In the exciting world of waste reduction, July is known as Plastic Free July. It’s not a catchy title, but the premise is to see how much you can reduce your use of single use plastic during July. Whilst there are some truly amazing Zero Wasters out there, whose waste for the whole year will fit into matchbox, for most of us, cutting down our plastic use can feel quite terrifying. Here are 4, maybe 5, easy fixes that reduce your plastic waste.
1. Water bottles. In 2015, the UK population consumed 2,141 million litres of bottled water, an increase of 40% since 2008. Most bottles end up in landfill or downcycled to low grade plastic. Taking a reusable water bottle out with you and refilling it from the tap would save thousands of bottles of water ending up in landfill (if you don’t like tap water, get a filter jug and put it in the fridge and fill you bottle from there);
2. Coffee cups. How often do you get take out coffee? Once a week? Twice a week? 52 – 104 coffee cups a year that end up in landfill. Most are plastic coated, with plastic lids. Carrying a reusable coffee cup in your bag is easy. Choose a size that suits the kind of coffee you drink. I’ve been doing this since April and have only had it refused once (by a silly lady in a Costa concession, who said that it needed to be one of their’s!!). I love my reusable cup and can feel suitably smug, walking down the street sipping on it! We have some awesome bamboo ones available here
3. Straws. How many of us think about what happens to our straws. Drinks in the pub, take away soda from the fast food joint, iced coffee, we probably throw away hundreds of non-recyclable straws. Solution? Stainless steel straws – easy to carry in your bag, easy to wash and reuse. I’ve gone one step further and got a reusable soda cup and straw.
4. Produce bags. How often do you have to get those flimsy, polythene bags in supermarkets to put your loose fruit, veg, pastries etc in. These thin, translucent bags often end up in our oceans and get swallowed by sealife. There are a number of options for providing your own. A nappy net makes a good produce bag, a reusable cotton shopping bag, a string bag or a specially purchased reusable produce bag.
So there you have it, the BIG FOUR, as they are known in Zero Waste circles. Any of them take your fancy?
(The fifth is of course cloth nappies – did you know that a cup of crude oil goes into creating the plastic and absorbent gel in every single disposable nappy? Swapping to cloth, especially if you go 2 parts so only changing the plastic (PUL) part of your nappies a couple of times a day, can seriously reduce your plastic consumption!)