Why and how can you reduce your plastic use?

We use an estimated 8.5 billion straws in the UK every year, and they are among the top 10 items found during beach clean-ups, according to the BBC. 

You may have noticed recently that your local cafe has stopped handing out plastic straws and have started using paper instead. All 900 JD Wetherspoon pubs stopped using plastic straws at the start of the year, and Waitrose supermarkets have pledged to take plasic straws off their shelves by September.

 

But why?

Items such as straws are made up of plastics that can take hundreds of years to decompose, despite us only using them for such a short amount of time.

Every year 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced and around 40% of that is single-use plastic, meaning it’s only going to be used once before we throw it away. Single-use plastics include water bottles, crisp packets and carrier bags.

It’s estimated that by the year 2050, the weight of plastic contained in the ocean will be heavier than the weight of all of the fish contained in the planet’s oceans.

 

So, what can you do?

The most popular and obvious way to help out this plastic crisis is to recycle as often as you can! You can easily check the back of any packaging you want to throw away to see if it can be recycled. More often than not, plastic bottles, food containers, cans, glass jars and paper that you use every single day will be able to be recycled.

More recently, one of the most popular solutions to the plastic crisis has been to stop using single-use plastics. This means choosing not to drink your drink with a straw, or instead replacing any plastic straws you may use with reusable metal ones, or more easily recycled paper ones.

Instead of buying a water bottle to drink out of throw away immediately afterwards, invest in a reusable plastic water bottle and fill it up yourself each day. Not only is this good for the environment, but it will also save you a lot of money!

Re-use your shopping bags too. If you have some spare change, purchase a bag for life for less than 20p, and reuse it any time you go to the supermarket.

Another big problem is with the use of cotton pads or makeup remover wipes. These again are single use, and are often not recycled. Instead of using these to cleanse your face or wipe away any makeup, you can actually instead use reusable cotton pads. You can find washable cleansing pads online, or there is a handy do-it-yourself article here where you can make your own reusable cotton makeup remover pads.

 

Find out more:

You can find lots of alternatives to your single use plastics by looking online. Here are some more helpful articles on the changes you can make:

https://www.aquarium.co.za/blog/entry/our-favourite-alternatives-to-disposable-plastic-items

http://home.bt.com/news/science-news/the-uk-is-ditching-single-use-plastics-meet-the-firms-providing-alternatives-11364250462710