How to reduce your plastic consumption

Child playing

Thanks to greater awareness and concern about the environment, there have been steady changes in relation to the amount of plastic we use: the plastic bag fee which came into effect in October 2015 for example, and the ban of plastic straws.

Concerns over plastic pollution continue to rise. Still, every day, it is estimated that eight million pieces of plastic are discarded into the ocean, and microplastics have even been discovered embedded deep in arctic ice. Our casual plastic use has been proven to be damaging marine life.

Larger scale changes have been set in motion, but it is the small lifestyle changes that we can all make that will make a difference, say Where The Trade Buys. The nationwide printing business suggests that we forget our more optimistic new year’s resolutions and instead drop the plastic and has put together some small changes that will help you achieve this goal, both at home and work:

1. Only buy unpackaged fruit and veg

Retailers are placing a greater focus on providing packaging free products. If you have the option, buy loose or choose to load up brown paper bags with fruit and veg rather than choosing pre-packed fresh produce.  

2. Invest in a reusable coffee cup and water bottle

Plastic bottles take a staggering 450 years to decompose, so are a huge contributor to waste materials. Make the switch to reusable items. KeepCups and Chilly’s Bottles are popular brands that focus on sustainable products.

3. Say no to plastic bags and straws

Nowadays, the UK is saying no to these items more so than in previous decades. However, it can still be difficult to avoid them at times. When you pick up a takeaway for example, don’t be afraid to say no to any excess plastic your food comes in. 

4. Switch to soap and shampoo bars rather than bottles

Unnecessary amounts of plastic packaging always seem to come with hand soaps and shampoos. But they work perfectly well in bar form. This is another tiny switch that will make little difference to anyone’s daily routine and help out the environment. 

5. Get your hands on a bamboo toothbrush

A plastic toothbrush takes 400 years to decompose - so think about how many you go through in a lifetime. A bamboo toothbrush on the other hand, only takes five to 10 years — minimal in comparison!

6. Find a refill station for your laundry detergent and washing up liquid

Rather than throwing away the empty washing up liquid bottle, refill it! Lots of sustainable shops now offer this service, making it easier than ever to opt for refills rather than waste more plastic.

7. Shop at ‘zero waste’ shops

The idea of zero waste shops is that they sell produce with absolutely no plastic packaging. Switching up your shopping routine and choosing a zero-waste shop for at least part of your purchasing would be a great habit to get into in 2021. You can find a list of zero waste shops and where to find them here.

8. Up your sustainable Tupperware game

In relation to this, make the switch to sustainable Tupperware. There are plenty of alternatives to wasteful plastic Tupperware, such as bamboo, glass, or stainless-steel alternatives. Oxfam does a great range.

9. Cut down on shopping and spending

Although this isn’t the easiest lifestyle change to make, it is essential. Every time you buy something, especially online, it is likely to come swaddled in needless layers of plastic. If you cut down on this spending, you could make a real environmental change – and of course save some cash!

10. Switch to beeswax wrap rather than clingfilm

One final factor that is often forgotten about is sustainable food storage. We throw away single use clingfilm without a second thought, because it seems like such a necessity within our lives. Now however, there are plenty of alternatives to use if you want to go plastic free. Beeswrap, for example, is a ‘natural alternative to plastic wrap’ which can be used time and time again.

Once you’ve made the active effort to make some changes to your everyday routine, these practices will be easy to adjust to and keep up. They will soon become second nature. If everyone chips in and makes an effort towards sustainability, it can only have a positive effect on our oceans.

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/04/10-ways-new-years-resolution-life-with-less-plastic

http://www.pfree.co.uk/tag/new-years-resolution/

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/10-resolutions-to-help-the-planet-in-2019_uk_5c176d52e4b009b8aea8de94

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/there-will-be-more-plastic-than-fish-in-the-oceans/

https://www.wherethetradebuys.co.uk/

https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/plastic-pollution/plastic-pollution-facts-figures/          

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/22/england-plastic-straws-ban

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-long-does-it-take-garbage-to-decompose-2878033

https://www.beeswrap.com/

https://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/sourced-by-oxfam/home-and-gift/kitchen/reusable-bamboo-lunch-box-in-terrazzo-navy-hn502736