Single-use plastic is more topical than ever, particularly since the harmful effects its use is having on the environment and oceans was brought to our attention in the most recent series of Blue Planet.
The government’s efforts have certainly been improving to tackle the single-use plastic problem but there are a number of simple changes we can make in our daily lives in order to cut down our personal plastic use.
Here’s our 7 top ways to reduce your single-use plastic waste:
- Carry a reusable bottle
- Buy a reusable coffee cup
- Avoid excessive food packaging
- Carry a canvas bag for shopping
- Avoid products with microbeads
- Say no to plastic cutlery & straws
- Use refill stations
Carry a reusable bottle
Plastic bottles are the biggest cause of the amount of single-use plastic being dumped in our seas each year with 35 million of them being consumed daily in the UK alone.
Carrying a reusable bottle is an easy way to cut down your daily plastic use and will ultimately save you money in the long run.
Here are a few of our favourites:
Chilly’s Bottles £20 – https://www.chillysbottles.com/product/bottle/500ml/29529505811/
Camelbak £18.99 – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Camelbak-Eddy-Drinking-Bottle/dp/B01EN77RYM?th=1&psc=1
Bobble £8.00 – https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/bobble-blue-550ml-131867173-p
There are a growing number of shops, cafés, restaurants and water fountains where you can fill up your bottle as well as a handy app which tells you where these locations are.
Buy a reusable coffee cup
The same goes for your daily coffee. In the UK alone we get through 2.5 billion coffee cups a year with only a small percentage of these actually being recycled.
Many coffee shops will now give you a discount on your coffee of choice if you bring your own cup:
Pret A Manger – 50p discount
Pure – 50p discount
Costa, Starbucks and Paul – 25p discount
Greggs – 20p discount
Avoid excess food packaging
Why do the likes of bananas, cucumbers and avocados need unnecessary plastic packaging?! Opt for loose fruit and veg where possible. It’s often cheaper than the packaged versions, too.
There’s still a long way to go until pointless plastic disappears from our supermarkets. Throw your support behind Greenpeace’s campaign to ‘ditch throwaway plastic packaging’ and sign their petition here.
Carry a canvas bag for shopping
The government’s single-use plastic carrier bag charge in England has seen a massive 80% drop in their use. Similar to the situation in Scotland and Wales, all retailers, including small enterprises in England could soon be forced to charge 5p as part of the government’s plans for the environment.
So, although it’s difficult to remember, carrying an extra bag with you will save you money and decrease single-use plastic waste.
Avoid products with microbeads
Microbeads, commonly found in face scrubs and toothpastes are not biodegradable and end up in the ocean. They contaminate the water and are ingested by marine life.
In January of this year, the government introduced a ban on the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products. So, although we won’t be seeing them on the shelves anymore, ensure the products you may still have at home don’t contain microbeads.
Say no to plastic cutlery & straws
If you’re eating on the go it’s more than likely that you’re going to need some cutlery but the only offering tends to be plastic. So, it’s worth investing in some to keep in your bag or at work.
The same goes for plastic straws, more than 8.5 billion are being thrown away in the UK each year which is disastrous for our oceans . The good news is, many bars and restaurants have begun using card or paper straws in their place and the government is looking to ban them in England in the near future.
Use refill stations
So many of the items we use on a day to day basis in our homes come in a plastic container. Making a conscious decision to choose reusable items is great but some products such as detergents and loose food goods are hard to avoid.
However, refill stations have been popping up in an increasing number of locations where you can refill your bottles and jars.