10 Ways To Reduce Your Plastic Waste in a Plastic Rich World
It is estimated that UK citizens produce on average 76kg of plastic waste a year. With plastic taking hundreds of years to degrade, it is up to us to try and reduce the amount of plastic pollution in order to protect and improve the environment for future generations. The easiest way everyone can start this is at home. By making small changes in our lifestyle habits, we can greatly reduce our personal plastic wastage and start making the difference we need to see in the world.
Here are 10 ways you can cut down on your plastic footprint:
1. Carry a refillable water bottle
It is estimated that we use 7.7 billion water bottles a year, just in the UK. By carrying a refillable bottle, this will greatly reduce the number of bottles your throw away a year. Plus tap water is free!
2. Stop Using Plastic Straws
This is a big one, especially in the UK and you have probably already been badgered about it. It has been estimated that we use 8.5 billion straws a year. Plastic straws (and stirrers) take around 200 years to decompose and if that is not enough they can also be negative health affects such as tooth cavities and painful bloating. If you need to use a straw, use a paper one with companies like McDonalds, Weatherspoons and Costa having already made the switch.
3. Use a travel mug
2.5 billion coffee cups are being binned per year. Switching to a reusable mug is an easy way to make a start on reducing your plastic footprint. A lot of coffee shops are now offering a discount for drinks ordered in reusable mugs so if you would rather personally see a benefit, it will save you a bit of money as well.
4. Thinking about the packaging your food comes in
It has been known for years that black food trays cannot be recycled however, when doing your weekly food shop, plastic packaging should be avoided as far as possible to reduce overall plastic wastage. This can be as easy as switching from pet food pouch to tins (which are also cheaper) or buying fruit and veg loose rather than pre-packaged (which can also work out cheaper). When deciding between 2 brands for a particular item, consider the packaging it comes in and hopefully you will start to change the way you shop.
The best way to reduce is to reuse. This stops you buying more product to act as a long lasting alternative. You can reuse an old ‘disposable’ water bottle rather than buying another one. Reuse old plastic shopping bags instead of purchasing more durable substitutes such as burlap shoppers. Rather than wrapping your sandwiches in clingfilm, reach for the Tupperware instead. Once you start reusing, you will find uses for all sorts of containers you would otherwise have thrown away.
6. Stop Using Tea Bags
A little known fact: teabags are sealed with polypropylene and although there are other options such as Teapigs, the best solution is to use loose leaf tea with a metal tea strainer. Once you have got your brew, either put the strainer to one side for another cup later or throw the loose leaf into your food bin or compost.
7. Think about your cleaning products
Whilst the main theme of this post is to reduce your plastic waste, it is also worth thinking about the chemicals you pour down your sink or toilet and the impact that has. There are now a number of eco-friendly cleaning alternatives that use nearly all natural ingredients and do not cause any harm to the environment once they have been flushed away. A great company is Splosh who not only use eco friendly ingredients, but they have also addressed the bottle problem. You buy one set of cleaning product bottles for life (which arrive full) and then when you run out, simply order refills and reuse your bottles. Alternatively you can just reuse the cleaning product bottles you already have and reduce your plastic waste even more! This means you should never have to throw away a plastic cleaning product bottle ever again. Check them out here: https://www.splosh.com/
8. Sign up to the Milkman
Years ago, collecting the milk from the front step was a staple part of the morning routine. Nowadays, milk is something you pick up on the way home in a plastic bottle and if you are a family of 4, this might last a couple of days if you’re lucky. It may surprise you that there are still milkmen making deliveries of glass bottled milk every morning. Glass is 100% recyclable and the bottles used by milkmen are re-used on average 12 times before being recycled. 4% of the UK still gets their milk delivered and now most milk delivery companies offer other produce such as fruit and veg, juice, bread, eggs and other household essentials as well. Find out your local milkman here: http://www.findmeamilkman.net/
9. Chewing Gum
The UK is the second largest consumer of chewing gum in the world. Gum is made from a synthetic material and could take hundreds of years to decompose depending on the environment it is left in. Chewing gum can be very harmful to animals and costs the government millions a year to clean off pavements and street furniture as only 20% of all used gum ends up in a bin. Try buying natural gum like Chewsy which is biodegradable and made from 100% natural ingredients.
10. Tell Everyone
Get Talking. Discussing the changes you have made with friends and family will plant the seed for them to start reducing their plastic waste too! Giving feedback to your favorite stores on their packaging may also make a difference, particularly if they are serious about their customers.
This is not an comprehensive list and there are many other ways you can reduce your environmental impact, but making just one change will make a difference and it is amazing how quickly you start feeling guilty for not doing more.