News & Articles

How to reduce plastic waste at home

A staggering eight million tonnes of plastic finds its way into our planet’s oceans. This has a wide range of dangerous implications, including killing and maiming animals and marine life that eat or become ensnared in plastic waste. Most plastics aren’t biodegradable and can take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down. When plastics do begin to degrade, they will break down into dangerous microplastics which are harmful to marine life and can contaminate the food chain.

Single-use plastics are of particular concern to environmental scientists. The U.N. Environment reports just nine per cent of the world’s nine billion tonnes of plastic has been recycled, with the majority ending up in landfills, our oceans and waterways. We must now each take responsibility and be part of the solution, not part of the problem. There are many simple ways that families and individuals can cut down their use of single-use plastics and help reduce our collective plastic pollution.

1. Shop smart

Supermarkets tend to be filled with single-use plastics and it is all too easy to fall into the trap of buying food covered in lots of excess plastic packaging. Before heading out to the shop, be sure to take your own reusable bags – a plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to decompose! When doing your weekly food shop, try to buy loose foods without packaging or in bulk. Doing this will not only reduce your use of single use plastics but will also help to minimise your food waste.

Shopping at your local butchers, fishmongers or grocers is also a good way of cutting down on food packaging while supporting local business. Simply take along your own containers to avoid any excess wrapping.

2. Choose reusable options when on the go

The majority of takeaway coffee cups aren’t recyclable and an estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK alone. To avoid being a part of this problem, invest in a reusable coffee cup which can be washed after use. Most cafes are more than happy to fill up your own travel mug, with some even offering a discount for those who do. Alternatively, choose to stay in for your drink to avoid the wasteful takeaway cup.

Refusing plastic straws is also an important way of helping to minimise your plastic impact. If you’re someone who prefers to drink through a straw, consider buying one of the many reusable metal, silicone or bamboo options available. Keep your reusable straws handy when you’re out and about and you’ll never need to request a plastic one again!

3. Recycle as much as possible

As simple as it sounds, recycling is a vital way of reducing your plastic footprint. Recycling is an important process in the fight against plastic waste and climate change. It takes 75% less energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled plastic than from ‘virgin’ materials. Recycled plastics can find new lives as clothing, bottles and even toys.

Inform yourself about what is and isn’t recyclable and look for facilities that are able to recycle types of plastics that your local collection doesn’t.

4. Choose sustainable bathroom products

Our bathrooms are often filled with single use plastic bottles, tubs and tubes. There’s now a huge range of sustainably conscious brands which offer shampoo, conditioner and shaving creams without plastic packaging, either in a bar form or in cardboard boxes. Consider using bars of soap instead of plastic bottles, or alternatively take your empty plastic bottle and head to a bulk goods store to refill it as you need to.

It is also worth thinking about the other items in your bathroom that can be replaced with longer lasting or reusable alternatives. Plastic toothbrushes and single use cotton ear buds can be switched for sustainable and biodegradable bamboo versions. Similarly, disposable razors and sanitary items can be swapped for more sustainable, multiple use products.

5. Break up with fast fashion

Perhaps surprisingly, the fashion industry is a major contributor to plastic pollution. Clothing sheds tonnes of plastic microfibres into the ocean every year. These plastics are so small they are able to pass through water filtration systems, entering the ocean and the food chain when they are ingested by marine life.

To help minimise the issue, we can all take steps to reduce the amount of clothing that we buy by embracing slow fashion. Buying less, more durable items of clothing that can be kept and worn for longer will help to minimise your personal impact. Washing clothes on a lower temperature setting and a slower spin speed will also reduce the amount of microfibres that are shed.

Taking steps to reduce our environmental impact and carbon footprint is vital. However, despite our efforts it’s close to impossible to become carbon neutral while living in today’s society. Find out how you can offset your own carbon footprint with Climate Wise:

If you want to find out more about how you can protect the ocean and help save marine life from home, please click here.

© 2024 Climate Wise. Designed And Developed By Ogrelogic.