The world is finally waking up to the dark side of plastic.
This change has come, in part, from David Attenborough’s poignant message in Blue Planet last year: Plastic is doing irreparable damage to marine life. Since then, microbeads have been banned in the UK, supermarket giant Iceland has vowed to eliminate plastic on all their own-brand products and the EU plan to put an end to non-recyclable plastics by 2030.
Why is reducing plastic such a big deal? Because it sticks around, for a longgg time. Plastic can take up to 1000 years to degrade and although most of it is recyclable, the whole recycling process uses an incredible amount of energy and water (and we’re not that good at making sure we always send plastic to the recycling plant either).
Not only that, we’re producing it at a rapid rate. 5 trillion plastic bags are produced yearly. If we put all those bags in a row, it would go round the world seven times. Add that to the fact that we’ve now used enough cling film to cover the earth entirely, and the future’s looking pretty bleak.
There are plenty of easy ways we can reduce plastic in our everyday lives and start making our own positive impact. Below are ten simple steps to start reducing plastic:
1. Stop buying plastic bottles
A million plastic water bottles are used every minute. Every minute. How many of those do you think are necessary? Get yourself a bottle that you can take anywhere and refill it using that wonderful invention that we’re so lucky to have access to: the tap.
2. Say no to straws
Straws are one of the biggest offenders in our war against plastic. They are one of the top ten items found in beach cleanups and a staggering amount are thrown away each day. Switch to a reusable alternative at home and ditch them when your out. This small change could make a huge difference.
3. Find a local zero waste shop
With the plastic-less movement growing, zero waste shops are popping up all over the country. You can bring your own containers and refill them, rather than buying plastic-wrapped goods.
4. Cut the cling film
We’ve already mentioned that we’ve used enough cling film to cover the earth, so let’s not make it a double layer. There are plenty of alternatives to cling film that are reusable, such as beeswax wraps and silicone lids. If you’re storing something in the fridge, use a good old plate to keep it covered.
5. Stop using throwaway coffee cups
Treat yourself to a reusable cup or go even crazier and actually sit down in the café and drink your coffee out of a china mug – you won’t regret it.
6. Cardboard over plastic
Choose products wrapped with cardboard over plastic when you can – it’s much easier to recycle and won’t stick around for 100s of years.
7. Use bar soap
Bar soap not only reduces the number of plastic dispensers in landfill but it is also often found in cardboard packaging rather than plastic wrap. This means you’re making a double reduction in plastic with one very minor change.
8. Voice your concerns
Seen something you think doesn’t need so much plastic? Tell the person that makes it. Customer feedback is the only way that manufacturers will know that their plastic use is putting consumers off. The more people that voice their concerns, the more likely something will change.
9. Join the #PlasticFreeFriday movement
Friends of the Earth launched their #PlasticFreeFriday movement in 2018 and it’s very increasingly popular. By committing to going plastic free for one day a week you’re reducing plastic consumption and training yourself to take the full zero-waste plunge.
10. Buy second hand on Buengo
Buying new things inevitably comes with more plastic. By purchasing second-hand goods, you’re reducing plastic and promoting reuse at the same time. This is one of the main reasons we created Buengo. Next time you feel the retail therapy urge, browse items for sale in your area on the app and you’ll not only be reducing waste but also donating money to good cause – who can argue with that?
Got any other ideas for reducing your household plastic? We’d love to hear them in the comments section!