Thanks to David Attenborough and his team, the recent TV series of ‘Planet Earth II’ has helped draw attention to the plight of our oceans drowning in plastic and the damage it does to the wildlife and ultimately our planet. David and this weeks news headlines have called on us to ditch using the plastic, but how do we use less?
Here’s eight ways to get you started:
1. Use refillable stainless steel bottles for your water
“Here in the UK, the average household uses 480 plastic bottles a year, but only recycles 270 of them – meaning nearly half (44%) are NOT put in the recycling. This means that nationally, of the over 35 million plastic bottles being used every day in the UK, nearly 16 million plastic bottles aren’t being put out for recycling.
If just one in ten Brits refilled once a week, we’d have 340 million less plastic bottles a year in circulation!” Re-Fill
Better to use something refillable, like a stainless steel bottle. Many venues around the UK are bringing back traditional water fountains and there’s an app you can download to find your nearest re-fill stop. See ‘Re-Fill’ for more information.
2. Get your milk delivered by the milkman
Milk cartons are made from a mixture of cardboard, plastic and aluminum. This means they are difficult to recycle. Whereas a glass bottle can be returned and re-used time and time again.
Click here to find out more about milk delivery.
3. Use a bag for life, instead of a plastic bag
According to reports (Guardian Jul 2017), there has been an 83% reduction in single-use carrier bag sales since the instruction of a 5p charge in England. If you haven’t already, get some bags stuffed in your handbag/manbag/car boot and then you’ll always have them handy.
4. Use a bamboo toothbrush
Stats claim that we use billions of plastic toothbrushes every year. Next time, you’re due to replace your toothbrush, try switching to bamboo.
Bamboo is a natural plant based material which, at the end of its life, is totally biodegradable and can even be composted. Look for the brands that have a ‘Nylon4’ bristle, which is also biodegradable.
Keep your old plastic toothbrushes in your cleaning cupboard – I find them particularly useful for cleaning shower grouting or difficult spots in the oven!
5. Store left overs in glass jars instead of plastic bags or cling film
Easy this one. Everytime you use up a pot of marmalade, keep the jar for storage for left overs.
6. Take a re-usable cup for your take away coffee
“We throw away 7 million coffee cups a day and less than 1% are currently recycled”
So called disposable coffee cups are difficult to recycle as they are made up of different layers of materials and there are only a handful of recycling centres that can recycle them.
Keep a re-usable cup with you for when you’re next picking up your takeaway coffee. Many coffee shops offer a discount if you’re re-using a cup or offer extra reward stamps.
If you’re in London, keep your eyes peeled for Hubbub’s ‘Square Mile Challenge’ – special collection points for coffee cups, where the cups will be recycled. http://www.squaremilechallenge.co.uk/
7. Say no to plastic straws
Do you need a plastic straw in that gin and tonic?! Anytime you’re in a bar, restaurant or hotel, make sure you ask them to remove the straw. Hopefully, the more we ask them to remove it, the more they’ll get the message. Weatherspoons have just announced (Jan 2018) that they will be removing plastic straws from their pub chains – that’s a whopping 70 million straws saved by them alone.
8. Skip the plastic produce bags
Another easy one. Go for the fruit and veg that are not in the plastic pre-packed options, but go for the loose offering instead. Yes, your apples might roll around your trolley, but why do they need to go in a plastic bag?!!
For further information on ways to upcycle, check out my Pinterest boards. A couple, in particular, are relevant to this article…
If you find you have a cupboard full of plastic bags, this board has a collection of ways to recycle them. Ways to upcycle plastic bags
If you do end up using a disposable coffee cup – don’t bin it, re-use it. Loads of ideas here: Ways to upcycle coffee cups