Simple ways to reduce your plastic waste

6 July 2021
plastic waste

Plastic waste is a huge issue which is polluting our oceans and rotting away in our landfills. So what can we do as individuals to reduce our plastic waste and lessen our impact on the environment? In this blog we will give you easy ways that you can reduce your plastic waste and live more sustainably! You will notice that some of these tips save you money too!

Why is plastic waste bad for the environment?

Firstly it is important to recognise exactly why plastic waste is bad for the environment. When plastic is buried in landfills, it releases harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, namely CO2 and methane which contribute to the process of global warming. Plastics also take a very long time to break down, with plastic bags in landfill taking 500-1000 years to decompose! So the plastic that you throw away will be around a lot longer than you are! Plastic also pollutes our oceans and waterways, which harms wildlife. Animals like fish will often consume plastic, mistaking it for food. For example, sea turtles sometimes consume plastic bags that they mistake for jellyfish. This can harm humans too, as a study in 2017 found that about a third of fish caught in the UK contained plastic that they had ingested. This included cod and haddock which we often consume, meaning we end up ingesting the harmful plastic toxins.

plastic waste

So as you can see, plastic waste causes harm not only to the environment, but also our wildlife and us as human beings. So it is important that we try to do our part to reduce plastic waste. Here are some simple ways you can do just that!

Ways to reduce your plastic waste

Buy reusable

This is probably one of the easiest changes you can make which will add up to a lot of plastic savings over time! Invest in a good reusable water bottle and remember to carry it wherever you go. This means you won’t need to buy plastic bottles when you are out and about. This Bellabeat Smart Water Bottle is a great investment as it is made from durable glass and is BPA free! It also syncs to an app and lets you set goals and track your hydration! And if you prefer the taste of bottled water over tap water, you should consider buying a water filter for your home.

If you are a fan of takeaway coffee or food, you can also reduce your plastic waste in this area. Simply take reusable containers and your own reusable coffee flask with you so that the you don’t need to take a coffee cup or plastic food packaging. Some coffee places even offer you a discount if you bring your own cup!

Another easy swap is buying a sturdy tote bag, instead of buying plastic bags. These will also be a lot more sturdy for carrying your shopping. Keep some of these in your car or on your door handle so you don’t forget them! And if you do need to buy a plastic bottle or bag, try to reuse these as many times as you can instead of just throwing them out.

plastic waste

Avoid microplastics

Microplastics are a also a big issue that are likely adding to your plastic waste without you even knowing it! Microplastics are often found in common items like clothing, sunscreen, face wash and cosmetics. When looking at ingredient lists, try to avoid items containing Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon (PA). You can research sustainable, microplastic-free products and make an effort to purchase ethical clothing made from sustainable materials. Acrylic, polyester, spandex and nylon should be avoided as these shed thousands of microfibers when you wash them. These end up polluting water ways and can pose a danger to wildlife. Avoiding synthetic fibres altogether can be difficult, but opting for natural fibres like organic cotton when you can is better. You can read our blog post on how to buy ethical and sustainable clothing here.

Buy in bulk

Buying non-perishable household items in bulk, such as toilet rolls, canned food and washing powder will also cut down your plastic waste. Buying bigger packs rather than buying smaller packs regularly usually equals less plastic waste, and this should save you money too! Making a conscious effort to buy food without wasteful packaging also makes a difference. Some brands will offer sustainable packaging, or you can simply buy loose fruit and veg instead of pre-packaged plastic packs. It is also better to buy food that is in paper/cardboard packaging if you can.

Make simple swaps

You can also make simple swaps to reduce your plastic waste. For example, using soap bars instead of shower gel and liquid soap. You can also get facial cleansers in bar form. These tend to last longer than gel forms and of course you are cutting out the plastic bottle waste! And bar products tend to use up a lot less plastic packaging, if any. Switching to loose leaf tea is another easy swap, as teabags often release microplastics into our environment. Or you can do some research into brands that offer plastic-free teabags, as thankfully this is becoming more commonplace.

Buy second hand or refurbished

Electronic waste (e-waste) is another big issue contributing to the plastic pollution problem. You can help reduce this by buying second-hand or refurbished electronics instead of brand new ones. Not only does this save you money, it also extends the lifecycle of the electronic and saves it from ending up in landfill. You can read our blog here where we discuss the pros and cons of buying refurbished electronics.

Spread awareness and sign petitions

You can help other people reduce their plastic waste by sharing your tips with them and being vocal about the issue on social media. You can also research organisations and find petitions that you can sign to urge action to be taken on plastic waste. The Sea Life Trust is one organisation which you can support that works to reduce plastic pollution and protect our oceans.

We hope that you have found these tips helpful and that you have found some easy ways to reduce your plastic waste! Let us know in the comments if you have any good tips to share! You can read more about how to lower your carbon footprint and live sustainably here.

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