It should have become very obvious to most of us that the world's dependence on plastic is not doing us or the environment any favors. And it is well past the time when we need to live with less plastic. The environment is suffering... While we all know, on an intellectual level, that plastic is harming the environment, it has become so prolific in our lives that replacing it can be tough. If you feel that that you would like to live with less plastic in your life, the best thing for most people to do is to take it slowly, one step at a time. Perhaps by firstly coming to grips with doing away with single-use plastic.
Ten tips to avoid single-use plastic
When you go shopping
- One of the first and easiest changes to make is to take your own re-usable bags as many supermarkets and stores actively encourage you to do this. There is even a cost to you here in the UK if you don't bring your own reusable bags.
Cut out frozen meals because many of these come in containers that have plastic in them.
- Take a trip to the farmer’s market. As a rule, they don't use plastic packaging and you receive fresher - and often different types of produce. Local, and in-season, means less waste too. If you do end up needing to buying produce in a plastic container, return it to the farmer’s market when you’re done or re-use it every time you visit.
- Another tip is to grow your own produce (vegetables, herbs and fruit) or order a mixed week's supply from a local supplier to have it delivered to your home in a simple cardboard box.
- Buy non-perishable goods in bulk, reducing the need to go to the shops as often as well as the amount of plastic used in production per item purchased.
- Buy fresh bread from local bakeries (in a reusable bread bag, paper or no packaging), eliminating plastic wrapping waste from store-bought bread while helping to support local businesses.
- Buy milk in glass bottles you can return. Many small dairies are now offering their milk and other products in glass containers. Look for these in more independent supermarkets rather that the large chain stores.
- Buy beer, spirits and other beverages in glass bottles. It usually denotes a better quality product anyway. And of course those plastic bottles of water have become a no-no on so many levels.
- Use bar soap instead of liquid hand washing or shower gel in plastic containers. This is another easy alternative. Invest in attractive (non-plastic) soap dishes instead. And especially...
- Think about how you recycle and whether any plastic that you do send for recycling is handled correctly by your waste collection authority so that it goes on to have a second and further life ahead.
In the work place, you can also reduce your reliance on plastic
- Change to taking your own re-usable coffee cup when you fill up your coffee from the coffee machine or shop.
- Consider changing to a re-usable drink bottle to keep on your desk, to take with you when you walk, drive or take public transport to and from work. It can be stainless steel, glass or even copper.
- Use a washable and re-usable container to take your lunch or snacks to work to avoid those throwaway plastic bags.
Getting into the habit
Our homes are full of plastic items but it makes no sense at all to go throwing away any of those items that are being used. They are fulfilling a purpose and are definitely safer in your home
than in landfill or making their way through the waterways to the ocean.
Once they no longer function, they can then be safely recycled and replaced with a non-plastic version. Gradually, you may find that you are getting into the habit of using less and less plastic. And that is a good thing!
Tips For spreading the single-use plastic-free way
- Tell your friends and family about your attempt at a lifestyle change!
- Join a local community and participate in outreach events that care about the environment.
- Share articles like this one on social media.
- Start your own local or online group.
- Stay well-informed on environmental issues.