Plastic can be necessary. In medicine, in engineering, in a million little ways you don’t even think about. That’s not the problem – it’s plastic waste that’s putting the earth in jeopardy. Europe produces 58 million tonnes of plastic every year, 25 million of which ends up as waste with 50% of marine litter being made up of single use plastic. Something’s got to give, and it shouldn’t be the planet.
The stats can feel overwhelming, which is why small changes are so important – from governments and corporations all the way down to you and me. Collectively, we can make a huge amount of difference. If you’re stuck on where to start, we’ve put together a handy guide to cutting back on the single use plastics in your life. These will not only help the planet but also save you money in the long-term – it’s a total win win.
Don’t bottle it
Or do! Just make sure it’s reusable. Recently, several big businesses (Pret, Starbucks, Wetherspoons to name a few) and many more small ones signed up with Refill. This incredible, sustainable initiative offers you a place to fill up your water bottle – no questions asked. Let’s break it down. A 100ml bottle of Evian costs 65p at Tesco, it travels 1050 miles from its source to get London and the plastic will take 450 years to decompose. A reusable bottle will last forever (misadventure notwithstanding), the UK has some of the best quality tap water in the world and its totally free.
Think inside the box
A real champion of sustainability, the humble reusable box has so many uses. Sure, you can use it for your packed lunches (batch cooking for the win) or for storing things in the fridge, but you can also take it to the butcher, the fishmonger, the deli counter and ask them to use that instead of single-use plastic. Just pop the price label on the lid and that’s two less plastic bags used. If you’re going camping or on a road trip, they tend to be more leak-proof (no one likes a secret spill) and handy dividers keep things separate.
Bag it up
The nifty thing about fruit and veg is that it grows its own packaging. Oranges have peel, avocados have skin, nuts have shells. Adding an extra layer of plastic is totally unnecessary – nature has already perfected their design. You can’t stop supermarkets wrapping things in plastic and styrofoam, but you can bring your own reusable bags to shops and pick from the loose fruit and veg. Your actions as a consumer can cause ripple that makes waves and eventually changes what’s “normal”.
Fix up, look sharp
Microbeads may have been banned in the UK but there are other ways you can make your grooming more eco-friendly. Think about how often you buy shampoo, shower gel or shaving foam – all of which come in plastic bottles or bottles with plastic components. Shampoo bars made by companies like Friendly last just as long (or longer) than normal shampoo. They also tend to be made from natural ingredients and don’t use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, a toxic chemical that is bad for both you and the environment. Razors with replaceable blades like Blue Beard are another cost-effective way to cause less waste too – you’ll never have to buy another disposable Bic ever again.
The final straw
You may have seen headlines about this particular offender in the press and online recently. That is because the UK Government’s new controls to limit ocean pollution will affect plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers and plastic cotton buds in England from April 2020. Considering that in the UK alone we use 8.5 billion per year (a staggering 130 plastic straws for per person), this measure has been a long time coming. If you prefer to drink from a straw, or need one for any reason, there are metal or bamboo alternatives you can take out with you. Either that or convince your local to make the switch to a biodegradable option.
Looking for more green-living tips and facts about the environment? Follow us on Instagram at @sholeuk for updates and exciting news about our sustainable mission.