerated can take up to 450 years to biodegrade in the environment. Reusable drinking bottles are increasingly popular but there is another option – upcycle.

Upcycling is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless or unwanted products into new products of better quality and environmental value.

Here are two quick ways that you can transform your waste plastic bottles but there are many more!

Your challenge is to upcycle some of your plastic waste, either by using one of the methods below or by getting creative and coming up with your own idea!

Hanging Plastic Planter:

  1. You’ll need some scissors, string and a small plastic drinks bottle.
  2. Take off the label and cut off the top of the bottle, just under half way up.
  3. Cut 8 lines down (approx. 2cm) and fold them out into 8 equal sections.
  4. Snip each section into a curved petal shape.
  5. Cut 4 pieces of string a metre long each
  6. Tie each piece of string underneath the bottle cap.
  7. Make sure the knots are spread out equally.
  8. Cross over each of the strings with its neighbour.
  9. Tie a knot at the top of the planter, around the petal (repeat 4 times on alternative petals).
  10. Pop in some soil or compost and some seeds, or some small flowers and your planter is complete.
  11. Feel free to tie more knots wherever you like, then hang it.
Plastic bottle hanging basket

Self-watering Planter

  1. You’ll need some scissors, a 2 litre plastic drinks bottle, some thick cotton, and a drill.
  2. Start with the 2 litre bottle and cut off the top third.
  3. Take off the cap and safely drill two ¼-inch holes in it.
  4. From the inside of the cap, poke the ends of a short length (ours was about 4 inches long) of ¼-inch cotton rope through each hole. The ends should be long enough that when you screw the cap back on and put the planter in place they will reach the bottom of the reservoir.
  5. Leave a loop of rope inside the cap so it will stick up an inch or two into the soil.
  6. Once you have the lengths adjusted, screw the cap back on.
  7. Add water, and slip the top of the bottle into the bottom part as you see in the photo.
  8. Fill it with potting mix and add the plant, some herbs or seeds. You can lift the top portion out when you need to add water, or cut a small hole in the side of the base so it’s even easier to refill.
Self watering planter

Don't forget to enter the competition!

Post a photo on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #groundworkecochallenge

or email us at showing us your completed challenges.

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