We can all contribute to a healthier world. We all know that when it comes to creating change, it starts at home. The UK uses over 2,500 tonnes of plastic every year, and we recycle just 44.9% of that plastic in the UK. Here is a guide on how to start, and hopefully continue to change the world one bit of plastic at a time.
1. Don't take plastic freebies
Everyone likes a freebie. But is it really free? It may not have a monetary value, but it will cost the planet dearly. It is our responsibility to reduce the amount of plastic we produce and more importantly, the plastic that is thrown away. Don't forget that unless single use plastics are recycled, they will end up harming the environment, either by polluting the ocean or by being tangling around and endangering sea life.
2. Shop with reusable bags
It doesn't take much effort to take your own bag to the shops. You will save yourself some pennies and help prevent plastic bags floating around our beautiful cities. The best bags are made of cotton or any other organic material, so that when they need to be disposed they can biodegrade and return to the earth. However, there are really nice recycled plastic bags that could also be an option. Keep your bag close to your keys so you don't forget to take them with you.
3. Use glass containers
In the last few years we have seen the rise of glass containers to replace the traditional plastic ones. Granted, they are a bit more expensive, but the environmental advantages are just great, not to mention that the last longer and are quite versatile.
4. Buy sustainable toothbrushes
When it comes to oral hygiene we need to make sure that the products we choose are as friendly as we can. Plastic toothbrushes will end in landfill, so the most eco-friendly option is to choose bamboo toothbrushes. Some toothbrushes come with natural bristles usually animal hair, and while this may seem like the best option The London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry, warns that because natural bristles retain moisture, they’re “a breeding ground for bacteria and malodour”, and should, therefore, be avoided for health reasons. They recommend compromising between eco-friendliness and the need for effective dental care by using a bamboo-handled brush with plastic bristles.
5. Buy reusable food bags and wraps and cardboard packaging
Nowadays there are really nice alternatives to using plastic food bags. We've all had to have food on the go - bringing your lunch from home, while it may save some money, it can be detrimental to our planet to use plastic bags or even cling film. Instead, try using beeswax reusable wraps that not only are self sealing, but they keep your food fresher for longer too. They are easy to clean, they last for at least a year and can be re-waxed to last even longer. Plus, can be cleaned regularly using regular washing up liquid and cold water. It's a win-win!
Cardboard and recycled boxes and other packaging are widely recycled and can reduce the amount of rubbish that goes to landfills. Every effort helps when it comes to living better.
Brands we like: Beeswax Wraps
6. Opt for food in glass jars
Luckily for us some food manufacturers still sell produce in glass jars. Buying food in glass jars, such as olives and mayonnaise, pickles, etc. not only can be easily recycled, but can also be repurposed to organise your kitchen and store other foods, like grains, beans and other pulses.
7. Buy reusable bottles and coffee cups
One of the biggest issues with mass mindless consumption is waste. Luckily there are companies who are slowly but steadily gaining traction when it comes to creating more sustainable ways to deal with plastic. So when out and about, don't forget to take a reusable or travel coffee cup with you, not only will it save you some money (many retailers offer discounts when you bring your own cup) but it will reduce the number of paper (which have a plastic coating) cups being disposed. A similar thing happens with bottled water (since when has water become a commodity??). Don't forget to get your own reusable cup. If possible, buy a stainless steel bottle as it is more environmentally friendly, but since the aim is to reduce the amount of plastic we throw away, a sturdier reusable plastic bottle will do the trick.
8. Pick up waste plastic
Whether it's at the beach or when running errands, picking up plastic for recycling can be a heroic act. Well, not quite, but it could mean the difference between polluting or saving the environment. We all must do our bit; that is how we can reduce plastic pollution and have healthier lives and a healthier planet!
9. Support sustainable, plastic-free brands
What we choose defines who we are, right? Well, choose eco-friendly brands that truly care about the environment and that are committed to making a difference. Ask them whether they use eco-materials and offer compostable packaging. Research the brand first - what are their attributes and their promises? Does this resonate with me and who I am/want to be?
10. Shop at outdoor markets
The great thing about outdoor markets is that they provide fruits and vegetables that are packaging-free which makes them a really great alternative to plastic-heavy supermarkets. Produce doesn't really need to be packaged, the only reason they are is to promote consumption. Say no to plastic packaging where you can.