Plastic. It’s a problem. Once it’s out there, it’s not going anywhere for hundreds and hundreds of years. The oceans are full of it, it’s hurting the animals, and David Attenborough is very cross with us.
So, what can we do about it?
Well, we definitely need to clean up the plastic that’s already out there. That’s a given. But we should also be discouraging companies from creating more plastic. How can we do that? By voting with our feet. Refusing to buy and/or use plastic sends a clear message that unnecessary plastic is no longer welcome.
Easier said than done in many cases! But, although you’re unlikely to be able to go totally plastic-free overnight, here are some simple ways you can make a start.
Bring your own shopping bags
Eco-friendly and it’ll save you 5p. Despite government efforts to crack down on single-use plastic shopping bags, they’re still pretty much everywhere. To avoid being part of this problem, bring your own (reusable) bag with you when you nip to the shops. As a bonus, reusable bags don’t cut into your hands like overloaded single-use bags do.
Supermarkets are slowly wising up to the anti-plastic thing, but it’s taking them a while. Packaging is still a big issue. If you can, buy your groceries loose, or in cardboard boxes, or in paper bags rather than getting the plastic-wrapped stuff. Basically, if there’s an alternative to plastic, go for it.
Invest in a reusable water bottle
Disposable water bottles are something we really do not need in this day and age. Buy your own bottle (made from sustainable materials!) and fill it from the tap before you go out. For some great suggestions on where to shop, check out our article on Reusable water bottles.
Your ability to do this probably depends a lot on where you live but, if you can, get refills of products rather than buying a new packet/bottle. Some shops are introducing things like detergent vending machines, which dispense detergent from a tap. If this kind of thing becomes popular it could eliminate a ton of plastic packaging at a stroke – so let’s hope to see more of it in the near future.
OK, technically this one isn’t about reducing your own plastic use. But it’s still a good thing to do. Picking up discarded plastic when you see it can save wildlife from a horrible death-by-plastic. There may even be organised beach-cleans and plastic-picks in your local area that you can join or help out with. If you can recycle that plastic when you get home, all the better!
Obviously this is just scratching the surface. However, you’ll probably find that once you start making a conscious effort to reduce your personal plastic footprint, other methods of cutting down will start leaping out at you. Don’t worry – it’s quite easy to massively shrink your plastic footprint without even really noticing it. Good luck, and have fun trying out all the great plastic alternatives there are out there.