So you want to cut down on plastic. That’s great news! But where do you start? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of plastic around us or the changes you would have to make to cut out or cut down on single-use plastics.
Don’t worry. Try and take it one step at a time and here are 5 easy(ish) things you can change to minimise those single-use plastics:
1. Pack your reusable bottle/cup
Whether it’s water, coffee or tea, carry a reusable bottle and/or cup. If you’re like me, it’s best to pack it in your bag the night before, so it’s one less thing to stress about in a busy morning before work and/or the school run. When you bear in mind that it takes 450 years for the average plastic bottle to break down, there’s a pretty big motivation for us all to try and make this change.
2. Take your own bags with you
Canvas, paper or ‘bag for life’, pop some bags in your car, pocket or handbag so that you are never caught without. I’ve got a stock of brown paper bags and compostable bags (food caddy liners etc) for emergencies. And when you’re ready to step this up a notch, take your own containers to the butcher, deli counter etc. The amount of plastic bags that make it into our seas is quite frightening and there are horrendous images of whales’ and turtles bellies filled with them, so please try and avoid them. If you do have them – use it and re-use. Just try not to let it blow away.
3. Say no to straws, lids and other plastic un-necessaries
It’s hard to think of too many occasions when a straw is truly necessary. Say no to straws! Ideally, do it before you’ve been offered one – many food chains and cafes will pop one in your drink before you’ve had a chance to say no. The same applies to plastic lids on drinks, disposable cutlery and more. Again, you could pop any reusable replacement cutlery you might need into your bag the night before…
4. Choose non-plastic packaged alternatives
This sounds obvious, but sometimes there is a non-plastic packed alternative that you may not have considered; this might include loose fruit and veg instead of pre-packed, a different pasta brand, washing powder instead of liquid or tabs in a plastic pot and much more. So, keep your eyes peeled and try to go for these options where you can. If you order online, why not create a plastic-free shopping list to make it even easier to make these choices again in the future?
5. Don’t cling on…
Plastic wrap or cling film is so rarely recyclable, but the good news is that there are tons of alternatives. Having bought a roll of cling film last Spring, (before we started trying to cut down on plastic), it’s still there in our drawer. Instead, we tend to put food in Tupperware, go with the old-fashioned solution of a plate or saucepan lid resting on a bowl or reusable beeswax cloth wraps like these. You can make your own, but I haven’t managed that one yet…
What about you? What do you think are the easiest and yet most meaningful changes? If you have other thoughts / ideas, please do add them in the comments below!