Let’s be honest, there’s no easy way to break up with plastic. It’s in our oceans, in our water and it’s killing our marine life. But thanks (in part) to the success of Blue Planet II, plastic pollution has now become a major environmental concern.
The thought of living without plastic can be overwhelming so start out by making these small lifestyle changes. With the rise of eco-friendly, reusable alternatives, it’s easier than ever before to get started. Here are some great ways to reduce your plastic waste.
You’re on a night out, waiting at the bar for your cocktail and when it’s finally placed in front of you, there’s SEVEN straws in your glass. Why?
We use them for a couple of minutes in most cases and yet research predicts they take 200 years to break down. Plus, most of us only drink from one straw, right?
Of course, not all straws end up in the ocean (or in landfill) but half of the battle is tackling the demand for single-use plastic items.
If everyone reduced their dependency on plastic then we wouldn’t get as much waste product and (fingers crossed) it wouldn’t continue to pollute our planet?
Some of us may not have a choice in the matter. The government are now proposing to ban plastic straws in England to cut down on plastic waste. This is a massive positive shift.
In the mean time, why not try asking for your drinks without a straw? Or when you’re next out shopping, swap a pack of plastic straws for biodegradable ones.
These small acts may seem like a drop in the ocean (pun totally intended there) but it means that one less person adds to the mountain of plastic being thrown away every day.
And believe me, you’re not alone in your efforts. It WILL make a difference.
2. Plastic-free alternatives in the kitchen
Until recently, we have been dependent on single-use options like tin foil and cling film in the kitchen. Although the amounts we use may seem small when we’re wrapping up sandwiches, leftovers etc, it all adds to the problem.
Pay a visit to your local kitchenware shop (Lakeland is a great example) and you’ll find some fantastic alternatives including paper food bags, reusable food covers, glass containers and more.
Instead of reaching for the cling film or foil, why not try a sandwich wrap? Made from cotton and a washable lining, you can reuse it again and again (and not just for sandwiches.)
Or when you need to cover the leftovers in the fridge, try using some food wrap. It’s usually made from a combination of organic cotton and beeswax which is great for keeping food fresh and gripping round bowls or tubs. Want to use it again? Just rinse it with warm water and wash with mild soap and you’re good to go.
Another way to reduce your single-use plastic consumption starts with your local shop or supermarket. Most of us have used plastic bags to hold fresh fruit and veg or nuts/seeds, right? Canvas or reusable mesh bags can do the job just as well and help to reduce your carbon footprint when shopping.
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3. Carry a reusable water bottle or reusable coffee cup
The great thing about this tip is that you don’t even have to buy two separate containers for your drinks.
For a relatively small expense, you can get your hands on a good quality flask that can keep your coffee hot or your water ice cold.
A lot of disposable hot drink cups, even though seemingly made from cardboard, can be deceiving and are often not recyclable.
If you’re a lover of ‘on the go’ coffee, it’s also becoming really easy to use a reusable cup. Most coffee chains are actually encouraging it.
Starbucks recently started a three-month coffee cup charge trial across 35 London branches. Known as the “Latte Levy”, customers are being charged an extra 5p for using single-use cups.
In January, Pret A Manger doubled the discount for customers using reusable cups in an effort to reduce waste.
Some great reusable coffee cup brands include:
4. Reusable shopping bags
Keep some resuable bags in the car or by your front door so you remember them when going out. If you do have to buy one (we’ve all been there), try to choose a paper alternative.
The introduction of the 5p bag charge has undoubtedly helped cut down on the amount of plastic bag waste in the UK.
But I believe it now takes that extra bit of effort from all of us to keep the reusable lifestyle going. Do we really need a small bag with our lunch? Or the plastic bag for our take-away?
The decision to help in the fight against unnecessary waste is in the every day things. Your weekly or monthly shop are great starting points.
5. Plastic-free beauty and sanitary products
Have you ever wondered how much plastic goes into making cotton buds, toothpicks and toothbrushes?
Or how much plastic and toxic waste comes from tampons, panty liners and sanitary pads? According to the Women’s Environmental Network, these sanitary products alone produce more than 200,000 tons of waste per year.
The current crisis in our oceans is one clear sign that plastic is not the way forward. Luckily, there are loads of environmentally-friendly products out there which can turn any bathroom into a plastic-free paradise.
Mooncup is an eco-friendly alternative to tampons and sanitary pads. Fancy spending less on sanitary products each month? It can save you money too as it’s reusable and made to last for years.
Bamboo toothbrushes are now widely available online. Organic, sustainable and biodegradable, these earth-friendly brushes are a fantastic alternative to the everyday plastic toothbrush. Some even have BPA free bristles which is an added bonus!
Now for my favourite find…
Surfers Against Sewage are now selling bamboo cotton buds! For just £2.50, you can grab yourself a recycled box of 100% plastic free and biodegradable cotton buds. What a fantastic alternative!
So it just goes to show that a life without so much plastic IS possible. In the not so distant future, I hope our dependency on this toxic stuff can be greatly cut down.