July is all about going plastic-free. It’s a month dedicated to making smart, sustainable changes to reduce plastic waste and help ease the burden it puts on our planet. Sadly, this issue isn’t new and plastic production continues to remain high.
In 2019, 368 million tonnes of plastic was manufactured. Of this, it is estimated that 50% are single-use plastics. Approximately 10 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into our oceans every year, that’s equal to 55,555 blue whales in ocean plastic waste, alone. The rest of the disposed-of products end up in landfills, as litter on our beaches and other beauty spots or, if we’re lucky, it is recycled, though not every item can be.
The question is, what can we do to reduce plastic use and lessen the impact it has? Continue reading to discover seven simple changes to consider in order to reduce plastic waste.
Use Your Own Bags
One of the biggest contributors to ocean plastic pollution is the humble plastic bag. Around one trillion plastic bags are used every year. Once they are in the sea, turtles, birds and other animals confuse them for jellyfish and consume them, causing serious harm. A simple way to reduce this is to take your own bags with you when you shop.
Bags made of canvas, or other materials, will not only help you to reduce your plastic waste, but they are also less likely to break, resulting in a stress-free shopping experience! Reusable bags also tend to be large so you’ll be able to use less of them, making them easier to carry.
Replace Plastic Straws
We have seen huge leaps forward when it comes to the use of plastic straws in the UK. Many large organisations, such as McDonald’s and Costa, have removed plastic straws from their stores (though the cups themselves still present a problem), many other businesses continue to use plastic straws due to cost implications. If you are asked if you’d like a straw, be sure to ask if they are plastic and, if they are, politely decline.
Another alternative is to use a reusable straw. These plastic-free straws can be made from metal, bamboo or even pasta (yes, you read that right!). In fact, pasta straws from Stroodles are a great alternative to plastic straws for home use when entertaining.
Bring Your Own Travel Mug
As mentioned above, while many large hospitality establishments have worked hard to reduce the use of plastic straws, their takeaway containers still present a plastic problem. Takeaway cups are made from paper but are lined with plastic to improve their resistance to liquid. This lining makes it incredibly difficult to recycle disposable cups, with only 1 in 400 actually being recycled. On top of this, there are also the lids and stirrers, which are often made of plastic.
Using your own travel mug is a simple way to avoid these. By bringing your own insulated thermos to your coffee shop, you’ll no longer require the use of disposable cups. What’s more, many places offer discounts if you use a reusable cup for your morning coffee. So you’ll be doing your bit for the planet and your wallet!
If you’re interested in a travel mug, then take a look at SoleCup. Their travel mugs are made of tempered glass and come with a very useful silicone band. Perfect for a coffee on the go!
Bottle Your Own Water
One of the easiest things we can do to reduce our plastic use is to stop buying bottles of water. In the UK alone, 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought every year, resulting in a huge amount of plastic waste.
The easiest way to remove this waste is to use your own reusable bottle. Reusable bottles come in different shapes, sizes and designs, and are the perfect way to stay hydrated on any adventure. What’s more, many are insulated which means your favourite drinks will remain cooler for much longer. You certainly can’t get that with a standard plastic bottle!
One Green Bottle is one of our favourite brands here at GoEthical. Not only are their sustainable insulated water bottles fantastic, but they are also designed to stand the test of time. To date, One Green Bottle has saved billions of single-use plastic water bottles from entering our oceans or landfill through their sales. Plus, they are even committed to removing 25 plastic bottles from ocean-bound rubbish for every single bottle sold!
Use Plastic Free Cosmetics
Not all plastic comes in the form of a container, some plastic pollutants are much smaller. Microplastics are used in cosmetics to help give them a better look and feel. For example, silicones are used to allow makeup products to glide more easily, They can also be used as a thickening agent to bulk up the products and get them to flow as desired. Exfoliants use microplastics to achieve the desired effect on the skin.
When buying makeup, be sure to look at the list of ingredients. Try to avoid any that include polymer, nylon-6 or polyethylene. You can read here for a more conclusive list of what to look out for.
As well as microplastics, many cosmetics containers and applicators are also made of plastic.As an alternative, you could consider making your own skincare products, using natural ingredients such as an oatmeal-almond face scrub. You could also purchase eco-friendly beauty products, like those made by Love The Planet, which specialises in environmentally-friendly plastic-free makeup, and All Earth Mineral Cosmetics, which specialises in vegan, cruelty-free, plant-based and zero waste makeup products.
Ditch The Disposable Razors
In the UK, around 5.45 million people use disposable razors. This is an incredible amount of wastage considering disposable razors are a mix of plastic, metal and rubber that can’t be recycled.
Instead, why not purchase a razor you can use again and again by simply replacing the blade (which are recyclable). Not only will this help the environment, but often these razors provide a more superior shave than your standard disposable razor. If this sounds like a switch you want to make, take a look at Shoreline. They offer an excellent collection of eco-friendly, high-quality razors and shaving kits.
Use Food Storage Alternatives
We’ve all been there. We get into the kitchen, cook up a storm and create a delicious meal… but what happens with the leftovers? For many, this is where plastic tupperware or cling film will come in handy. It is similar to a story when we are considering our lunches and decide to carry our sandwiches in sealable plastic bags, making for additional waste.
Instead of using plastics, consider investing in glass tupperware, which can be recycled should they break. You could also consider bee’s wax wraps for your sandwiches, which can be washed and reused and once they are at the end of their lifecycle can be composted.
To sum up our simple tips to reduce plastic use are:
- Use your own bags
- Replace plastic straws
- Bring your own travel mug
- Bottle your own water
- Use plastic free cosmetics
- Ditch the disposable razors
- Use food storage alternatives
By just implementing one or more of these, you’ll be making a huge difference. Oh, there is one more thing you can do.
Download The GoEthical App For Plastic-Free Collections
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