Want to be kinder to the environment? The work doesn’t stop at plastic straws. Here are some other easy ways you can reduce your single-use plastic to help our planet!
There have been many news stories and articles about the amount of plastic that is dumped into landfill or into the sea, but what are we doing to slow down this waste problem? If each individual reduces the amount of plastic they use, we can significantly reduce the volume of plastic going into disposal and damaging our ecosystem. Here are some super easy swaps you can make in your daily life to stop using as much single-use plastic.
What is the problem with single-use plastic?
Most plastic products are not biodegradable, meaning they can last on our planet for hundreds of years without breaking down. As much as 40% of the plastic we use globally is single-use, which is then discarded to clog up our landfills or littered in nature. This plastic can have a detrimental impact on the flora and fauna it comes into contact with, as well as contributing to the overall climate change problem. While some plastic is recyclable, unfortunately this is not the case for all plastics and even in cases where the single-use plastic product is designed to be recyclable, such as certain coffee cups, only 1 in 400 on average are actually recycled.
Ways to reduce your single-use plastic
Prepare your drinks and snacks in advance
Are you going out on a walk to meet a friend for a coffee? Not only is it more eco friendly to bring your reusable coffee cup with you, it is cheaper too! Most coffee shops aren’t accepting recyclable cups at the moment due to social distancing measures, however you can prepare your coffee at home and drink it as you go. If and when you are able to use recyclable coffee cups in shops again, lots offer discounted prices as an incentive to reduce plastic waste so you can save a little cash each time.
The same goes for reusable water bottles – there are so many cool bottles on the market that allow you to bring your own water with you, rather than picking up single-use plastic water bottles while you’re roaming around.
If you know you are going to be out and about for a while, and are likely to want to eat something, try to avoid going to places where food is prepackaged, such as supermarkets. Either bring your own food with you in reusable containers (remember your forks or spoons too!), or visit businesses that offer unpackaged food items. As with most consumer goods, supply is driven by demand. If demand for prepackaged items reduces, less will be produced in response.
Buy refillable or unpacked items
As part of their pledges to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly, many businesses are now offering the option to purchase refillable packaging to reduce the plastic used. For example, surface cleaners can now be purchased in little pouring bags that you can fill your old spray bottles with to avoid purchasing new spray bottles each time you need to get new cleaning supplies. Try to do some research into the products you purchase regularly to see if there are easy ways for you to make some swaps in your weekly shop.
Another thing you can do as you wander the aisles in your local supermarkets is to keep an eye out for unpacked fruit and vegetables and opt for these. For example, there are often options to buy either packaged or unpackaged bananas. But think about how ridiculous that is; bananas have their very own natural packaging – why would they need to be wrapped in a plastic bag too? Opt for the unpackaged options where you can.
Even better than this is to find a local greengrocer or plastic-free shops that you can take your own reusable containers to and fill for yourself. Get your fresh fruit and veg, grains and lots more, all plastic-free!
Always carry a tote bag
While in many places you now have to pay to use a plastic bag at a shop or supermarket, you can stop using plastic bags altogether. You may not always plan to pop into a shop when you head out for the day, but make a habit of bringing a reusable tote bag with you just in case so you can avoid ever having to use a plastic shopping bag to carry your goods. There are lots of cool designs to choose from, some that fold up small to fit in your pocket so you never have to be without a reusable bag.
Try to question each plastic usage
So much of our use of plastic is done out of convenience or habit – we may not even realise we are doing it most of the time. Over the next couple of days, try to notice where and when you are using plastic products and ask yourself if there’s another way you could do this in order to stop using this plastic. Stop using cling film, use metal straws and reusable washcloths, even just chat to friends and family about the changes you have made to encourage them to do the same. By making small, incremental changes over the course of your lifetime, you could significantly reduce your impact on the plastic wastage and make the world that little bit better.
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.