Plastic Challenge 2017
July 19, 2017 – 11:17 am | 4 Comments

What is the challenge?
June 2017 was officially the Marine Conservation Society’s  ‘Plastic Challenge’ month.
This is the third year of the challenge, which encourages people to pledge to cut down the amount of single-use plastics they …

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Plastic Challenge 2017
July 19, 2017 – 11:17 am | 4 Comments

What is the challenge?

June 2017 was officially the Marine Conservation Society’s  ‘Plastic Challenge’ month.

This is the third year of the challenge, which encourages people to pledge to cut down the amount of single-use plastics they use, for as long as they can.

Single-use plastics are used in lots of everyday items we buy these days. From the moment we wake up we’re using plastic; to brush our teeth, to store and buy food, and to wash and clean.

Tell me about plastic!

First invented 110 years ago in 1907, most plastic is derived from petrochemicals, and due to its molecular composition it has a very slow decomposition rate.

Plastics are relatively low cost; they are easy to manufacture, versatile, durable, lightweight and impermeable to water. There is no denying they have revolutionised our lives… from clothing and shelter, to transportation and health care, their uses are vast.

But the benefits of plastic do not come without problems. The non-renewable resources used to make them, and the fact they can persist for hundreds to thousands of years in the environment, mean they pose a massive threat to sustainability.

The problem?

It is now thought that new plastics will consume 20% of all oil production within 35 years, up from an estimated 5% today[1].

Despite the growing demand, it is thought that just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, while 40% end up in landfill, and a third in fragile ecosystems such as the world’s oceans.

Many types of plastic can be recycled, but much of it isn’t. It is still not easy for consumers to recycle all of their plastic waste, neither is it clear to many what kind of plastics are acceptable to be put in a council recycling bin, and which plastics have to be taken to recycling centres.

Even when we think our rubbish is going to landfill, it is now estimated that every year at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the oceans – the equivalent of dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.

Just let that sink in…

Yet the plastic doesn’t always sink, it gathers and forms huge ‘garbage patches’ in the world’s oceans. One well known example is the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, a gigantic mass of plastic and other waste materials that has gradually formed as a result of ocean currents. Despite what many believe, the patch is not a massive visible garbage island, the plastic has been broken down into even smaller polymers suspended in the upper water column. These polymers attract chlorinated dioxins which are eaten by marine life, and in turn can enter the human food chain potentially causing serious health issues.

And the wildlife too?

Larger items can be a threat to sea life such as turtles and seals, who swallow them or get tangled up in them.

Marine plastic pollution has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species. The impacts include fatalities as a result of ingestion, starvation, suffocation, infection, drowning, and entanglement.[2]


“In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish [by weight].” [3]

So what now?

In the UK it is estimated that 5 million tonnes of plastic alone is being used every year, and over a third of this is used for packaging.

The Plastic Challenge is not trying to stop people from using ALL forms of plastic, that would be impossible! It is set up to make people start thinking about the resources they are using and stop taking them for granted.

Plastic Challengers are spreading the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ message to try and encourage people to reduce the amount of plastic entering the environment. The focus is on single-use plastics, many of which are unnecessary and avoidable with a little thought.

Many of us are so used to a lifestyle of convenience, grabbing food on the go and disposing of the packaging on the go too. Juggling busy lives often means people do not think about the environmental impacts of their purchases.

Once people stop and look at what they are consuming, it can often be a shock to see the amount of single-use plastic used every day. Obviously some things are easier to cut out or replace than others, and a lot may depend on where you live and what you have access to.

What can I do?

Lots! There are many ways you can reduce your single-use plastic consumption. Some of the quick and easy ones that everyone can fit into their lives are using reusable cups and bottles for water and hot drinks on the go. Reusable shopping bags are now the norm for most people, especially since the carrier bag charge came in, and the choice of styles and designs is huge.

If you want to really make a difference, we’ve listed some more things you might like to think about.

Cotton Buds Swap plastic ones for paper
Toothbrush Use bamboo instead of plastic
Wipes Swap to biodegradable or cloth reusables
Hand wash Use bars of soap instead
Straws Swap plastic ones for stainless steel reusable straws
Fruit and Veg

Buy loose items and use reusable produce bags

DY097 – Cotton Buds

NF582/NF750/NF150 – Suma Bags

NF616/NF642/NF660 – Environmental Toothbrushes

DY790/DY789… Humble Toothbrushes

DY452….All the Suma Soaps

This list is by no means exhaustive and the plastic-free movement is growing, there are many websites and blogs dedicated to ideas to cut out plastic from all areas of your life.

Here at Suma a group of us took the Plastic Challenge pledge during June and really got involved in reducing our plastic use.

  • Laura really saw the benefits of her beautiful allotment.
  • Susan and her children swapped their online food shops for trips to their local farm shop.
  • Adam and his family found being on holiday abroad difficult, but they did find some loose soap!
  • Sarah got into drinking loose leaf tea to avoid teabags.
  • Becs switched to bamboo toothbrushes and swapped soap dispensers for hand soap.
  • Alex became a regular at her local market, getting all her fruit and vegetable plastic-free

You can also get involved by visiting the Marine Conservation Society’s website, where you can see all of their campaigns and find out how you can make a difference. As part of our ethical listing policy we do aim to source products with minimal environmental impact in terms of production, transportation and packaging, and we aim to promote a market for new and innovative green products. Of course there is a long way to go, but we are excited to be part of a positive change.


[1] Ellen MacArthur Foundation report launched at the World Economic Forum

[2] D.W. Laist, “Impacts of marine debris: entanglement of marine life in marine debris including a comprehensive list of species with entanglement and ingestion records,” in Coe, J.M. Rogers, D.B. (eds), Marine Debris: Sources, Impacts, and Solutions: Springer-Verlag, New York, (1997) 99-139

[3] The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics (2016) – The Ellen Macarthur Foundation

Pea soup quality issues – we’re on the case
June 16, 2017 – 5:18 am | No Comment
Pea soup quality issues – we’re on the case

If you’ve had some of our pea soup with the best before date of November 2018 and found it a bit thin, we’re very sorry about this.

Co-operatives Fortnight 2017
June 2, 2017 – 9:17 am | No Comment
Co-operatives Fortnight 2017

Running from 17th June to 1st July Co-operatives Fortnight 2017 hopes to once again promote that co-operating makes a big difference and that it is time to remind the rest of the UK. For this year’s Co-operatives Fortnight, people are being asked to share their stories of co-operation, these will subsequently be shared on social media.

Protected: Christmas Brochure
May 23, 2017 – 1:51 pm | Enter your password to view comments.
Protected: Christmas Brochure

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We’re recruiting!
May 20, 2017 – 10:27 am | No Comment
We’re recruiting!

Class C Driver – Greenford UB6
With the Southeast becoming increasingly busy for us, and our plans for Christmas 2017 already taking shape, we need to strengthen our London driving team.

 We currently have a vacancy for …

National Vegetarian Week 15th – 21st May 2017
May 17, 2017 – 11:36 am | No Comment
National Vegetarian Week 15th – 21st May 2017

Suma Supports National Vegetarian Week
We are proud to be supporting this annual week which celebrates the many benefits of a vegetarian diet, and encourages more people to give it a try.
This year The Vegetarian Society …

Coeliac Awareness Week 8th – 14th May
May 8, 2017 – 10:38 am | No Comment
Coeliac Awareness Week 8th – 14th May

Coeliac Awareness Week
Coeliac Awareness Week is between the 8th – 14th May, which helps to raise people’s understanding of the disease and the profile of gluten-free alternatives.

Coeliac UK
Coeliac UK are an independent charity helping people …

The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2017 – Recognition for our co-operative achievements
April 21, 2017 – 8:09 am | 2 Comments
The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2017 – Recognition for our co-operative achievements

The Queen’s Awards are amongst the most prestigious awards in UK, designed to celebrate the outstanding achievements of British businesses. We’ve been recognized for our strong, continued growth in international sales as well as our co-operative ethos and great employment benefits, such as equal pay for all workers and flexible working.

“Strength in Numbers” IPA launched to celebrate Suma’s 40th birthday
April 4, 2017 – 11:10 am | No Comment
“Strength in Numbers” IPA launched to celebrate Suma’s 40th birthday

We’re delighted to introduce our limited edition birthday beer ‘Strength in Numbers’ organic IPA, brewed to celebrate our 40th birthday.
This special edition IPA is robust, enduring and perfectly blended; the liquid embodiment of our co-operative heritage. It’s …

Editor’s Letter
April 4, 2017 – 10:06 am | 3 Comments
Editor’s Letter

So 2017 is off to a promising start, and we’ve got positive vibes about how the rest of the year will pan out. As the days get gradually lighter, Suma workers are starting to emerge …

Nature’s Own independent health store initiative
March 24, 2017 – 11:55 am | No Comment
Nature’s Own independent health store initiative

As part of the initiative to support independent health stores, the Nature’s Own packaging has been refreshed, in line with the bright new future ahead of the brand. The new look bottles were filtered in to stores throughout February and March.