Over recent years, society has a whole has taken note on how our everyday lives are impacting the environment, with more emphasis placed on the materials we use.
One of the major areas for concern is the amount of plastic we are using, and the volume of waste that is being created from it. If plastic waste isn’t disposed of in the right way, it can seriously harm our planet, so why are we still using it in such large quantities?
Reducing your plastic waste needn’t be a difficult challenge – all you need to do is make a few simple changes to become a biodegradable convert. Here are our top tips to bringing down your plastic waste at home and on the go.
Ditch the food packaging
A serial offender of the plastic waste world, food packaging is one area where we can all make an impact in reducing plastic. Supermarket shelves are filled with products in plastic wrapping, and none more so than the fresh aisles. Whether it is apples and mangos, or potatoes and onions, the modern day thought process seems to be that all our fruit and veg needs to be protected by plastics when it hits the shelves. But it doesn’t.
As soon as you get home you take the products out of the wrappers, so why bother with them in the first place? A simple switch from buying fresh produce that’s been packaged up to opting for loose fruit and veg will save an enormous amount of plastic. Plus, there’s something a little bit more authentic about choosing exactly which items you want, rather than just getting the ones given to you in a packet – shopping done how it should be!
The use of cardboard in packaging may seem like a bit of a throwback, but it’s the way forward if you’re wanting to reduce the amount of waste plastic passing through your home. Plastic seems to have replaced this sturdy material, with boxes being swapped out for bottles and wrappers instead. But for ease of recycling, we need to readopt cardboard as our go-to packaging.
Everyday household items like washing detergent, pasta and fruit juices all come in cardboard packaging, so if you have the choice opt for cardboard over plastic.
A bag is for life, not just for one purchase
Even though charges are in place for plastic bags in shops and supermarkets, we still find ourselves buying them. At a cost of 5p or, in some cases, 10p a bag, a weekly trip to the shops could results in you buying upwards of 10 carrier bags to get your supplies home – on that average, that’s 520 bags a year, or in other words a lot of plastic.
Be prepared by getting a set of long-lasting bags to reduce your plastic emissions. Stores are now selling thicker plastic ‘bags for life’ that’ll last well, for life, and when they break, they’ll replace them for free. Other alternatives include the old-fashioned material sacks, woven carrying bags or the simple brown paper. Just remember to take them to the shops with you!
Refillable and reusable hydration
It’s so easy to pick up a coffee to-go on your way to work or grab a bottle of water when you’re out and about without giving a second thought to the materials involved. Buying bottled drinks is becoming second nature – it is expected that by 2021, 583.3bn plastic bottles will be sold worldwide a year – and this habit is beginning to outweigh the recycling work.
Swapping out these plastic containers can be done with one trip to the shop. Get yourself a vacuum flask or carrying cup and a robust sports drinking bottle, and buying plastic bottles will become a thing of the past. You can simply make your morning coffee at home and fill your flask up (some coffee shops will actually put your order into your thermal cup, if time is tight) and you’ll be able to drink to your heart’s content from your reusable bottle. Not only an easy and effective way to reduce your plastic usage, but you’ll also be able to save some cash in the long run.
The final straw
It’s hard to believe, but the simple drinking straw is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to plastic waste. In the US alone, over half a billion plastic straws are used every day – an astronomical figure! By using a straw with a drink at home then throwing it into your general waste bin, you’re causing plastic pollution.
If you’re wanting to use straws in your house, perhaps to help your kids with drinking out of a glass, then there is still a way you can do it without using plastic. By swapping out your plastic straws for paper ones, you’ll be causing less waste as paper straws can be easy to recycle and are biodegradable.
Extend your waste reduction ethos outside your home, with our guide on what to do with your garden waste