We all have a part to play in reducing our impact on this wonderful planet of ours and Plastic Free July is the perfect opportunity to do something and be part of the single-use plastic solution. According to National Geographic, 40% of plastic produced is packaging that is used once and then thrown away! The good news, however, is that it's simpler than you may think to swap from single-use plastics to reusables.
Small changes made by many make a big difference to our streets, oceans and communities. To help get you started, we share here 8 easy switches you can make to help reduce your usage of single-use plastic at home, work and when you travel, not just in July, but forever.
Simple ways to cut down on single-use plastic
1. Shop local
Whilst shopping at supermarkets is convenient, for sure, it’s not so great for your footprint. According to Greenpeace, supermarkets put over 900,000 tonnes of plastic packaging on their shelves a year, much of which makes its way into landfill and our oceans.
Help do your bit, not just for the planet, but for your local community, by looking to shop local as often as you can. Shop at your local bakery, butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer or check out your local farmers market and take your own containers and bags so they don’t need to use any single-use plastic to wrap your wares. Another great way to start your single-use plastic-free journey is to find out if you have a local bulk food store in your area. Here you can take along your own reusable containers and stock up on items such as flour, nuts, dried fruits, dishwashing liquid and much more, without a single plastic bag in sight.
2. Swap to soap
Switching your shower gel to a bar of soap is an easy, and really quite nice, way to avoid buying plastic. Pick a brand that uses cardboard to package its soap which can be easily recycled or added to your compost. Or better still, buy your soap without any packaging at your bulk food or health store or check out brands such as Lush, which is sold with no packaging.
3. Buy reusable airport security friendly liquid bags
We love to travel, but we don’t like the annoying single-use plastic bags at airport security. An alternative is to travel with a travel wash bag that includes a detachable airport security liquid bag that can be used time and time again. Our Emma 3 in 1 Hanging Travel Wash Bag and our Amy 3 n 1 Makeup Wallet both include a 1 litre TSA compliant transparent liquid bag that can easily be detached from the rest of the washbag at airport security.
Not only is this good for the environment, but it saves a lot of time and stress whilst you’re on the move. Read our Liquids Promise to find out more and never have an item confiscated at airport security again.
4. Avoid bottled water
This is a simple and easy swap that many of us have already made, but still worth mentioning. Bottled water not only comes in a plastic bottle, adding to plastic pollution after use, but its production uses a huge amount of fossil fuels making it even less eco-friendly. Switch to a reusable bottle and carry it in your handbag. Remember, if you’re flying you can take your bottle with you (most airports have water refill stations), but don’t forget to fill it up once you’re through airport security unless you’re very thirsty!
5. Meet your milkman
Some of you reading this will remember the sound of clinking glass bottles and the quiet whirr of the electric milk van snailing up your street from your childhood. Home milk delivery in returnable glass bottles was common for most families right up until the 1970’s. It was only once convenience stores and supermarkets made it cheaper and easier to buy milk that the local milkman faded away.
The good news is that glass-bottled milk delivery is making a comeback and swapping your plastic bottle of milk for a returnable glass bottle is a great switch to help reduce your single-use plastic. Go to findmeamilkman.net to find a list of local diaries delivering in your area.
6. Replace clingfilm with other food storage alternatives
Clingfilm has been a staple in our kitchen drawers since we can remember, but when it comes to the single-use element of this plastic, it’s one of the worst culprits. Use tupperware boxes that can be washed and reused to store leftovers in the fridge or pack your sandwiches. If you’re wanting to get away from plastic entirely, reuse old jam and large pickle jars or seek out clingfilm alternatives now available, such as reusable beeswax food wraps, silicone stretch lids and paper sandwich bags or fabric elasticated food covers.
7. Swap tea bags
Whilst a lovely cup of tea can be the answer to many a problem, it’s not always such a good option for the planet. Most of us think a tea bag is made from just thin paper and tea leaves, but many teabags use polypropylene to seal them, which means even if you’re composting them, there’s a risk that toxins will leak into the ground.
Other options aside from sacrificing one of the best drinks of all time is to use loose tea or look for brands selling plastic-free bags, as well as plastic-free packaging. Clipper Organic and Teapigs are just some of the brands you will find in your supermarket or local shops offering a plastic-free promise.
8. Buy Less
Buying items that are well-made from good quality materials and are designed to last is a simple swap we all can make. And it’s not only good for the planet but good for you. According to a study by the University of Arizona, people who consume less are happier than those who engage in other pro-environmental consumer habits, such as buying eco-friendly products. Making more conscious decisions about what we buy, whether that’s waiting and saving up for a better quality item rather than a throwaway buy or asking ourselves if we really need it, buying less, but better, is preferable all-round.
We’d love to hear what swaps you’re making to reduce your use of single-use plastic. Share your tips in the comments box below. For more information about Plastic Free July and what you can do to be part of the solution, visit www.plasticfreejuly.org.