9 Ways to cut down on your plastic use

Jessica Lone Summers

Single-use plastic is undeniably a terrible source of waste all over the world, we look at some of the ways you can cut down and clear your conscience 

It goes without saying that plastic is killing our marine life and harming out planet, which in many ways is irrevocable. With measures such as the 5p plastic bag charge it's true that we've collectively started to take notice but so much more needs to be done. Here are nine easy ways you can do your part for the earth:

 

1. Go cupless

Plenty of Restaurants and cafés are now rewarding their customers with discounted drinks when they bring in their own reusable cups. Many cups for hot drinks are advertised as recyclable, however the plastic lining that contains the liquid prevents the outside cardboard from being recycled. Skip out the fuss and simply bring your own for a guilt free and cheaper coffee. 

 

2. Buy local

A brilliant way to avoid buying needless plastic is to buy fresh produce from local shops. Supermarkets contribute more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year and most products they sell include avoidable single-use plastic. By buying locally you cut out the waste, not to mention that supporting local companies is inevitably great on its own!

 

3. Say no to plastic straws

There’s been a huge start with beverage companies phasing out plastic straws but there’s still a way to go. Plastic straws can’t be recycled in most places and take up to 200 years to decompose. Considering it's estimated that the UK goes through 8.5 billion plastic straws per year we’re in dire need for change.

Fortunately, there are a few options available to avoid the pesky plastic tubes. Take paper straws for example, which are eco-friendly and very aesthetically pleasing. If the longevity of your straws is a concern (paper straws are known for getting soggy and something sturdier is often need for those less able-bodied) use either recyclable bamboo straws, washable metal or glass straws, or—ingeniously—pasta straws.

 

4. Cut down on packaging

 

Companies such as Lush are passionate about bringing beautiful eco-friendly products to their customers and have very little packaging. The plastic containers they do use are made from sturdy recycled polypropylene plastic and are re-purposed when brought back to the stores. Get to know the companies you buy from, you may be surprised at the recycling options available and many are aiming to eliminate waste altogether. For example, you can bring your packaging back to M.A.C to be recycled and receive a free lipstick in return.

 

5. Become eco-sanitary

Sanitary goods such as menstruation products and nappies are a huge source of general and plastic waste, especially when disposed of incorrectly and flushed down the loo which unfortunately is commonplace. Seriously, don’t do that, it harms our oceans.

Instead, consider using  natural alternatives such a cloth nappy, a Divacup, biodegradable tampons and recycled toilet roll. It’s possible to care about hygiene and the environment, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, and considering sanitary waste is such a large problem it’s definitely a route worth thinking about—not to mention the chemicals used that are harmful to the environment can also be extremely harmful to your body. 
 

6. Do a little DIY

It has become the norm on a shopping trip to buy a multitude of commercial cleaning products—that contain toxic chemicals—to cleans our homes with. But, there’s a safer and more eco-friendly way to go about it. Cut out the packaging and harmful ingredients by creating natural products of your own. Click here to discover how to purpose homemade substitutions you already have, plus some recipes for making your own. 

 

7. Stop chewing

No, we’re not telling you to give up food but to instead consider tossing away the sticky substance you frequently masticate, gum. It adds to the 30 million tonnes of litter dropped every year and is the second most common form of dropped rubbish, after cigarette butts. If you insist on having the gooey plastic as a refresher then make sure you dispose of it properly i.e. not on the floor, or look out for a gum recycling bin. If you’re interested in keeping your breath fresh while considering the environment you’re not at a loss! Drinking plenty of water, eating citrus fruits and chewing on a mint leaf are just some of the eco-friendly options available to you. 

 

8. Ban single-use plastic from your home

Plastic may seem like it’s everywhere and unavoidable but in fact it can be much easier and cheaper to ban it from your home than you might think. Take Clingfilm for example, a packaging we might use every day for our on-the-go food but there’s a brilliant alternative. Many companies are now offering reusable wraps for your food. They’re largely made from beeswax and are washable meaning you won’t have to keep running to the shops for more plastic and your food will stay fresh as a daisy. 

 

9. Work together!

There are countless other ways to reduce plastic waste from your life and it’s undeniable that we all need to concern ourselves further with how our behaviour affects our planet. The best way to implement change? Influence! Do your own research, carry out your own experiments, speak to your local council, or bar, or supermarket, look for volunteering opportunities and get people talking about how they can improve the way they conduct their affairs.

It may not seem as if you’re making a difference but the more people who speak up to the same establishment, the more they will take notice. And the more we do everyday to keep our planet clean, the fuller our lives will be. We’re all guilty of sharing an article on social media and leaving our “hard work” at that, but we must remember that while outreach is essential, we need to bring our scruples offline as well and employ them in the real world, where it matters—the earth will thank you for it.