Not so fantastic plastic
There’s absolutely no getting away from the fact that we should all be minimizing our plastic use, but it can be difficult to know where to start.
Here are ten simple changes you can make to reduce plastic wastage and help make a difference...
1. INVEST IN A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Probably the most obvious one, but given that we go through almost 36 million plastic bottles every day in the UK alone it’s time to make a change.
Single-use plastic is what we should be looking at reducing most, so get yourself a Bobble water bottle (they feature a small filter to remove chlorine and other water contaminants), and turn on the tap. Available at all good retailers.
2. DITTO COFFEE CUPS
We throw away 2.5 billion cups every year in the UK in the UK (that’s 7 million coffee cups a day).
Whilst many claim to be recyclable, the problem is that they’re lined with polyethylene, a type of plastic, which means they can only be recycled in very specialised plants – of which there are only three in the UK.
If you really must use a disposable cup, make sure it carries the Vegware symbol which means it doesn’t contain plastic and is fully compostable. And if your local coffee shop doesn’t use Vegware cups, ask them why.
We love the Keep Cup series, available to buy from good coffee shops and online.
3. USE SOAP BARS
Instead of buying plastic bottles of shower gel, go back to basics with a trusty bar of soap. It lasts much longer too, so your money goes further.
4. DECANT YOUR SHAMPOO
Same goes for shampoo and conditioner – look for bars (Beauty And The Bees do a brilliant range, available on Amazon), or if you really want to use liquid consider buying in 5 litre containers (easy to find online) and decant into a pump dispenser (you can do the same with cleaning products).
5. SAY NO TO STRAWS
The Scottish Government have set out a plan to ban plastic drinking straws by 2019, but we can get a jump on that by stopping using them now.
A polite ‘no thanks’ is all it takes to refuse a plastic straw, and if you really want to suck your drink get yourself a reusable metal straw and whip that out instead.
Plus, the puckering action of drinking through a straw can create lines and wrinkles around your mouth. Just saying.
6. CARRY A SPORK
If you’ve seen images of the wasted plastic and single-use cutlery flooding what should be clear blue water in the Caribbean, you won’t ever use another plastic fork.
Grab one from your cutlery drawer and carry it with you in your handbag, or get yourself a Spork and never have to eat your packed lunch yoghurt with a fork again.
7. BE SELECTIVE ABOUT COTTON BUDS
Happily, we’re also looking at a potential ban on plastic stemmed cotton buds. More and more retailers are now offering cotton buds with paper stems, so opt for those.
You should still dispose of them in the bin though – not down the toilet.
8. BOYCOTT PLASTIC-WRAPPED FRUIT AND VEG
Wrapping a cucumber in plastic might well extend its shelf-life, but we’d rather extend our earth-life.
Remember when we used to have to select our own apples and put them in paper bags? And we’d love someone to explain why some retailers feel the need to lie avocados in special little trays and bag them in cellophane.
If your local supermarket insists on over packaging their fruit and veg, you could take a leaf out of one the guerilla members of the i-on team and take them all out of their packaging at the till, before bagging them up (in reusable totes, natch) to take home.
9. GET LOOSE WITH LEAVES
Making headlines recently is the fact that even teabags contain plastic. Yep, it’s polypropylene again, and it’s in there to heat seal the bags.
There are one or two brands who say their bags don’t contain plastic, but the teabag packaging does.
So what’s the solution?
Let’s hope that tea companies are taking notice and looking into alternatives. And in the meantime, dig out your teapot and strainer, and start buying loose tea leaves. Start getting experimental and making your own blends.
10. DO WE STILL NEED TO TALK ABOUT PLASTIC BAGS?
5p might seem like a small price to pay to carry your shopping home, but it’s not worth the cost to the environment.
Get yourself a reusable tote, roll it up, stick it in your handbag, and you’ll never be caught short.