Much of the time, when we talk about being ‘Plastic-free’, we are simply talking about reducing the amount of plastic – especially single-use plastic – in our day-to-day lives.
There has been so much press around single-use plastic recently; it has been difficult to ignore the situation we are now in. The reality is, planet Earth is not indestructible. We have been told that if we carry on as we have been regarding our methods of food production, our eating habits and our reliance on throw-away plastic, we will witness dangerous climate change within just 12 years.
I for one, can feel quite overwhelmed by the task ahead. I feel torn between whether what I’m doing on a personal level can even begin to help the situation? After all, I want to continue to enjoy our beautiful planet and ensure its sanctuary for generations to come. However, is what I’m doing enough, when I feel that those who can really make a difference: the producers, manufacturers and the governments, seem to be dragging their heels.
• Wipes: did you know, 90% of wet wipes contain plastic. PLASTIC!! And will take more than 100 years to biodegrade.
• 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK, but less than 1 in 400 are recycled.
• A plastic shopping bag takes up to 20 years to decompose.
• A plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose.
• Did you know, previous generations survived without single-use plastics!
The good news is, we can all do our bit to help reduce this. A lot of the time, our need for convenience and competitive pricing forces us into certain purchasing decisions. However, with a little bit of forward planning and conscious thought, there are some simple changes we can all make to help play our part.
Ten easy ways to reduce your plastic use
1. Always carry a reusable shopping bag with you so you don’t have to use a plastic bag at the shops. Food shopping, clothes shopping, gift shopping; a reusable bag does the same job as a plastic carrier and won’t add to landfill.
2. Opt for loose bananas instead of those in a plastic wrap. Same applies for all fruit and vegetables. If there’s an alternative, give it a whirl.
3. Packaging. We’ve recently added a visit to the local butcher into our week so that we don’t have to buy meat in plastic packaging from the supermarket shelves. Even better, our butcher offers a discount if we bring our own box to put the meat in! Tupperware at the ready!
4. Swap bottles of liquid soap for a traditional bar of soap instead.
5. Use an electric toothbrush, or swap to Bamboo toothbrushes to reduce the number of plastic toothbrushes going to landfill.
6. Take your own coffee cup to your local coffee shop. Most outlets will offer you a discount for doing so.
7. Don’t leave the house without your reusable water bottle in tow. The good news is, most places are really happy to refill your water bottle these days.
8. Do you have a ‘drawer of shame’ with Clingfilm and plastic freezer bags? Shamefully, we do, but we are trying to cut back. Tupperware is our saviour again!
9. Bring plastic reduction into your conscious thought. Don’t buy plastic throw-away cups for a party – opt for paper instead.
10. Don’t accept plastic cutlery, straws or stirrers from food outlets. In fact, plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds will be banned from the UK as of next year.
The bigger picture
If you’re taking steps to reduce your single-use plastic on a personal level, I applaud you. However, wouldn’t it be nice to see tangible, immediate action from those who can make the greatest impact?
• Producers and manufacturers taking more responsibility, both at the beginning of the process and at the end, i.e. recycling costs.
• Competitive pricing from supermarkets on loose vs. pre-packaged produce.
• Governments promising to do more, sooner.
What changes have you made to ease your impact on the environment? Please let us know – we are always looking for ways to reduce our use of plastic! Share your tips in the comments below, or on our social media channels.