We’ve never been better or more conscious of reducing plastic usage as we are today. However, there is always room for improvement when it comes to looking after the environment. As they say, charity begins at home. While plastic has many uses and helps us complete daily tasks, it’s our consumption and disposal of it that is the problem.
The reason we have such a large global plastic pollution problem is because we use too many disposable and often needless plastic items such as straws, wipes, cups and bottles. Whilst there is only so much influence we can exert over big companies who produce too much plastic we are masters of our own homes and the changes we make collectively have the power to influence producers of plastic.
Carefully consider your shopping list
Before you start spending, think about your shopping list. Avoid buying single use plastics such as water bottles and invest in a reusable drinks bottle instead. Shun packaged goods such as fruit and veg and use your local greengrocer or market instead. Often this produce is local and reduces your carbon footprint too.
Invest in strong reusable bags
It’s simple enough – but people still forget to buy reusable bags or take ones they’ve purchased with them on the next trip to the shops. The best thing to do is buy some (or locate them in your cupboard) and pop them in back in the boot of the car once you’ve unpacked the shopping. It’ll be there ready for next time and will reduce plastic in your home in the form of those pesky plastic bags.
Avoid products containing microbeads
Microbeads found in face washes, toothpastes and other beauty items are often washed down the sink and end up in our oceans. The tiny size of the beads means they are ingested by marine life and can often end up back on our plates. Even tea bags sometimes contain microbeads that can’t be broken down. Check with the manufacturer if your brew is plastic free or consider switching to loose leaf tea.
Buy in bulk to reduce plastic in your home
Buying your food in bulk uses less packaging than buying smaller amounts of food more frequently. You can keep food such as cereal in tubs and it will save the environment and save you more money in the long term. Keep any old glass jam jars. They can be used in a variety of storage situations such as keeping fresh loose store-bought nuts and grains.
Cook from scratch
Avoid ready meals and takeaways packaged in plastic and cook from scratch with ingredients at home. You will not only cut your plastic consumption, but it will save you money and it’s healthier. Often ready meal plastic containers cannot be recycled so cooking with loose vegetables produces only compostable waste.
Find alternatives to wet wipes
Wet wipes and baby wipes are made with plastic resins such as polyester and are responsible for clogging drains when they are flushed down the toilet. They often end up floating around the seas and badly affecting marine life. The government is in talks about eliminating wipes in the hope that businesses will formulate eco alternatives, so it’s best to get used to living without them now.
Stick to natural fibres in clothing
This may sound odd, but clothing can contain plastic. Synthetic fibres such as polyester and lycra have tiny micro plastic fibres that come off in the wash and through general wear. Opt for natural fibres such as cotton, linen and wool to prevent this. Natural fibres can be worn in all weathers. Loose cotton garments are perfect for summer and wooly jumpers ideal for winter-wear.
Utilise refill stations
Retailers are starting to provide refillable stations for certain convenience items. Where possible, research your local area for facilities and take your own containers to refill your goods. This means you won’t have all the unnecessary packaging each time you shop. The most common goods available to be re-filled at the moment are: water, hand soap, dish soap, all purpose cleaner and laundry detergent.
Use toiletries with no packaging
Certain retailers specialise in toiletries with no packaging – such as soap and shampoo bars. Simply lather and place back on the side of the tub for the next use. There’s no packaging to throw away, so once the toiletries are gone, they’re gone.
Say no to straws
Plastic straws are a functionless plastic that are being banned in retailers and restaurants nationwide. If you want to have straws for a birthday party for example – opt for paper straws that are recyclable.