It’s estimated that, by 2050, there will be more plastic in our ocean than fish.
Grim, right? It’s no secret that plastic is damaging the planet, but if you need futher proof, let me point you in the direction of the documentary A Plastic Ocean, which is now available on Netflix and – I assure you – will make you really angry.
When plastic consumption’s concerned, it’s all too easy to think that changing your own habits isn’t going to make any difference. In reality, every little helps. We’re still living in a world where supermarkets sell vegetables on plastic trays, wrapped up in two layers of plastic, so ditching plastic altogether is no mean feat. Luckily, there are plenty of little lifestyle changes you can make in order to do your bit.
Ban bottled water from your life
Buying a reusable water bottle is one of the best things you’ll ever do, because not only are you doing your bit for the environment, you’re also saving yourself money in the long run. Those £1 bottles of Evian add up, right? And if you’re still buying bottled water to drink in the house, I’m giving you some serious side-eye because we’re lucky enough to live in a country where we can safely drink water straight from the tap, for free! However, if you really have a problem with tap water, invest in a filter jug already.
Carry your own reusable coffee cup
‘Paper’ takeaway coffee cups are lined with plastic, making them an environmental nightmare. Save the fuss by investing in your own flask and keeping it in your bag. It might seem alien to you if you’re very invested in your morning Pret run, but once you’ve carried it with you for a week, it’ll become second-nature – promise. When you pop into a coffee shop to get a hot drink to go, hand your flask over to the barista and enjoy your 9am latte guilt-free. PLUS loads of places actually give you a discount if you use your own reusable cup, win win right?
Ditch the 5p bags
Since the 5p mandatory plastic bag charges kicked in, it should have been enough of an incentive to ditch flimsy carriers altogether. Invest in a cute canvas tote, ball it up in your bag or stash it in the boot of your car so you have it to hand next time you hit up Tesco.
Embrace your local market
Fruit and veg is notoriously over-wrapped in plastic in most supermarkets – and even if you’re buying it loose, you’re obliged to bag it up in a little plastic carrier. Consider buying your fruit and veg from your local market instead and, obviously, bring your own non-plastic carrier to take it home in.
Stop using (plastic) straws
I’ve never understood people who drink with straws. Sure, they might stop you from smudging your lipstick or chinking your teeth against ice cubes but, still, are they really necessary? Probably not, so just pass on using one during your next Wetherspoons jaunt. If you’re an ardent devotee to straws and would be happy to stash one in your clutch bag, there are plenty of bamboo, glass or stainless steel alternatives out there.
Consider a menstrual cup
Sure, tampons and pads aren’t entirely made of plastic, but most contain plenty of synthetic materials, including plastics, and they all come packaged in plenty of plastic. While using a menstrual cup can freak out the more squeamish among us, plenty of women are beginning to be converted to this less wasteful option. As well as having environmental benefits, they boast economic benefits – think of how much you’ll save by not having to do an emergency Boots run every month.
Rethink your approach to oral hygiene
Sure, toothbrushes aren’t single-use, per se, but once you’ve had yours for a few weeks, you’re going to have to chuck it out. Try a bamboo toothbrush instead. For extra brownie points, look out for toothpaste packaged in metal tubes, or even glass jars, to minimise your plastic waste to the max.
Opt for plastic-free lunches
Beeswax-coated cotton has been used for centuries to preserve food, but it’s woefully overlooked in lieu of (literally) rubbish single-use plastic options. BeeBee Wraps creates beautifully patterned reusable food wraps in different sizes – get a large one for your sandwiches and a little one to keep half-eaten bars of chocolate tasting fresh.