For years, the topic of plastic pollution has been prominent throughout social media and the news. The government announced that they aim to eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging and modify single use packaging to reusable packaging models. By 2025 they aim to have all plastic packaging modified so that it is easily reused, recycled or composted. This will eliminate the plastic entering landfill and subsequently ending up within the oceans. Until this is in effect, we have been thinking about what little changes we can all make to reduce the amount of plastic we use day to day, below are our top tips on how we can do this!
Carry a reusable bag
Since the introduction of the five pence charge on single use plastic bags in 2015, many people take a reusable bag wherever they go but there are still too many people who are happy to go without. The UK is still reporting sales of plastic bags to be well over one billion, which could be rapidly decreased if every person chose a better alternative. There are many types of reusable bags, it could be a ‘bag for life’ from your local supermarket or a piece of cotton merchandise from your favourite tv show or band. A wide rage of reusable bags are now created from recycled bottles or upcycled from old clothing, upcycling your own bag is an amazing idea as it will be something that you don’t use anymore and not only are you saving the piece of clothing entering landfill it also stops the use of the single use plastic bags.
Have a reusable bottle
Each year billions of single use bottles enter landfill. A reusable bottle is a simple fix to this, not only can a bottle be personalised, it can also increase how much water you drink within a day. As the bottle can be carried with you throughout the day it reminds people to drink more and today a lot of brands print bottles with an hourly timer down the front which can help you monitor your hydration throughout the day. On average a person should drink 3-4 bottles of water per day this would accumulate to almost 1500 single use plastic bottles being thrown away per person, per year! With 1 or 2 reusable bottles this could be reduced drastically throughout the year and the bottle should last many years so not only would you be helping the environment, you would save a huge amount of money!
Use a paper/metal straw
Although using no straw would be ideal, people use straws for different reasons each day. Plastic straws are used for efficiency and ease but when they are thrown into rubbish they end up in landfill and can take 200 years to decompose. If everyone carried a metal straw or swapped out their plastic straws for a biodegradable paper straw this would eradicate the use of plastic straws. Compared to the 200 years a plastic straw takes to biodegrade, a paper straw can biodegrade with in as little as 2-6 weeks. Various fast-food chains have made the change to paper straws and even though they aren’t as durable and long lasting as plastic straws and there were many complaints about the change, they are helping to better the environment. A metal straw isn’t single use and with a slim lined design it can be carried in most bags. Some straw companies now create a collapsible straw which can be carried pretty much anywhere, this means that the use of a plastic straw is no longer needed!
Use an alternative to wipes
Each year the UK uses approximately 11 billion wipes. These wipes are clogging up sewage systems, washing up on beaches and piling up in landfill. Whilst wipes take up to 100 years to biodegrade, a small switch to a biodegradable wipe means that these can decompose within 42 days and they can be added to your compost heap at home, so they don’t even have to enter landfill. If you wanted to eradicate the use of wipes completely there are now many alternatives such as reusable bamboo cotton pads which are just as effective at removing make up and cleansing the skin. Reusable paper towels are also an amazing alternative, these can be used and washed to be reused up to 85 times, meaning that your use of wipes would be very minimal to completely cancelling out the use of standard wipes. Another way to replace wipes is to purchase a bamboo or cotton face cloth, not only do these exfoliate the skin to leave a fresh, glowing base they can also be washed and reused daily, which in the long run, again would also save you a lot of money.
Take a reusable coffee cup with you
In 2016 Costa was the first brand to announce that they realised single use coffee cups were an issue and had an impact on the environment. They were aware that the plastic lining within the cups meant that although the cup was paper it was no longer recyclable, so they added a special recycling bin to over 2000 stores for people to dispose of not only their own coffee cups but also other brands too. In 2018 they realised that not enough people were recycling their cups, so they added a discount for anyone who brought in a reusable cup. Today using a reusable coffee cup is seen as a stylish accessory and is a great present to someone. With brands using the incentive of a small discount is it an amazing reminder to take your coffee cup with you!
There are many other small changes we can make day to day to reduce our use of plastic, but we are aware that sometimes using products that include plastic wrap or packaging can be inevitable. The small change you can make here is to make sure that everything that is used is recycled where possible. What small changes are you making to help better the environment?