Every year around 8 million tons of plastic waste infiltrates earth’s oceans from coastal nations, most of which does not biodegrade easily (often taking around 500 years to decompose), contains chemical toxins and is harmful to wildlife.
There have been many governmental attempts to reduce the volume of plastic waste that pollutes the world, but ultimately it’s personal choices and actions that will change the tide of the toxic plastic wave.
It only takes a few very easy lifestyle changes to help reduce your plastic waste and carbon footprint. We have detailed some key simple ways to reduce plastic consumption at home and in your everyday lives in the below tips.
Carry a reusable water bottle
Every day over 60 million plastic bottles are simply thrown away in the US, and in the UK it’s around 16 million per day – most of which ends up in landfill or littering streets and the ocean.
Next time you leave the house, ask yourself, will I get thirsty whilst i’m out? If the answer is yes, remember to take a reusable bottle and you’ll instantly eliminate the need to buy and use a plastic bottle.
Bring shopping bags with you
There has been a 95% reduction in single-use plastic shopping bags in supermarkets in the UK since the carrier bag charge came into place in 2015. However, many people still rely on shops to provide bags for them, which are often made of plastic, and are simply thrown away and not recycled.
If you haven’t got a couple of eco-friendly reusable shopping bags already, then do get yourself some – they make great gifts for friends and family too! Look out for bags made from organic cotton, recycled materials or ethically grown bamboo.
Take reusable coffee and tea cups
Due to the plastic lining inside takeaway coffee cups, it makes them near impossible to recycle them in their original form – in the UK alone 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away, with less than 1 in 400 of them being recycled.
Many high street coffee shops offer a discount when you bring your own reusable cup, so not only will you be helping reduce plastic waste, but you’ll be saving money too!
Choose fruit and veg that’s not in plastic packaging
Unfortunately we’re all confronted with supermarkets that use plastic packaging to wrap some fruit and vegetables, which is wholly unnecessary and is devastatingly harmful on our planet.
When selecting your fruit and veg, always choose the non-plastic covered versions – if you see bananas wrapped in plastic next to bananas without plastic, go with the non-plastic version. It’s as simple as that! And if possible, grow your own herbs, veg and fruit at home.
Use eco friendly clothes hangers
An essential in every household is having something to dry your washed clothes on. Whether you use clothes pegs on a line, or you use a drying rack, choose to use wooden or versions made from recycled materials. They will not only last longer and look better, but it’ll also reduce plastic waste.
Say no to plastic straws
It’s estimated that 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches, and given that it takes around 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose, they’re going to be around for many years to come. It’s heartbreaking to think about how many animals are harmed trying to eat plastic straws.
If ever given a plastic straw in a restaurant or bar, simply say no and ask if they have an environmentally friendly alternative – you can get eco straws made from bamboo, stainless steel, paper and glass.
Choose eco-friendly lunchboxes
Instead of using plastic lunch boxes, there are many great eco-friendly alternatives to choose from. Lunch boxes made from bamboo, stainless steel and glass are more environmentally friendly and contain less harmful toxins compared to plastic versions.
Carry your own cutlery
How many times have you bought a salad, yogurt, or some pasta whilst out and about but the only cutlery on offer in the shop or supermarket is plastic? If you can relate, now is the time to make that a thing of the past.
Keep a spoon and fork (or spork!) in your bag at all times and you’ll rarely find yourself in the same plastic predicament again.
Use sustainable sandwich bags
Plastic sandwich bags add to the 500 billion single-use plastic bags used every year worldwide. Fundamentally they can’t be broken down or recycled easily, and in most cases end up as plastic microbeads that pollute our oceans and soil.
Instead, choose to use sandwich bags that are made from sustainable materials such as beeswax, paper, cloth or simply put your sandwiches in an eco-friendly lunch box.
Choose to use plastic-free toiletries and cosmetics
The global cosmetics industry is estimated to produce 120 billion units of packaging every year. Most of that is either too difficult to recycle (i.e. the different components are not not easily separated into recyclable elements), or they are simply thrown away and end up in landfill.
There are many eco-conscious cosmetic brands that use sustainably made products – see our Best Eco Friendly Makeup Brands article here – which all help to eliminate single-use plastics from our lifestyle.
Avoid single-use plastic childrens toys
Fossil fuels are used to create plastic toys, many of which contain harmful toxins that children end up playing with (not to mention putting in their mouths!) and ultimately contribute to the environmental crisis.
If you’re buying children’s toys, look for wooden, natural rubber, paper-based or organic cotton and wool alternatives. They will last longer but can also be reused and have the ability to biodegrade at the end of their life.
There are many simple eco-friendly lifestyle changes each and every one of us can make to help reduce plastic usage, and ultimately plastic waste.
If you’re able to have a plastic-free mindset everyday, questioning every item of plastic you come into contact with, then your awareness of what is and isn’t essential will give you clarity.
We hope you’re able to adopt some of the tips we have highlighted to help you reduce plastic waste – please let us know in the comments below if you have any other great ways you adopt to reduce plastic usage.
Similarly, if you have any zero-waste ideas you’d like to share with us, or an environmentally friendly product that you would like us to feature on the site, email us with your details: firstname.lastname@example.org