Two months ago I wrote all about The Plastic Problem highlighting the horrific amount we are consuming and the detrimental effects this is having on the world and it’s inhabitants. We all need to do more as individuals and as a planet which is why I’ve compiled this list as a step towards the plastic solution. Incorporate these tips and choices into your everyday life to reduce your plastic consumption. This list is quite comprehensive so we’re not expecting you to do all of them straight away (or you can go full on eco-warrior!). It’s about us all taking steps towards the plastic solution, so start by incorporating the most manageable into your life. Once these are achieved you can do more and more and MORE! Before you know it you’ll wander why you ever used so much plastic in the first place.
If you want to find out more about The Big Plastic Problem then click here.
Food and Drink On the Go
Always carry a reusable bottle – Carrying a bottle that can be reused and refilled will significantly reduce the amount of single use plastic bottles consumed that just end up in the oceans.
Say no to plastic straws – What might seem like a harmless accessory to your drink is quite the opposite for marine life. 1,000’s of animals die every year from accidentally swallowing plastic straws. Say no to single use plastic straws, and look for biodegradable straws. Better yet, buy a reusable straw and keep it with you for your beverage needs.
Carry a reusable coffee cup.
Say no to disposable cutlery – We’ve all been there when we’re out and about and need a fork for our lunch. Instead of picking up a plastic one carry you own fork or spoon (spork?). Never will you be caught short again having to eat you soup with your hands.
Avoid packaged fruits and veggies, opt for loose ones instead to cut out the unnecessary packaging. Be mindful when picking up loose items too and consider whether you really need to put those carrots in a plastic bag? Worried about them getting dirty in your trolley? They grew in the dirt! You can put them straight in my trolley then in to a reusable shopping bag when you’ve paid.
Carry a reusable shopping bag – Many places in the UK are now charging for plastic bags, making people more mindful of how many they use and whether they even need one at all. Be sure you always carry one with you and you won’t have to purchase a single use plastic one. Other countries around the globe are using the same method and all report that less plastic bags are being used, so no matter where you are in the world carry your reusable with you.
Avoid microbeads – These tiny bits of quite frankly pointless plastic can be found in face and body washes, they ultimately end up in our oceans and in marine life! The good news is that the UK government have announced a ban on microbeads. However the ban hasn’t yet been enforced so there will still be products on the shelves. Keep checking those labels before you buy and avoid products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.
If you (must) drink milk then get it delivered – By getting milk delivered the glass bottles are reused and you don’t need to buy milk in plastic containers from the supermarket.
Carry your own container for take away food.
When ordering a pizza say no to the little plastic table in the middle – It’s a single use plastic device for a single use cardboard box. Of course we all love pizza so when ordering just say no to the little plastic thing in the middle and feel less guilty when you’re tucking in to that pizza goodness.
Buy fresh bread that can be put in paper bags and avoid plastic wrapped loaves.
Choose wine bottled with natural corks – At Corkwatch you can see what kind of stopper different brands use to help you with this one, because quite frankly who knows if a wine has a natural stopper or not?
Shop local – There are so many benefits to shopping local, buying local seasonal foods means you avoid overseas shipping and all the plastic that goes into production and transportation process. Plus you can bring you own containers & bags to carry your groceries.
Choose plastic free chewing gum – I mean I didn’t even know chewing gum had plastic in it and now I do I’m a bit grossed out. When buying gum make sure it doesn’t contain any plastic because really who wants to chew plastic anyway?!
Buy in bulk from bulk bins – Bring your own container and fill your boots to avoid the single use plastic wrapping.
Buy cardboard packaged detergent instead of plastic.
Give up shampoo in plastic bottles – There are several plastic-free options that you can use instead;
- The No-Poo method uses baking soda and water plus an apple cider vinegar rinse.
If No-Poo seems too hardcore, there are solid shampoo bars you can use. Brands include:
- Aquarian Bath shampoo bars
- J.R. Liggett’s Old Fashioned shampoo bar
- Or try a searching for shampoo + bar on Etsy.com and request that the seller send your shampoo bar without any plastic packaging.
Avoid buying ready-made products and make your own – Use a mixture of water, vinegar and baking soda when washing up and cleaning surfaces and you cut out the plastic containers.
Choose lotions and lip balms in plastic free containers – Organic Essence packages its body lotions in compostable cardboard jars and their lip balms in ingenious cardboard tubes that squeeze from the end. There are also lotion bars, lip balms and glosses that come in glass or metal containers.
Instead of buying lube from a shop in a plastic tube use coconut oil instead – be warned though it’s not great with latex.
Food Storage and Production
Store food avoiding plastic containers – Click here to read about to dry summer foods to keep them through winter plastic-free!
Make you own plant milk – There are so many plant milks you can make at home and here are just a few recipes.
Make you own condiments – It’s healthier and often tastier to make your own condiments at home and you avoid the single use plastic containers.
Make you own snacks – Again it’s healthier and tastier plus if you make things in bulk it’s often cheaper. I like to make a big batch of flapjacks or energy balls to snack on throughout the coming days and carry around with me for on-the-go munching.
Only buy necessary plastic cooking equipment – If you do have to buy plastic cooking equipment consider if it’s really necessary and are there other alternatives. If you must buy it make sure that it’s built to last, it’s buying these products then throwing them away that is the massive problem.
Use a bar of soap instead of liquid soap.
Find natural DIY remedies for illnesses to avoid plastic wrapped tablets and medicines.
Use a handkerchief instead of paper tissues – This one is a double whammy, not only are you avoiding the plastic wrapping around the tissues, you are also saving trees by saving paper. You go you eco-warrior!
Choose clothes made of natural fibres rather than those made with plastics.
Shop second hand – There are many ways this saves plastic consumption as it avoids the plastic tag hanger plus the clothes hanger produced for the product. It also saves on any plastic used in the production and transportation process.
Give and receive plastic free gifts – Ask your friends and family to choose plastic free options when shopping for you and it will in turn make them more mindful about their buying habits.
Use string when wrapping presents instead of plastic tape.
Unsubscribe from mailing list – Let’s be honest do you really read half of the bumft that comes through your letter box? Instead opt to receive info online and cut out all the plastic.
Ask for you bank statements online – Cutting out the envelope means cutting out that little plastic window that comes with it.
Manufacturing and Mass Recycling
One solution is to treat plastic as a reusable material rather than as a disposable commodity that’s can be quickly discarded. That means making plastic more easily recyclable from the get-go by using fewer materials in the manufacturing process and increasing recycling facilities availability.
Increasing the availability of biodegradable plastic, made from renewable materials like corn or soy is another option. However, currently production capacity for biodegradable plastics worldwide is around only 350,000 tons, representing less than 0.2% of petrochemical-based plastics. In addition some scientists think, most of these materials are unlikely to degrade quickly in natural habitats, and there is concern that degradable, oil-based polymers could merely disintegrate into small pieces that are not in themselves any more degradable than conventional plastic.
Recycled plastic can be used to make things such as park benches, rubbish bins, music decks, playground equipment and kayaks, the list goes on.
If you do nothing else, try to steer clear of Polyvinyl Chloride (#3 PVC), Polystyrene (#6 PS), & Polycarbonate (#7 Other). PVC is found in many, many products and causes a whole host of environmental problems. If you must use plastic, make sure it’s not #3, #6, or #7 polycarbonate. (Note: #7 is a catch-all for many types of plastic that doesn’t fit into the first six categories. Biodegradable plastic is also labeled #7. So when in doubt, ask.)
If you can even just incorporate one of these small changes in to your lifestyle it will have a positive effect on the environment and reduce your plastic consumption.
It is so important that we all do more to protect our mamma earth because if we continue what we’re doing and don’t make drastic changes then we’re going to see this beautiful planet destroyed in front of our eyes. It’s already so visible around the globe, causing destruction to so many wondrous sights that need to be protected. As a species we need to stop thinking it’s someone else problem to tackle, or that another generation will solve all these issues. Wake up world, this is happening now and we are the ones who have the knowledge and means to have a positive impact right now. Don’t be part of the collective that thinks turning a blind eye will make it all go away, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.
Let us know what you think of the list in the comments below and tell us of any more handy tips to reduce plastic consumption.