Ten Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste & Help The Environment

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Looking for some tips to reduce plastic waste? Right this way, my friend!

Plastic waste is pervasive. Just this week it was reported that scientists have found plastic particles in tap water around the world. This 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 then I’ve put together ten easy ways to reduce plastic waste. These action points can be made without too much thought or effort.

Ten Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

As with anything, reducing plastic waste is about changing habits. Therefore 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:

1. Ditch the straws

british gins to try

I’m personally not a massive straw user, but my kids love a straw. What I have found they are more likely to drink a cup of water if they have a straw. Kid logic! We have managed to switch to stainless steel straws (from &Keep) 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 pop them in the dishwasher or hand wash them in the sink. Easy peasy!

2. Switch to reusable sanitary protections

There are heaps of great reusable sanitary protection out there, allowing you to find the right option for you. I have been trying to get 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. If this swap isn’t for you, then there are heaps of more accessible eco-friendly period products that you can try – from organic cotton tampons to plastic-free sanitary pads.

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. 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 that I’m 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 glass cups from KeepCup (use the code MORALFIBRES20 to get 20% off full-priced orders) to foldable cups. Many coffee shops also offer a discount if you bring your own cup, meaning your reusable cup will eventually pay for itself.

5. Carry a bottle of water

zero waste lunch supplies

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. And pretty much every supermarket and high street sells 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 every day!

6. Make your own cleaning products

best green cleaning recipes

A lot of our plastic waste came from cleaning product bottles. However, now that we make our own cleaning products, that plastic waste has been reduced. I’ve got lots of recipes in my archives, and I’ve even written a book on the subject!

7. Green your beauty routine

Ten easy ways to reduce single use plastic waste

There are a few articles in my archives on how to reduce the plastic from your beauty routine. This post is a great starting point as is this more up-to-date post. This post on how to make your own reusable cotton wool pads is also pretty handy when you are cutting out the use of disposable wipes or cotton rounds.

8. If you have kids, give reusable nappies a go

washable nappies

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 upfront investment can be high – around £200 for a full set) at around £5 for a pack of disposable nappies at a time, savings are soon made. This is especially true 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. In fact, we 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 disposable nappies 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

beeswax food wrap diy

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!). You can even make beeswax wraps (or buy them 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? 

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  1. For number 2, a good alternative are Thinkx panties, especially if you don’t have heavy periods.

    For number 7, no using make-up is even less of a waste!

    And for cling film (number 10) I have never in my life found a single use case. Just don’t see the point.

    If you want to go further (and are lucky): seek out shops where you can bring your own containers. They often also look for old egg cartons, jars and plastic bags.

  2. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who still ends up with a glut of bags, paper and plastic. I donate to charity shops using them and pass them on when giving things to friends and relatives but it would still be so much easier if we could dump them at supermarkets, not in a recycling bin but in a “use again” basket for shoppers who have forgotten their bags to use for free.

  3. This is a great list of ideas – carrying a tote bag with me at all times changed the way I shopped forever. Your observations on cleaning products are really thought provoking – I’ve been trying to reduce packaging in the bathroom for a while but concentrating on toiletries. I must make the effort to evaluate cleaners now that I’ve made some positive swaps for what I use on my body.