I would love to think that I could go zero waste. In reality, as I have said before, it is really difficult to achieve. However, there are some easy swaps to help cut your plastic waste that don’t cost a lot of money. Some of them might even save you some cash. So, embrace your inner tree hugger and consider swapping some of your single use items for the following. Here are ten easy ways you can cut your plastic waste today.
Plastic bottles are everywhere and hard to avoid completely. However, there is one single use bottle that is easy to replace if you want to cut your plastic waste – your water bottle. We live in a country where the water from the tap is perfectly safe to drink and closely monitored. It makes no sense whatsoever to buy water when you are out and about when you can get it free (well, almost) at home.
According to this article in the Guardian last summer, “A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.” Do you want to be part of that, or part of the solution?
Investing in a reusable water bottle (and remembering to always take it out with you) will help you to do your bit. Buy them for your kids to take to school as well. If you like a juice, invest in two – one for water only so that it doesn’t get tainted and the other for anything fruity like a juice or a smoothie.
I prefer the metal lined and insulated kind such as this SHO one, as they don’t taint the taste of your water and help to keep it cool.
Reusable carrier bags
I was really happy when the UK Government introduced a charge on reusable plastic bags and it has dramatically reduced the number people use. However, I still see people in the supermarket or other retail outlets buying them. I always carry a little fold up bag that I got in the Coop. In fact, I have two as they fold up really small in my handbag. We have 4 or 5 large and strong reusable supermarket ones that live in the car boot, so we always have bags when we go food shopping.
On my wish list for Christmas are reusable organic cotton produce bags, which I can use at the market, supermarket and the food coop without worrying about taking home a load of plastic that will mostly go straight in the bin. This pack contains three large, four medium and three small bags. Using these consistently will really help to cut your plastic waste.
I have been using my bamboo and stainless steel travel mug when I am likely to buy tea or coffee out since my daughter bought it for me last Christmas. I am really happy with it! If we are out for the day we always take a flask of coffee anyway, as this saves money as well as on single use items.
The problem is that disposable coffee cups look like paper. However, they are lined with a layer of plastic to make them water proof. Products made of mixed materials are notoriously hard to recycle and most people bin them anyway. According to recent stats published in the Independent:
- UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year
- Less than 1 per cent of coffee cups are recycled
- Half a million cups are littered every day
- Packaging producers only pay for 10 per cent of the cost of packaging disposal and recycling
Cut your plastic waste by keeping a reusable coffee cup in your bag or even in your car.
I don’t use straws often at home, although I have a metal one sitting in my reusable glass water bottle on my desk at work. However, my daughters are often in bars where they are given plastic straws in their drinks without even being asked if they want one.
I bought each of them a pack of steel reusable straws for Christmas last year for them to keep in their handbags. Sadly, they don’t like them much – they get very cold if there is ice in the drink, bash against the glass and they are rigid with no flexibility. I am wondering if a better compromise might be these reusable silicone straws ? Perhaps one for this year’s stockings!
I have a whole cupboard full of things that could be used as a lunchbox. They are all plastic, some are old ice cream tubs that I continue to use for food storage rather than putting them in the recycling. As I take my lunch to work every day to keep costs down, they all get a lot of use. You can cut your plastic waste by reusing as many plastic food containers as possible.
If I was buying one for the first time, however, I would invest in stainless steel lunchbox , which should last pretty much forever!
Cut your plastic waste when cleaning your teeth
If you have never thought about what happens when you throw away your old plastic toothbrushes, read this article from the Huffington post. Every toothbrush you ever used has yet to break down. Bamboo toothbrushes such as this pack of four from Greener Pockets offer an eco-friendly, compostable alternative. Another one for my Christmas wish list.
If you want to cut your plastic waste, then how about buying a plastic-free wooden brush set? They look much nicer than the plastic variety and will last a lot longer. With a wooden scrubbing brush you can dump the plastic when you wash up all together.
Cut your plastic waste washing your hair
I have ranted on about how much I like shampoo bars so many times! I have had excellent ones from Lush so can highly recommend them. However, I also had one recently that someone gave me that was very harsh and drying. I recommend reading the reviews before you purchase.
As well cutting your plastic packaging waste, you may find that using shampoo bars makes your hair feel a lot less heavy and greasy. Some shampoos seem to be full of something that coats your hair. It may appear softer and shinier initially but I am sure this stuff builds up and can’t be good for you.
Go back to soap
I am old and crusty enough to remember a time when hand wash and shower gel didn’t exist! In fact, I have never truly embraced either of them and much prefer good, old fashioned soap. I buy pretty little dishes and lovely smelling soaps and have them next to each sink.
You can convert your soap into a body scrub or soap on a rope using these natural linen soap bags. Pop the soap in and hang by the shower.
What do you recommend to cut your plastic waste?
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