We needn’t tell you how bad plastic is for the environment. We needn’t tell you that plastic waste never really goes away, and you obviously know that even recycled plastic can only be recycled a few times before it can’t be used anymore and gets hurled into landfill with all the other unrecyclable nasties.
It’s an unarguable fact that we should all try to cut out plastic in our daily lives. From supermarket bags to office stationery, we can all make a few simple changes to help save the planet – and, conveniently, save some money (which also contains plastic, by the way).
Here are a few things we can all do to cut down on the plastic…
If you don’t carry a bag *within* your bag or backpack you’re definitely not one of the cool kids. Grab a cotton tote or a canvas bag and rock it like you save the planet before breakfast. Those supermarket ‘bags for life’ might be convenient, but given that they are still plastic, and in our experience, the ‘life’ element lasts until you spill something into them, you’re far better off going for a more durable, long-lasting and washable bag made of natural materials.
The move towards paper and metal straws and cutlery has really taken off, and again, if you want to publicly demonstrate your commitment to living the anti-plastic life, its simply de riguer to carry your own portable cutlery drawer. It’s easy to grab essential cutlery from your own cutlery set at home and keep it in a cloth bag. You might feel all groovy having adopted a metal straw habit, but don’t forget you’re a grown-up now and can sip from a glass without spilling anything, so can ditch the straws altogether!
Repeat after us: ‘I don’t need a bag, thanks’. How many times have you been handed something you’ve bought – that’s already in plastic – in plastic? Too many. There are a number of stores which now sell loose products – where you take your own storage, like glass jars or cotton bags. Buy in bulk, and you save money too. Grab loose fruit and veg rather than packaged items.
Buy a loose bread roll from the supermarket at lunchtime and the bag it’s in will be used for a matter of seconds before we throw it away – were it will lurk for millennia. Ditch it! The more of us who stand up and tell the shops we don’t want or need plastic wrapped food, the more likely they are to start listening.
Re-think that pre-packed lunchtime sandwich or salad and bring one from home. It’s healthier, cheaper and won’t be sealed in plastic. Ditch the cling film and use something like waxed cotton that you can make yourself if you’re up for the task, and always aim to buy items that aren’t wrapped in plastic.
While you’re there, you might as well question the entire food chain, and join the good people who are aiming to make our shops – and shopping habits – better for the planet, for health, environment, animal welfare and social justice.
Bottled water takes more water to make the bottle than the water inside it. Put simply, it takes three litres of water to make a one-litre plastic water bottle. That’s pretty insane. UK tap water is generally ok to drink, and there’s a number of places across London where you can refill your own bottle with free, public, filtered water. And you should have your own bottle. It will not only save you a lot of money, but also avoid a massive amount of plastic water bottles going into landfill. While last year’s UK water sales hit four billion litres, there are more and more initiatives afoot to create recycled and recyclable bottles.
Don’t fancy drinking tap water? Grab some Japanese charcoal, which filters your water naturally, cheaply, and can even be burnt, used as fertiliser or as a sneaker deodorant at the end of its useful filtering life.
Every action helps, and each individual who takes a stance on reducing or refusing single-use plastics is helping the movement. Take the time to understand where plastic is used (pretty much in everything to be honest) and then take a little more time to research some alternatives. Did you know there’s plastic in most man-made fibres, teabags, wet wipes and loo paper, for example? Those cardboard milk cartons have plastic linings, and so do drink cans.
But don’t go too mad trying to cut plastic out of your life. As the saying goes, don’t sweat the small stuff. Make the effort to make some small changes in your life, go do a litter pick up, actively aim to use and consume less, then enjoy basking in the glory of a less-plastic filled world. If you want to do more than just reduce your plastic consumption, have a read of our recent blog on achieving a more sustainable office space.