How to use less plastic
Plastic in the environment poses such a huge threat to wildlife because it doesn’t just disappear; it simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Aside from the dangers of becoming trapped or injured, animals often ingest plastic fragments, with the potential to build up in the bodies of animals right up the food chain - from microscopic animals right up to large predators, including us!
You may already bring your own shopping bags and coffee cups, but there are plenty more small changes you can make to reduce your plastic footprint
While recycling plastic is often hailed as a solution, it is estimated that only 9% of plastics ever manufactured have actually been recycled! Not everything you put in your recycling bin will get recycled either. The limited demand for products made from recycled plastic means that a large proportion of plastic sent to be recycled actually winds up getting burned or sent to landfill.
The good news is we can all do our bit to cut down on unnecessary plastic! Once you start looking, you might be surprised at just how much plastic is woven into our daily and weekly routines. You may already bring your own shopping bags, coffee cups and reusable bottles, but there are plenty more small changes you can make to shrink your plastic footprint!
Top tips to reduce your plastic use:
In the bathroom
In the shower
Exfoliating shower puffs might be a popular scrubbing tool, but they’re made of plastic. Specialist advice is to not use them at all, but if you must, to replace them every 3-4 weeks because of the nasty bacteria that can build up on the netting - that adds up to a lot of plastic waste! There are alternatives made from natural materials, but maybe it’s best to ditch them altogether.
Keep an eye out for unpackaged bar soap and ditch the shower gel. Kept out of any water stream, they last a really long time! You can also get shampoo and conditioner in this form.
Disposable razors amount to a huge amount of plastic waste, and aren’t easily recyclable. You could decide to let your hair grow wild, or if you prefer that clean shaven feel, traditional safety razors are a much longer lasting, sustainable option.
In the kitchen
Cling film may be a food storage staple in your house, but it doesn’t need to be! Pop it in a reusable Tupperware box. Otherwise, beeswax (or soy wax) wraps do a great job of covering pots and bowls where a plate won’t do, and are also useful for wrapping foods like sandwiches and cut veg.
Some brands of washing up liquid allow you to refill your bottles once you run out, so it’s worth investigating your options and seeing if this is available to you. Kitchen sponges and scourers are usually made of plastic too. There are biodegradable options available made from natural materials, but, simply investing in a brush can make your sponges last far, far longer.
Bread, biscuits, cakes, and snacks usually come in throwaway plastic packaging, much of which can't be recycled. While it is possible to source these items without packaging in some supermarkets or bakeries, making your own is often cheaper, and more satisfying! There are plenty of recipes and tips available online to help you get started.
Alternatively, switching out that afternoon chocolate bar for a package-free apple or banana might just make you healthier too!
Out and about
Do a little preparation
Doing a little forward planning if you know you’ll be out for the day can make a big difference. By now we’ve all heard of the benefits of bringing our own coffee cups, shopping bags, and refillable water bottles. If you already do these things, then keep up the good work! Maybe it’s time to go one further and carry your own cutlery, or maybe a straw if you’d rather not skip it next time you’re out? Taking your own picnic can also help you avoid the pesky plastic of the meal deal.