Glenn Harris and his daughter with Katya Jones on BBC Morning Live

Strictly Come Dancing star, Katya Jones, visited the University campus to discuss how we're getting involved with Plastic Free July this year.

  • 20 July 2022
  • 4 min read

On Thursday 14 July, University staff and their family members were featured on BBC Morning Live.

Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris, Glenn Harris and Dr Cressida Bowyer were filmed by BBC One discussing their experiences of trying Plastic Free July, an annual event where millions of people try to avoid using single-use plastics in day-to-day life.

We were delighted to welcome Katya Jones, best known as a professional dancer from Strictly Come Dancing who was presenting the report, to the University campus.

Saving pennies and saving the planet at the same time

The daily morning TV programme featured just some of our staff that are taking on the challenge. This included Glenn Harris, Senior Media Manager, who took part with his wife and two young children, and Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris, Dean of Learning and Teaching, and her husband. 

The two households pledged to try not to use any single-use plastics from 1-7 July. They started by looking at the plastics they use in daily life. Glenn explained: “On a daily basis we’ll use sandwich bags to make the children’s lunches, a lot of toiletries in plastic bottles for both us and the children, and cleaning products for the house. Even the kids' toys are mostly made from plastic.”

The Harris family took part in Plastic Free July

Glenn Harris, Senior Media Manager, took part with his wife and two young children.

Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris with Katya Jones on BBC Morning Live

Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris, pictured here with presenter Katya Jones, tried Plastic Free July with her husband and their dog, Toto.

Harriet discovered that they use quite a lot of plastics related to cooking, such as herbs and spices which tend to come in plastic packaging. Another common item that was challenging to replace was poo bags for their dog, Toto, which tend to be made from plastic. 

The volunteers kept video diaries to record the trials and triumphs during their plastic-free week.

For Glenn’s family, the first trip to the supermarket proved a challenge. Glenn said: “I found some plastic-free products but they were about four times the price!” However, later in the week Glenn found some affordable zero plastic alternatives, including a bar of soap and shave stick in cardboard packaging and a shampoo bar. These came at a fraction of the cost of their usual products in plastic packaging meaning Glenn’s family are “saving pennies, but saving the planet at the same time.”

I thought that plastic free alternatives would be more expensive — some are but we’re actually saving money in other areas so it balances out.

Glenn Harris, Plastic Free July participant

Harriet had a breakthrough when she visited her nearest plastic-free supermarket in Portsmouth. Summarising her experience of Plastic Free July, Harriet explained: “I think it has made us view our household with fresh eyes — looking at what we already have and how we can reuse it. We have noticeably less waste in our recycling bin since we started the challenge.”

Dr Cressida Bowyer, Deputy Director of Revolution Plastics, also explained the wider issue of plastic pollution around the world and shared top tips for reducing plastic waste.

You can watch the feature on BBC iPlayer, starting at 10 minutes into the programme.

Large pile of plastic waste

Every year the UK generates an estimated 5 million tons of plastic waste — less than half is recycled.

Plastic Free July logo 2022What is Plastic Free July?

This month an estimated 140 million people from 190 countries will take part in Plastic Free July

Whether it’s discovering plastic-free toiletries, food storage or even party decorations, there are lots of ways we can all play our part. 

The University is supporting the campaign as part of its Revolution Plastics initiative, which is dedicated to finding solutions to the world’s plastic problem. 

Professor Steve Fletcher, Director of Revolution Plastics said: “Taking notice of how many single-use plastics you encounter, and avoiding them where possible, can collectively make a big difference. Even if you try the challenge for a few days, you may find alternatives and form new habits that you’ll keep.”

Join the challenge

There’s still time to sign up for Plastic Free July. Why not challenge your family, team or department to have a go, even if only for one day? 

If you take part, let us know how you get on via Twitter or email