6 Ways to Reduce the Amount of Plastic You're Using

After seeing lots of information on the damage that plastic is doing to our environment, particularly our oceans, I have decided to try and reduce the amount of plastic that i buy and consume drastically. After doing lots of research about alternatives to plastic items, I have decided to embark on this challenge. 

When you put plastic into landfill you think that it goes 'away' but it doesn't. A large amount of plastic ends up in the sea, sometimes in big chunks but sometimes the plastic breaks up into small pieces. Fish often think that those pieces are plankton and other small foods because they obviously don't know what plastic is and the harm that it could have on them. They end up eating the plastic which contains lots of toxins and sharp pieces and can kill the fish. Larger fish will eat plastic too and the plastic filled fish and so on. If you too eat fish there's a good chance you too are probably eating a fish that has eaten plastic and is riddled with the toxins from it. I highly recommend A Plastic Ocean on Netflix if you want to know more information about plastic in the sea.  Plastic doesn't biodegrade as quickly as other materials with some taking thousands of years. It also contains a lot of oil which, as we all know, is a finite resource.

If together we reduce the demand for plastic, maybe big companies will find more sustainable ways to package their products. Plastic bags are an example that this works. Whilst here in the UK plastic bags are not banned, we have to pay for them which encourages people to bring their own bags or at least re-use them. Many cafés are now banning single use coffee cups or offering a discount if you bring your own. Clearly, the plastic free/zero waste community are having an impact and you can too!

Because of this, I want to reduce the amount of plastic that I use and find more sustainable ways to live. I will put it out there now that it is so hard. It's not until you set yourself this challenge that you realise how much plastic there is in your life and how it is absolutely everywhere. I am by no means living a plastic free life...yet.  But here are 10 tips to get you started.

1. You Don't Have to Give it All Up at Once! Similar to what I said in my recent cruelty free beauty post you don't need to throw out every plastic item you own out to begin a plastic free life because who can afford to do that? If you can, good for you but for most of us this is not feasible. Instead, use up any products in plastic containers and find plastic free alternatives after this. For example, I was just using up my Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner which is not cruelty free and comes in plastic bottles. I have replaced them with Lush Shampoo and Conditioner bars which don't come in plastic and don't test on animals.

2. Refuse Disposable Plastics. When you are out and going for a drink , ask them to not give you a straw. If you think about it, you don't really need a straw, you are quite capable of drinking without one. However, sometimes a straw is nice and if you do still really want one, why not by a metal or bamboo straw which you can reuse over and over again. Refuse plastic cutlery and containers and instead take your own if you're going to have take out food. When in supermarkets/greengrocers, use cloth bags to store veg instead of single use plastic bags.

3. Recycle. If you have to buy something that is in plastic at least try and make sure it is plastic that can be recycled and actually make an effort to recycle it. The energy it takes to recycle plastic is huge meaning that yes you are recycling the plastic which is better than landfill but the vast amount of energy has different environmental effects. But recycling plastic is better than going in landfill.

4. Reuse. Purchase products that can be re-used and will deter you from buying single use plastics. For example, a re-usable water bottle will prevent you from buying endless amounts of disposable plastic bottles. I have a Brita filter water bottle which, yes is made out of plastic, but I am going to use it over and over. You can also get metal water bottles that keep your water super cool! Get reusable coffee cups, bags etc. too!

5. Ditch the Disposable Sanitary Towels and Tampons. I am still yet to make this change but I am going to purchase a menstrual cup which are supposed to last for about 20 years! Standard sanitary towels and tampons are full of plastic, bleach and other chemicals that to be honest I don't want near my lady garden. Reusable pads and menstrual cups are the way to go. They are made of more natural materials and menstrual cups cannot cause Toxic Shock Syndrome so are totally safe. Not to mention the ££££ you will save.

6. Shop in Plastic Free Shops/Bulk Buy. There are plastic free shops and health stores where you can bulk buy your food and household products. Often you can take containers and fill them up and pay for the amount that you get. For example,  at Preserve in Bristol you can take your reusbale containers and fill them with nuts, rice, seeds and even cereal! You can also fill up tubs with washing up liquid, shampoo and household cleaners. This allows you to avoid buying things in plastic packaging.

As I have said, I am still a beginner in this so I will learn more tips and tricks as I go. Don't be hard on yourself if you find yourself still buying plastic. It's ok, nobody is perfect. Making small gradual changes is a whole lot better than doing nothing at all. Keep going on your reduced plastic adventure!

What are your plastic free tips and tricks?

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