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Plastic and plastic waste is pervasive – just this week it was reported that scientists have found plastic particles in tap water around the world, which is a pretty horrible thought, don’t you think?
If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of single use plastic in your life I’ve put together ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste that can be done without too much thought or effort. As with anything, reducing plastic waste is about changing habits, and it can take time for those habits to stick. My best advice is to go easy on yourself and take things at a comfortable pace:
Ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste
1. Ditch the straws
I’m personally not a massive straw user, but my kids love a straw, and I have found they are more likely to drink a cup of water if they have a straw. Kid logic! We have managed to switched to stainless steel straws* without complaint. If you are drinking something a little thicker than water or juice (or gin!) – say a smoothie – you might want to invest in a little brush to keep your straws clean, otherwise you can just pop them in the dishwasher or hand wash in the sink. Easy peasy!
2. Switch to reusable sanitary protections
There are heaps of great reusable sanitary protection out there – it’s just a case of working out what is the right option for you. I have been slowly getting to grips with Intimina’s Lily Cup*, but if cups aren’t for you there are a plethora of options, from washable sanitary towels to sponges.
3. Say no to plastic bags
With the 5p carrier bag charge already seeing impressive results it seems so many people are ditching the carrier bags. I admit it can be tricky to always remember to keep a bag on you, but I try and keep a small foldable shopping bag in my regular bag, and also keep shopping bags in the boot of my car so I’m less less likely to be caught out.
4. Skip the disposable coffee cup
Disposable coffee cups are notoriously difficult to recycle so if you’re a regular coffee on the go drinker consider investing in a reusable coffee cup. There are heaps of great options out there – from Keep Cup to Frank Green – and many coffee shops offer a discount if you bring your own cup, meaning your reusable cup will eventually pay for itself.
5. Carry a bottle of water
One of the easiest ways to reduce single use plastic is to switch to a reusable water bottle. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy, any old bottle will do. I was sent a Jerry Bottle which I loved so much that I bought one for my partner too as all profits go to water charities, but pretty much every supermarket and high street sell reusable bottles. Whilst it is an easy swap, like reusable bags, the biggest challenge is all about remembering to refill your bottle and put it in your bag everyday!
6. Make your own cleaning products
A lot of our plastic waste came from cleaning product bottles but now that we make our own cleaning products, that plastic waste has reduced. I’ve got a few recipes in my archives, and I will share some more in the coming months.
7. Green your beauty routine
There are a few articles in my archives on how to de-plasticise your beauty routine. This post is a great starting point as is this more up-to-date post, and this post on how to make your own reusable cotton wool pads is pretty handy!
8. If you have kids, give reusable nappies a go
Reusable nappies are the most amazing thing ever. Gone are the days of folding and pinning – washable nappies are so easy to use and cut down on waste big time. While the up front investment can be high (around £200 for a full set) at around £5 for a pack of disposable nappies a time, savings are soon made, especially if you go on to have another child. My youngest is now 20 months old and as this is the second time we’ve used the nappies we recouped our investment quite some time ago, and are well into the saving money stage.
The important thing to remember is it doesn’t have to be all or nothing with reusable nappies – if you don’t want to use them when you go out or when you go on holiday then no worries – just supplement them with disposables and you are still reducing your plastic waste. We use a disposable at night time, and if we go away overnight and I don’t consider that a failure by any means.
9. Consider your food storage
There are heaps of eco friendly alternatives to cling film from using what you have in your kitchen (from jars, to tupperware, to plates and even saucepan lids!) and you can even make beeswax wrap (or buy it online*) for a true alternative to cling film.
10. Skip the disposable cutlery
Lastly, it’s a great idea to get in the habit of carrying some cutlery in your bag with you for when you’re having lunch on the go. A simple camping set is handy to carry and inexpensive to pick up, or there are some lovely bamboo options available online if you’re looking for something a bit more lightweight.
Any tips on how you reduce plastic waste in your home?
If you are looking for more inspiration, this week is Zero Waste Week, organised by the lovely blogger Rachelle Strauss, so do check out the website and follow the #zerowasteweek hashtag on Twitter for more ideas, advice, tips and discussion.