How to use less plastic

How to use less plastic

Plastic waste and its damaging effect on our natural world has been big news recently. Here's what you can you do about it.

Plastic poses such a huge threat to wildlife because it doesn’t just disappear; it simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Aside from the dangers of becoming trapped or injured, animals often ingest plastic fragments - with the potential to build up in the bodies of animals right up the food chain: from microscopic animals right up to large predators, including us!

You may already bring your own shopping bags and coffee cups, but there are plenty more small changes you can make to reduce your plastic footprint

Plastic bottle illustration

While recycling plastic is often hailed as a solution, it is estimated that only 9% of plastics ever manufactured have actually been recycled! Not everything you put in your recycling bin will get recycled either. The limited demand for products made from recycled plastic means that a large proportion of plastic sent to be recycled actually winds up getting burned or sent to landfill.

Carrot illustration

The good news is we can all do our bit to cut down on unnecessary plastic! Once you start looking, you might be surprised at just how much plastic is woven into our daily and weekly routines. You may already bring your own shopping bags, coffee cups and reusable bottles, but there are plenty more small changes you can make to shrink your plastic footprint!

Top tips to reduce your plastic use:

In the bathroom

Toothbrushes

bamboo toothbrush illustration

Chances are, you brush your teeth with plastic. Bamboo toothbrushes made from sustainable bamboo are an easy way to ditch the excess plastic. While the wooden handle is fully compostable (or upcyclable!), the plastic bristles will have to go in the bin, but fear not - they weigh practically nothing so they are far less wasteful than a conventional plastic toothbrush!

Prefer the electric experience? If you use branded replacement heads, check with the manufacturer - they may accept them back for recycling, and if they don’t, write to them!

In the shower

Exfoliating shower puffs might be a popular scrubbing tool, but they’re made of plastic. Specialist advice is to not use them at all, but if you must, to replace them every 3-4 weeks because of the nasty bacteria that can build up on the netting - that adds up to a lot of plastic waste! There are alternatives made from natural materials, but maybe it’s best to ditch them altogether.

Keep an eye out for unpackaged bar soap and ditch the shower gel. Kept out of any water stream, they last a really long time! You can also get shampoo and conditioner in this form.

Clean shaving

Cleaning

In the kitchen

Storing food

Washing up

Sponge illustration

Some brands of washing up liquid allow you to refill your bottles once you run out, so it’s worth investigating your options and seeing if this is available to you. Kitchen sponges and scourers are usually made of plastic too. There are biodegradable options available made from natural materials, but, simply investing in a brush can make your sponges last far, far longer.

DIY

Out and about

Do a little preparation

Food shopping

Take-away

Take away illustration

Sneaky plastics

Synthetic fabrics

Washing illustration

Vehicle tyres

Teabags

Teapot illustration

We Brits love a good brew, but you may be surprised to hear that many teabags have plastic woven into the fibres, or are sealed with a plastic based glue (something to be mindful of when composting!). Following public pressure, a few companies have committed to eliminating plastic from their teabags, and a quick internet search will show you which brands are plastic-free.

Alternatively, buying loose tea can eliminate plastic packaging entirely – just be aware that many sold in cardboard boxes will be sealed in plastic inside the box to maintain freshness.