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Ten easy swaps for everyday plastic items

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Author: Lois Kingscott, Posted: Wednesday, 13th June 2018, 16:40

Our suggestions of ten easy swaps for everyday plastic items. Our suggestions of ten easy swaps for everyday plastic items.

If you haven’t heard about the plastic crisis, you must have been living under a rock. In the latter part of 2017 and for the duration of 2018, the news has been full of stories about plastic choking our oceans, and that if we don’t act now, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. But what can we do to help? Below are some simple swaps for everyday items, as well as some advice and recommendations on how you can do your bit to stop plastic pollution.

1. Plastic straws
Billions of plastic straws are thrown away every year, with many making their way into the sea and harming marine wildlife. There have been many images and videos shared of sea turtles having straws removed from their noses – surely this is enough to encourage you to ditch plastic straws or find an alternative.

Paper, metal, bamboo and pasta (yes, that’s right!) are just some of the materials being used to produce alternatives to plastic that either break down much easier, or are reusable. There are lots of places you can purchase these straws – just do a quick Google search.

When you’re out and about, ask for your drink without a straw, and ask your local cafés, bars and restaurants to look into alternatives.

2. Make-up wipes
If you wear make-up every day and use wipes to remove it, you’re sending 365 plastic wipes to landfill every year. A simple alternative is to use a face cleanser and muslin cloth. I’ve been using Superdrug’s Naturally Radiant Hot Cloth Face Cleanser for the last three weeks and not only does my skin feel great, but I feel great knowing that I’m throwing away one less piece of waste every day.

3. Soap
Swap your bottles of soap for bars that come packaged in either paper or cardboard. Wild Sage & Co have a lovely variety on their website that are 100% vegan and produced just up the road in Herefordshire.

4. Shampoo/conditioner
A bar of soap is a relatively normal concept, but what about shampoo? To save you recycling a plastic bottle every couple of weeks, why not try shampoo bars? Use it in a similar way to soap – wet your hair under the shower, run the bar over the top of your scalp, lather up and rinse. Simple! Friendly Soap sell a variety of bathroom essentials and their packaging is 100% plastic free.

5. Drinks bottles
Plastic bottles take approximately 450 years to biodegrade, and with an estimated one million bottles being bought around the world every minute, it seems we’re fighting a losing battle. To reduce your part in this statistic, you could purchase a reusable drinks bottle. Many companies sell bottles that keep cold drinks cool and hot drinks warm within one product, so you can use it all year round. Check out Chilly’s bottles for a range of styles, or have a go at creating your own design.

6. Coffee cups
Many coffee companies and supermarkets offer discounts for bringing in your reusable cup for your hot beverage, and Boston Tea Party recently went cold turkey, ditching single-use takeaway cups entirely. If you can spare a few minutes to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee in your local café, do try, or simply take a reusable cup/bottle and save some of your hard-earned money.

7. Cling film
This plastic cannot be recycled, so is destined for landfill. Instead of wrapping your sandwiches in cling film, you could purchase ‘Bowl Overs’ or Tupperware, which can both be washed and re-used. Alternatively, why not try Beeswax Wraps, which are reusable and biodegradable. The Beeswax Wrap Co. sources its beeswax from a local beekeeper in the Cotswolds, and offers a variety of sizes and designs to cater for your needs.

8. Food bags
By now, you should be taking your ‘Bag for Life’ or canvas bags with you when you go shopping, but what about the plastic bags in which you put your loose fruit and veg? Reusable produce bags with drawstrings are growing in popularity and are light in weight so won’t affect the cost of your shopping. Make the most of these by visiting your local market instead of the big shops, as you’re more likely to find loose items than pre-packaged ones.

9. Wrapping paper
Christmas may only come once a year, but then there are birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries and more to think of. A lot of wrapping paper is not recyclable, as it either has glitter or a plastic film on it. The alternative? Reusable wrap. Eliminating the need for scissors and tape, it wraps neatly around gifts and can be used again and again. Check out Wrag Wrap’s Crackle Wrap – its design means you still get the ‘crackling’ sound you would have with normal wrapping paper, but it’s much better for the environment.

10. Sanitary towels and tampons
This last one is for the ladies, so the gents can skip this point! While menstrual cups are made of silicone, they are made to last for years, meaning you can seriously reduce the waste you produce as well as saving money. The eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads is also being used to provide sanitary solutions to girls and women in third world countries. Take a look around Mooncup’s website for more information including how to use the cups.

Remember, there are lots of options for all of the above products – you don’t just have to use the ones we’ve referenced. Do your research and choose to buy from companies that you’re happy to support, trying to shop as close to home as possible in order to support local businesses, as well as reducing postage and packaging.

What else can you do to help?
Reducing your personal plastic consumption is the best way to fight the plastic battle, but it is just as important to let other people know how they can get involved. Sharing the swaps above with your friends and family will ensure more people are making sustainable changes to their plastic consumption. Many people still don’t realise the significant impact plastic has on our environment and wildlife, so sharing these facts and photos should help to educate them.

Social Media
There are so many pages and people you could follow on social media for inspiration on how to live a life with less plastic. Our three recommendations are:

• Zanna Van Dijk – A health, fitness and lifestyle blogger with a passion for our planet, Zanna regularly shares tips and tricks for reducing plastic, and generally living a more environmentally-friendly life.

• #2minutebeachclean – Social Media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) dedicated to cleaning litter from our beaches and raising awareness of the plastic problem.

• A Plastic Planet – Another Social Media presence (Twitter and Instagram) sharing stories, campaigns and advice on how to reduce plastic consumption.

Book Recommendations
Finally, we have two book recommendations which contain much more information about cutting plastic from your life.

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey (Foreword by Chris Packham)
How to Live Plastic Free by the Marine Conservation Society

Other Images

A video of a sea turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nose went viral a couple of years ago. Sadly, this is a common occurrence.
The contents of a beached whale’s stomach – more than 30 plastic bags
Beaches are littered with plastic that is washed up on the shore, as well as that which is left by visitors.

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