22 EASY PLASTIC SWITCHES
We’ve put together a list of 22 simple things to swap which will drastically reduce the amount of plastic you use day-to-day. Find out more about the problems with plastic here.
1. REUSABLE BOTTLE
Getting a reusable bottle and drinking tap water where possible is one of the easiest ways to reduce plastic waste. Remembering to take it out with you each day is the hardest bit but once you do, the chances are you’ll start drinking more water. If tap water is safe to drink then asking for it in cafes and restaurants is perfectly acceptable too, after all you’re saving the planet by not wasting resources!
Where tap water isn’t safe to drink in some places abroad, refilling your bottle at water fountains is much better than buying plastic bottled water. Water fountain containers are reused when empty so this uses significantly less plastic than individual bottles in the long run. Buying water in glass bottles where available and recycling when finished is also a good practice as glass is far more recyclable than plastic.
2. REUSABLE CUP
Switching to a reusable cup for hot and cold takeaway beverages is a great way to cut waste drastically. Less than 1 in 400 disposable cups are currently recycled as the paper is bonded with plastic. Over 2.5 billion single-use cups are thrown away each year in the UK alone. Lots of places now offer discounts to those with reusable cups so you could also save money with a reusable cup!
3. SHOPPING & PRODUCE BAG
Lots of places have now phased out single-use plastic bags however plastic bag-for-life will still take hundreds of years to break down. Why not get yourself a shopping bag made of a more sustainable material?
You could also try produce bags for putting loose fruit, veg, baked goods and even loose cosmetic bars in instead of the single-use plastic or paper bags provided.
4. SUSTAINABLE FOOD STORAGE
Unrecyclable cling film could soon become a thing of the past. Reusable food bags and beeswax wraps are a brilliant alternative and there are also vegan alternatives available. Making more use of lunch boxes is also a great way to cut down on single-use waste for food storage.
5. REUSABLE FOOD UTENSILS
Sporks and reusable cutlery could be a big game changer in the world of on-the-go food waste. There’s lots of choice out there and many come in handy travel cases. If you know you eat food on-the-go often then getting yourself a spork or something similar is a great way of cutting down on plastic. Just remember to refuse the utensils provided before they’re given to you!
6. REUSABLE STRAWS
Whilst plastic straws are soon to be banned in the UK with biodegradable options as a replacement, reusable straws are the best option for the environment. Metal and glass straws are the best alternatives as these materials are more hardwearing and can be recycled endlessly. Bamboo straws are also much better than single-use straws over time. If you travel then remember lots of countries still use plastic straws so refusing the straw when you order a drink is still a good practice.
7. PLASTIC-FREE CHEWING GUM
Did you know that almost all chewing gum sold in shops contains plastic and can take hundreds of years to break down? Not only that but it isn't biodegradable so it will never fully disappear. Chewing gum is the world's second most common form of litter after cigarette butts, around 85% of it is not put in the bin! There are now plastic-free, biodegradable gum alternatives available.
8. PLASTIC-FREE ORAL CARE
Plastic-free oral care is becoming more and more available. Biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes are the easiest switch with many now available in high street shops. Other plastic switches include toothpaste which comes in jars, toothpaste and mouthwash in tablet form and plastic-free floss.
9. PLASTIC-FREE COSMETICS
All of those cosmetics which come in plastic containers or wrapping can now easily be switched to solid bars which come wrapped in paper or better yet, nothing at all if you buy them in certain shops. Reusable produce bags could easily be used to get your naked cosmetics instead of single-use paper bags.
10. PLASTIC-FREE SHAVING
Switching to plastic-free shaving is a really simple swap. Opting for reusable metal razors instead of disposable plastic ones is much better for the environment as these can be recycled when they come to the end of their life. The disposable ones are unlikely to be recycled so end up in landfill sites or worse. Shaving soaps or creams that come in paper packaging or metal tins are also much kinder to the planet than foams with plastic lids.
11. REUSABLE MAKEUP PADS
Cotton pads in unrecyclable plastic packaging could be phased out with reusable alternatives now available. Simply put them in your washing machine with your clothes and there you have an easy way to drastically cut down on single-use waste.
12. MENSTRUAL CUPS
Although made of plastic, menstrual cups can drastically reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste from tampons. Rinse them out and you’ll never need to buy tampons again!
13. REUSABLE KITCHEN TOWEL
Say goodbye to plastic-wrapped kitchen roll and make the switch to reusable kitchen towel. Not only will you be cutting down on plastic but unnecessary paper waste too. Simply put them in with your washing and reuse.
Tissues often come wrapped in unrecyclable plastic packaging. Switching to handkerchiefs can cut down your plastic and paper waste drastically.
15. REUSABLE COTTON SWAB
Although plastic-stem cotton buds are banned in the UK, most alternatives still come in plastic packaging. LastSwab are a Denmark-based company who have invented a reusable alternative. They've even created a design for makeup use. That's less plastic packaging and less unnecessary single-use paper and cotton waste!
16. BIODEGRADABLE GLITTER
Sadly even glitter is made up of harmful microplastics. There are now biodegradable, plastic-free options available so you can still sparkle with a clearer conscience!
17. PLASTIC-FREE TEA
Did you know that most tea bags contain plastic? If not you weren't the only one as most people put them in the food waste bin unknowingly. Sadly they don't belong here as they aren't biodegradable - another one for the landfill bin! Using loose tealeaves is a solution. If you only don't have the need for a whole teapot then there are reusable tea bags and tea strainers which can be used for making just one cup of tea.
18. PLASTIC-FREE TAPE
Plastic sticky tape is non-recyclable and so lots of plastic goes into landfill year upon year from parcels and presents. Thankfully there are plastic-free alternatives available which are recyclable or biodegradable.
19. ECO-CONSCIOUS PHONE CASE
Did you know 1.5 billion plastic phone cases are thrown away each year? The majority of these aren't recycled so end up in landfill or worse. There are some options out there for phone cases made of eco-conscious materials.
20. MICROPLASTICS WASH BAG
Did you know that a single clothes wash could release over 700,000 microplastic fibres from synthetic clothing?! A good majority of these end up polluting waterways and could enter the food chain. Whilst switching from synthetic to natural clothing might not be an easy swap, using a wash bag for your synthetic clothing is! These are specially designed to capture microplastics which can be emptied into the bin once the wash has finished.
21. HAIRBRUSHES, COMBS & HAIRBANDS
Next time you're in need of a new hairbrush, comb, or pack of hairbands then there are plastic-free alternatives available. Aside from being better for the environment they are also better for your scalp and less damaging to your hair!
22. DIGITAL COPIES
Another simple plastic switch is to opt for digital entertainment. Music, films, TV box sets and video games can all be purchased online and downloaded, eliminating the need for disks, plastic packaging and the plastic film they often come wrapped in.
There are plenty more plastic switches out there but this list should give you a good starting point. If you have any other ideas of ways to go plastic-free please get in contact to let us know!