6 Easy Ways to Use Less Plastic
Thanks, in part, to David Attenborough, we’re all trying to use less plastic. The evidence of plastic pollution is clear: it’s thought that 90% of seabirds now have plastic in their guts and, if nothing changes, the UN predicts that plastic will outweigh fish in our seas by 2050. While recycling can help (don’t make these common recycling mistakes) it’s far better to avoid plastic altogether where possible. A few simple substitutions can make a huge difference — particularly when it comes to single-use plastics. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite ways to cut back on plastic and make a more positive impact on the environment.
1. Use less plastic with a bamboo toothbrush
An easy way to use less plastic, biodegradable toothbrushes are increasingly easy to come by in supermarkets and health stores. Liz’s eldest daughter — Lily — favours Pearly White Club’s bamboo toothbrushes. Their handles are made from bamboo and their bristles from Nylon 6, a type of plastic which breaks down faster than lower-grade nylon. At the end of the toothbrush’s life, the bristles can be plucked out and thrown away, while the bamboo handle can be placed in your compost bin. As a bonus, for every subscription bought, Pearly White Club donate a toothbrush to a homeless charity.
2. Ditch plastic packed wet wipes
Not as effective or enjoyable as a cleanser and cloth, we would never recommend the use of wet wipes to clean skin at the end a long day. If you’re going shower-free at a festival or on a day out with kids, however, they can be a practical solution to stinky pits and sticky fingers. Sadly, wipes contribute to plastic pollution as they contain polyester. This means they don’t decompose like tissue — a huge problem if they are flushed down the loo as, when mixed with discarded cooking oil, they form giant ‘fatbergs’, causing 93% of all sewage blockages. When plastic packed wet wipes do eventually break down, the plastic remnants are often consumed by marine life. If you can’t bear to be without them but would like to use less plastic, we recommend Beauty Kitchen’s Wish-a-Wash wet wipes. They’re kind to skin, fragrance-free and fully compostable. Beauty Kitchen also uses pre-cycled, recycled, or recyclable packaging for all their products which we can add to the household recycling when we’re done.
3. Skip single-use plastic water bottles
Single-use plastic bottles are perhaps the biggest scourge of the seas. An unimaginable 13 billion plastic bottles are used every year in the UK, of which nearly half are sent to landfill, incinerated, or carelessly littered. As we’re fortunate enough to live in a part of the world with abundant clean water in our homes and workplaces, the simplest solution is to stop buying bottled water – using a filter if you prefer a fresher taste. Klean Kanteen makes amazingly resilient reusable bottles in a whole range of gorgeous colours – a simple and stylish way to use less plastic. We love their Insulated Classic bottle, which keeps water cold for up to 50 hours. We can vouch that it’s also great for hot drinks, so there’s no excuse for adding to the 2.5 billion coffee cups thrown away every year in the UK.
4. Invest in reusable vegetable bags
Nearly all of us have the bag – the one that’s lurking in the corner of every kitchen, perhaps hung on the back of a door. The bag we fill up with other plastic bags from each shopping trip and then forget to take with us on our next supermarket visit. Carrinet Veggio bags are a great substitution for the flimsy single-use plastic veg bags found in supermarkets. The bags are made of a BPA-free polyester mesh, so vegetables can be washed through the bags (they can even be used as laundry bags for your underwear!). Just think, using three single-use veg bags on every weekly shop would mean throwing away over 150 a year!
5. Enjoy a plastic-free cuppa
Sorry, but not even tea is sacred! While many of us throw teabags onto the compost heap without a second thought, we could actually be doing more harm than good. Sadly, on top of their packaging, many mainstream tea brands like Tetley and Yorkshire Tea use plastic to seal some of their products. Pukka have developed plastic-free teabags and have recently launched plastic-free envelopes so that the packaging is totally recyclable too. Ethical tea brand We Are Tea also have a great range of flavours, both as loose leaf and in bags, which are fully biodegradable. They are currently working on fully recyclable packaging.
6. Use less plastic with a packed lunch
Making your own packed lunch is another great way to save on the excessive packaging of meal deals and take-away drinks. TheVeganKind sell fully-compostable paper sandwich bags and dishwasher-safe, reusable bamboo straws which may be useful in light of the forthcoming government plan to ban plastic straws.