10 Easy Tips To Reduce Plastic Use In 2019
It’s no secret that plastic use is a huge problem. Every year more than 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans. That’s almost one and a half times the weight of every person in the UK combined. A truly staggering amount. In 2018 the world began to wake up to this reality and realised we need to reduce plastic use. This was thanks to growing media coverage and the release of eye-opening documentaries such as BBC’s Blue Planet II. The Collins’ Dictionary word of the year was even single-use, having seen a fourfold increase in usage from 5 years prior.
Whilst much of the responsibility should lie with policymakers and manufacturers to resolve this crisis, there is much we as consumers can do too. The idea that an individual cannot make a difference is simply not true. Granted, we are not the ones producing the plastic, but we as a collective have the power to make a change. We can make small changes, vote with our wallets and show producers we will not accept strategies that have a total disregard for the environment.
Here are our ten top tips for how you can reduce plastic use in 2019:
1. Avoid single-use plastic bottles and carry a refillable bottle instead
Around 13 billion plastic bottles are used in the UK each year and a huge amount of these find their way to landfill. If everyone were to carry a refillable water bottle instead, then the average household could save as many as 480 plastic bottles per year! This simple and easy change can go a huge way to reduce plastic use.
You can find a great selection for all budgets here.
2. Bring your own coffee cup or sit-in
A staggering 7 million single-use coffee cups are thrown away in the UK every day. A mere 0.25% of these will be recycled.
If you’re not in a rush then sit in for a few minutes and enjoy your coffee there. If you can't stay to drink your coffee, then most coffee shops will now allow you to bring your own cup to be filled. Some will even give you a discount because of it!
Take a look at this rundown of the best out there here.
3. Say no to plastic bags!
Thankfully the days of being offered a carrier bag for even the smallest of food items are largely behind us. The 5p plastic bag charge has helped to reduce consumption, and there is a strong chance the charge may even rise to 10p per bag in an effort to further discourage single-use plastics.
A significantly better option than paying for plastic is to carry your own cloth bag instead. An organic cotton shopping bag is a perfect shopping companion that you can use over and over again. You can find several great examples of these here.
If you are someone who prefers a backpack, we also have plenty of options to choose from here.
4. Avoid packaging like the plague
When it comes to supermarkets, you’ll often find two options on the shelf. One wrapped in plastic and the other loose. Where possible always choose the non-wrapped option and you’ll be doing wonders for reducing plastic use.
5. Shop zero waste
There are now hundreds of shops around the country that are zero waste and avoid plastic packaging altogether. Our friends over at Pebble Magazine have compiled this list of the best in the UK here.
If one of these stores is nowhere nearby, try shopping at your local butcher, greengrocer or farmers market. Not only will you help to reduce plastic use, but the produce will most likely be fresher and you’ll also be supporting local businesses.
6. No more plastic straws (or funny cocktail decorations)
When buying soft drinks or drinks at the bar opt to not have a straw, and ask your cocktail server to avoid adding one of those odd plastic palm tree stirrers to it. No matter what they say it will not improve the flavour.
If you really must have a straw, or you genuinely need one for medical reasons there are now plenty of paper and metal alternatives out there
Find a rundown of the best here
7. Foil > Film
When wrapping food for storage use tin foil instead of cling film. Most foil can be recycled or reused easily.
Just please don’t forget to take it off before putting anything in the microwave, setting fire to your kitchen isn’t very eco-friendly either.
If you are really keen to cut down on your waste, invest in some organic cotton beeswax clothes such as these gorgeous, and long-lasting ones from BeeBee Wraps! They can be used just like cling film and are perfect for keeping food fresh!
8. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one
The average person gets through around 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime, many of which will most likely end up in a landfill or floating in the ocean. As plastic takes so long to decompose, sadly plastic toothbrushes are likely to exist beyond the birth of even your great, great, great grandchildren.
There are now a number of sustainable alternatives such as bamboo toothbrushes. You can find bamboo alternatives in most high street health shops nowadays, or check them out here.
9. Use bar soap and shampoo instead of liquid soap in plastic bottles
In days gone by a humble bar of soap was more than enough to keep the average person clean. It has all the necessary cleaning properties and is often better for maintaining the right PH balance of your skin as well as not drying it out.
Most high street health shops now stock bar alternatives of all the essential toiletries offering another very simple way to reduce plastic use.
10. Choose Natural Materials Over Polyester
It might be surprising to learn that a significant proportion of our clothing is actually made from plastic! Clothing that contains plastic-based materials such as polyester take significantly longer than natural, organic materials to decompose, and can release microplastics when washed. To reduce plastic pollution from your wardrobe, you can opt for natural materials such as organic cotton, linens and wool.
If you don't want to give up some of the sweat-wicking properties of plastic-based nylon or spandex, we recommend buying Recycled-PET fabrics. These are usually made from post-consumer waste like plastic bottles and fishing nets, and can actually help tackle plastic pollution!
Shop the sustainable styles you've been looking for at the links below: