Reduce plastic waste

We live in a plastic world. When doing my research for this post, I found many articles detailing how to live a plastic-free life. It shocked me how bad plastic is for the environment. The clean-up costs are astronomical, it takes thousands of years to break down, it fills up our landfills and has a devastating effect on wildlife. It ends up in the stomachs of birds and other small animals as well as polluting our oceans. In short – plastic is bad news!

However, embarking on a plastic-free lifestyle is not a walk in the park – because there is SO much plastic in our everyday lives. It would be a complete lifestyle change to avoid it altogether. But, there are some very simple things that you can do to cut down on your plastic waste – and every little thing counts if you can do your bit.

Here are 10 fuss-free ways to reduce your plastic waste:

Carry a reusable water bottle

Buying bottled water can be tempting, especially on the way to the gym or on a hot summer’s day. However, water bottle plastic is a big problem and makes up a large percentage of our plastic waste. More and more cities and towns are participating in campaigns such as Refill, which aims to make refilling your water bottle easy, convenient and as cheap as possible. You can throw an empty bottle in your bag and have the peace of mind that you won’t be far away from somewhere where you can fill up with no hassle or cost.

Ditch the disposable coffee cups

A cardboard disposable coffee cup may look recyclable, however what many people don’t know is that they are lined with plastic to make them waterproof and able to hold liquid. This means that the majority of coffee cups are unable to be recycled. Recently, I’ve got into the habit of carrying a reusable coffee cup around with me, and I’ve even ditched buying coffee on the go, in favour of making my own at home. Most coffee houses will give a discount for bringing in a reusable coffee cup – so you can help protect the environment and your wallet will thank you.

Switch to tea leaves

I recently learned that teabags are also lined with plastic, which makes them not fully biodegradable. Instead, spend a bit more time brewing and buy loose tea leaves and an infuser – the tea actually tastes so much nicer – and you can fully compost the dregs afterwards.

Pack a plastic bag at all times

It is always a grumble to pay 5p (or in some cases 10p!) for a plastic bag, but there’s a reason retailers are discouraging us from using their bags at every opportunity. Campaigners say that plastic bags can take 1,000 years to decompose, as well as being harmful to wildlife and costing the government £10 million a year to clean up. Instead, make sure you carry a pre-owned plastic bag with you at all times. You could even buy a foldable version – either way you won’t be caught short when you make that impulse Topshop purchase on your lunch break!

Sign up to a fruit and veg box

Unfortunately, when buying fruit and veg in bulk at the supermarket, most of it comes in plastic packaging – and even when buying single items you are expected to place them in plastic vegetable bags. If you buy a lot of produce, you can solve this problem by signing up to a weekly fruit and vegetable box, such as Abel & Cole or Riverford Organic Farmers. The food will come in a recyclable cardboard box – which will often be picked up by the supplier afterwards so they can use it again. A win win situation!

Say no to straws

Straws are a great example of ‘single-life plastic’ – aka unnecessary plastic that ends up on our beaches, in the ocean and in the stomachs of wildlife. For twenty minutes of use – they are pretty damaging to the planet! You can either specifically ask for no straw when ordering your drink or bring along a stainless steel straw if you insist on using one.

Don’t take disposable cutlery if you don’t need it

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you can avoid taking disposable cutlery it can be an easy way to cut down on plastic waste. Either try to rely on office utensils, or throw a fork into your bag so it’s with you at all times (or even better, a spork!).

Give up the gum

Chewing gum is basically chewing plastic. There’s no coincidence that you can chew gum for hours and hours and it never breaks down. It is made from a synthetic plastic – so it’s best to stick to mints or find an all-natural chewing gum.

Get savvy with plastic-free beauty products

If you really take the time to do your research, most products can be purchased without a need for plastic packaging. More and more high street brands are supporting a cut down on plastic, and one in particular is LUSH. You can buy their famous shower gels in ‘naked’ form, which is exactly the same product, without the plastic. Plus – they actually last twice as long. Once I’ve come to the end of my existing shower products I’ll be paying them a visit. You can also get shampoo and conditioning bars, plus all of their pots can be taken back to be recycled.

Leave the hotel travel minis

As tempting as it may be to take advantage of the free travel minis in some hotels – this is only adding to our plastic waste. I have been guilty of stocking up on hotel shampoo and conditioner for trips away, however it’s just as easy for me to bring my own or decant into smaller bottles. I much prefer to use my own beauty products when travelling, and it doesn’t take much effort for me to use what I’ve already got!

Are there any other ways to easily reduce plastic waste? I am always looking for ways to do my bit – so let me know in the comments.