10 Tips on Going Plastic-Free
July marks plastic free month, and what better way to step up to the challenge than getting our top tips on going plastic free.
Led by the Plastic Free Foundation based in Australia, Plastic Free July is a global campaign to refuse single-use plastics.
As well as providing tips on going plastic free, they also provide educational material for more people to become aware of the impact of plastic.
So far, Plastic Free July has inspired over 120 million participants in 177 countries.
Since David Attenborough’s Blue Planet documentary, the fight against plastic pollution makes news headlines every week.
Thanks in part to the documentary, there has been worldwide action on tackling our consumption of single-use plastic.
In 2018, it was reported that 90.5 percent of plastic waste we’ve created has never been recycled.
Furthermore, it’s estimated that approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans every day.
The fight against saving our planet has never been at such a critical level. If you’re up for taking the challenge this July, follow our simple tips on going plastic free.
1.Ditch Plastic Bottles
Stop spending money on bottles of water and carry a reusable water bottle.
A study by Surfers Against Sewage found that over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of UK beaches.
As a single-use plastic, plastic water bottles are one of the biggest culprits in plastic pollution.
This year, Glastonbury music festival banned the use of plastic bottles and instead offered refill stations to festival goers.
Refill stations are becoming a common occurrence across the UK. You can now find water fountains in many public spaces and national parks.
While it may seem like one of the simple tips for going plastic-free, ditching plastic bottles can make a dramatic impact on your plastic footprint.
As reported by The Guardian, in the UK, 38.5 million plastic bottles are used every day, but just over half make it to recycling.
2.Bring Reusable Coffee Cups
You may love a coffee, but by using a reusable coffee cup for your daily fix you can help reduce plastic pollution.
In the UK, we use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day. That’s 2.5 billion every year.
While coffee retailers actively promote the fact their coffee cups can be recycled, less than 1 percent of cups enter recycling.
As coffee cups are lined with plastic, and also contain the remnants of your morning coffee, the cups have to recycled at specialist recycling plants. However, only three of these specialist recycling plants exist in the UK.
Many coffee shops now encourage you to bring your own reusable cups with a money off incentive.
Which means using your own coffee cup not only helps you go plastic free, but also helps you save a little money.
3.Avoid Black Plastic
From ready-meals and takeaways to your favourite beauty brands, do your best to avoid black plastic.
Black plastic is one of the most problematic plastics as much of it is unable to be recycled.
The dye that creates black plastic is called carbon black. However, this material cannot be detected using current recycling technology. This means black plastic ends up in landfill or incinerated.
Many big name brands that currently use black plastic have begun to source their own independent recycling plants. For example, the beauty brand Lush recycle their own black plastic products.
However, across the UK, black plastic still struggles to be recycled in an environmentally friendly manner.
If you have to use plastic, choose a clear plastic, as this is widely recycled. This is certainly one of those tips about going plastic-free that many people are unaware of.
4.Choose Naked Toiletries
While many of your bathroom toiletries may say they can be recycled, it all depends on your local council.
A report by the BBC revealed that there are 39 different sets of rules across the UK for what items of plastic can be recycled.
In the review, it found some local councils will collect lots of different types of plastic, but two councils collect none at all.
With this in mind, going plastic-free can help to eliminate the confusion about what can and cannot be recycled.
A simple tip for going plastic-free in your bathroom is to swap from traditional plastic bottled toiletries to ‘naked’ products.
Soaps and shampoo bars are leading the way with this plastic-free swap.
5.Use Natural Cloths
Clean your home with natural cloths and fabrics rather than plastic.
If you use plastic scrubbing pads or other synthetic dishcloths, these can release tiny microfibres of plastic into our water system.
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that pollute the environment. They are not a specific type of plastic, but simply fragments less than 5mm in length.
Studies show that microplastic pollution spans the entire world, with microplastics found in UK lakes and rivers, groundwater in the USA and on the coast of Spain.
Whether you’re washing up with plastic kitchen sponges or using a synthetic cloth to do your dusting, it’s time to stop.
Using a natural alternative such as coconut scrubbing pads or cotton cloths can help you make your household chores plastic free.
6.Try the Local Market
Single-use plastic covers most of the food you buy from a supermarket.
From fruit and veg to raw meat and baked goods. This plastic is not necessary, and in many cases, it cannot always be recycled.
Many supermarkets have already begun to take action on their use of plastic.
Morrisons now provide plastic-free loose fruit and veg, as well as letting you bring your own container for raw meat from the butchers.
Waitrose is also currently trialing plastic-free stores, in a bid to see if the concept could work across all their UK stores.
If you’re serious about going plastic-free this July, you should look to choose food produce that isn’t covered in plastic.
You can do this by making a conscious effort when you visit the supermarket or try your local farmers market.
In the UK a third of plastic packaging is for consumer products. Under the Government’s Plastic Pact, more than 40 supermarkets have agreed to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging by 2025.
If you enjoy your favourite drink with a straw, July is the time to find a plastic-free alternative.
In a report by Greenwatch, there is currently 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic in the world, with plastic straws creating 7 percent of this pollution.
They may seem harmless, but plastic straws are so damaging to the environment, the UK government is planning on banning the sales of plastic straws as part of their 25-year environment plan.
In the UK we use 8.5 billion plastic straws per year, this equates to 130 straws per person.
Rather than use a plastic straw, ask for a paper straw, or invest in your own stainless steel straws.
8.Recycle or Reuse
Going plastic-free isn’t just about removing plastic from your life altogether. Plastic is a highly useful substance.
The problem plastic pollution is tackling, is single-use plastics which only serve one purpose.
Make a conscious effort to get to know the plastics you can and cannot recycle.
Only by becoming more educated on plastic can you then learn to recycle appropriately in your area, or reuse a plastic which cannot be recycled.
This plastic free tip does take more education than action, but by knowing more about plastic you can make more conscious choices.
9.Ban Cling film from Your Cupboard
Plastic cling film cannot be recycled in most UK collections, therefore it’s time to ban it from your kitchen cupboard.
At present, 1.2 billion metres of cling film is used in the UK, enough to go around the world 30 times over.
Instead of cling film, there are now many plastic-free alternatives you can choose.
Foil is recyclable, or you can opt to use beeswax wraps which are completely biodegradable.
As a common food lifesaver in the kitchen, it’s easy to opt for cling film when looking to reduce food waste. However, the majority of cling film ends up in landfill, taking hundreds of years to degrade.
During July, make part of your plastic-free mission to ban the cling film.
10.Be Storage Savvy
Plastic Tupperware has its place, but when you look to purchase new storage solutions try to opt for plastic alternatives.
Glass jars are great for food storage, and tin lunch boxes not only last a lifetime but keep your sandwiches super fresh.
As mentioned previously, it’s not about banning plastic completely, but reducing the plastic we use.
From bamboo, wood, and glass, there are now many environmentally friendly storage solutions for every possible lifestyle need.
Learning to make a conscious decision about the plastic you use, is part of the challenge when going plastic free.
By being savvy about storage solutions in your home, you can reduce your plastic impact.