In our current ecological state, single-use plastics are almost criminal. We desperately need to reduce the rate we storm through single-use plastic, but the trouble is, so many of our everyday items are smothered in it. Here’s some swaps you can make today to make a difference in your household.
Key principle: Be prepared.
Before we get started, we need to make this disclaimer. Preparedness is essential when taking better care of our consumption. Here’s why:
- We need to be prepared to substitute single-use plastics before heading out for the day. Modern consumerism offers too many opportunities to collect plastic without thinking. To avoid this, we should carry a reusable toolkit full of essentials, to consciously replace the plastic in our lives. This includes things like reusable shopping bags and coffee cups.
- As hard as it is to admit, we also need to be prepared to go without sometimes. We’ve embraced a culture where we can have whatever we want at the click of a button or the flash of a credit card. Where plastic can’t be replaced, we may need to make small sacrifices when it comes to the types of items we consume.
- The third part of this principle is that we need to be prepared to go out of our way. It’s all well and good using the plastic-free options when they’re as easy to obtain as the plastic options. But if reducing your plastic waste means taking more time to obtain your everyday items, are you prepared to change your habits for the good of the planet? Be prepared to make different choices, whilst suppliers catch up.
Ways to reduce your plastic waste today:
1. Carry a reusable coffee cup
This is a common recommendation, because disposable coffee cups are renownedly difficult to recycle. According to WWF, the UK throws away around 2.5 billion coffee cups every year. Honestly, we can’t even wrap our heads around this figure.
Due to this vast number and the different materials that compose a coffee cup, a mere 1% of them can be recycled. Most of them will spend up to 50 years in landfill, after being sipped at for just minutes.
2. Use reusable face masks
If you’ve paid attention to environmental headlines, you’ll have probably seen lots of images of wildlife wearing those single-use blue face masks that have become an emblem of current times.
Since wearing masks became compulsory, estimates show that the UK throws out 53 million face masks per day. Many of these masks make their way into wildlife hubs, including rivers, oceans and meadows.
In addition to harming wildlife, these single-use face masks are made using a variety of plastics, meaning they can take up to 450 years to break down.
3. Use local produce suppliers
Traditional food vendors such as butchers, grocers and bakers are much more likely to supply food in minimal packaging, often opting for paper over plastic. This is also a great way to treat yourself to quality fresh produce and help out your local businesses at the same time.
You may want to carry tupperware to these suppliers, to make it easier to transport items such as fish and meat home.
4. Be careful of weekend dining
Popular dining habits include cooking from scratch in the week, then dining on takeaways or ready meals on the weekend. Whilst many of us crave a break from cooking on the weekend, it’s likely we’ll turn to plastic-wrapped foods to do so.
If you’re getting a takeaway, find somewhere that supplies food in reusable containers, rather than single use polystyrene cartons. You could even ask if they’d be willing to supply your food in your own containers upon collection.
Instead of buying heavily-wrapped meals at the supermarket, opt for cooking your own alternatives. This way, you can use raw ingredients that can be added to other meals too, thus cutting down on food packaging.
5. Take advantage of zero-waste shops
We could definitely do with more zero-waste shops, but if you do have one near you, make the most of it. Zero-waste shops do an awesome job of offering everyday essentials in bulk, for you to collect in your own containers.
You can find your nearest stores by visiting https://www.thezerowastenetwork.com/
6. Use soap bars instead of liquid soap
Bathrooms are magnets for single-use plastic. Reduce the plastic waste collecting in your shower by switching to a bar soap instead of liquid.
Frankly, we find bar soaps a little more exciting, too, especially if you shop somewhere that specialises in different scents and skin-concerns. Lush is one of our favourite soap suppliers - hardly a niche brand, but we can deal with being mainstream. Our all-time favourite product is Honey I Washed The Kids. https://uk.lush.com/products/handmade-soap
7. Use your local milk supplier
If you’re still drinking cow’s milk (we know there’s still some folk out there who are), switch to using your local milk supplier, so that your milk arrives in reusable glass bottles, instead of a tonne of plastic.
When you’re finished with these bottles, simply clean them out, and leave them on your doorstep for your milk supplier to reuse.
8. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes
Captain obvious. We believe strongly that bamboo should be the default toothbrush material. It’s durable and it decomposes easily.
When we researched how often toothbrushes need to be replaced, we realised that Brushbox needed to be a plastic-free service. If you’re taking good care of your teeth, you should be changing your toothbrush every 2 months. That means that every year, you’ll get through 6 toothbrushes. When these are made of plastic, that’s 6 more items of plastic waste per person. Just think how many you’d get through in a lifetime.
You can sign up to a rolling subscription with Brushbox, or order a year’s supply so that your bathroom cupboard’s always stocked with a fresh brush (get my brushes).
When you buy a year’s supply, we’ll also donate 6 brushes to children in need and plant 6 trees. It’s a winner all-round.
We hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any more suggestions on reducing plastic consumption, please comment them below to help out our community of eco-warriors.