We all consume too much plastic but small changes to our daily habits can make for big positive improvements.
As consumers, we have a responsibility to cut the amount of plastic we use; just as much as industry has.
Just as recycling is a fixture in our lives now thanks to a widespread change in mindset, so too can we introduce reducing the amount of plastic we use.
To help us on our way, we’ve come up with seven adjustments we can make to our lifestyles - and they’re all easy to implement.
1 A nifty box in your car boot
A little bit of preparation can go a long way when you’re out and about. Store coffee cups, cutlery from your kitchen drawer and a bag for life in a container in your car boot and use them when on a high-street trip, for picnics and when you need to pop into a store to pick up some essentials.
Get into the habit and you’ll find you’ll never need to use plastic cups, utensils or bags ever again.
2 Buy individual fruit and vegetables
When doing your weekly shop - in-store, through home delivery or click-and-collect - buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than those which come in plastic bags.
Not only is this better for the environment but buying only what you need will also reduce your food bill and wastage.
When opting for home delivery, select the bagless option where available. None of us needs the amount of plastic bags supermarkets often send with the shopping to our doorsteps.
3 Refill at Zero Waste stores
Visit refillable stores for your kitchen cupboard essentials such as beans, rice, pasta and more.
Not only will this mean cutting down needless single-use packaging, it will also help the fight against food waste as you only buy what you need and eat healthier.
A lot of zero waste shops sell only fairtrade products as well as items such as bamboo toothrbrushes and metal lunchboxes, again reducing the reliance on plastic.
Most are independently owned so you’ll be supporting your local economy as well.
A handy list of what’s near you can be found here.
4 Try vintage and second-hand clothes shopping
If you’re the type of person who wants the individual look then switch from mass-made clothes in fast-changing fashion to vintage and second-hand outfits.
Most clothes today are made from polyester or acrylic, both forms of plastic. A lot of energy is required to produce polyester, plus it is dyed with waste making its way into our water systems and polluting rivers.
Wearing vintage or second-hand clothes also reduces the amount which goes into landfill.
Within the world of luxury fashion, Selfridges has recently launched its ‘Project Earth’ campaign and joined forces with HURR - a clothing rental service that allows you to try the latest designer trends in a more earth-conscious way.
5 Eco friendly laundry
Washing your clothes can damage the environment through the use of plastic - in packaging and product - and from chemicals used in the formula.
Eco-friendly options are available and, again, a switch in your habits can make a big difference.
Look out for a number of detergents made from natural ingredients or, one of our favourites, the EcoEgg laundry ball. Fill the egg with chemical-free pellets, which last for about 70 washes, and refill as necessary. Just 14p per wash and 10p per wash on refill.
An alternative is the Ecoleaf concentrated washing powder, with its fully recyclable packaging.
6 Better technology choices
We all love our smartphones and accessories and now we can reduce the use of plastic.
Plastic smartphone cases, watch bands and airpod cases not only hurt the planet but they are expensive too - and more appealing alternatives are now on the market.
Visit the Pela website to choose from a range of compostable covers and cases while giving your tech a beautiful upgrade.
7 Cosmetics: Make the switch
We want to finish with the area closest to our hearts.
More than 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year within the industry, most of which aren’t recyclable. Add to that the amount of microplastics used within formulas - in the UK alone this is estimated at 680 tonnes - and it is clear that a shift in the way we go about our daily routines is essential.
Choose brands which refuse to use plastic packaging, opt for alternative products which don’t come in plastic bottles. Look for reusable pads rather than disposable ones and use a gentle cleanser and a cotton flannel or washcloth to remove make-up.
Download the Beat the Microbead smartphone app and use it to make better choices when buying products.
Without consumers’ consent, we’ve been forced into a daily reliance on plastic within our cosmetics.
It’s time we fought back.
Bonus tip: Go on the plastic diet
Our good friends at the Plastic Soup Foundation have developed a neat smartphone app called My Little Plastic Footprint.
It helps us all gauge how much plastic we use and how we can all adopt a ‘plastic diet’. Give it a try and do your bit to heal our planet.