10 ways to reduce your use of plastics
1 DITCH THE PLASTIC BAGS
Lightweight plastic carrier bags – carrier bags with a thickness below 50 microns – become waste more quickly and are more prone to littering due to their lightness. Littering of plastic carrier bags results in environmental pollution and aggravates the widespread problem of litter in water bodies, threatening aquatic ecosystems worldwide.
2 NATURAL BEAUTY
Choose personal care products (such as scrubs and peels) that use sand, salt or coconut rather than plastics particles that release microbeads and nurdles that ultimately make their way into the seas.
3 REUSABLE COFFEE CUP
Take your own recyclable coffee cup when you next order a brew. Speak to and write to those coffee chains that still use plastic straws, lids, cups and plastic cutlery.
4 BUY LOOSE INGREDIENTS
When buying from a supermarket, choose options that are not packaged in plastic. Avoid processed food, which often comes in plastic packaging. Buy fresh and raw ingredients loose from shelves and cook your own meals. Consider ordering vegetable boxes from local farms and organic suppliers. They deliver fresh seasonal food plastic-free.
5 AVOID SYNTHETIC FIBRES
Buy clothes made from natural fibres. Many of our clothes are made from plastics such as polyester and acrylic. Synthetic fibres flake off in washing machines and enter the water course, settle on seabeds and enter the marine food chain. A single washing cycle can release 700,000 microscopic fibres. A campaign last year by Greenpeace spurred several outdoor brands to promise to end their use of PFCs in their clothing and use new oil-based coatings that give just as good water-repellency.
6 WRITE TO PURVEYORS
Write to shops and companies, such as train companies and supermarkets that sell fruit and pastries – often single items – wrapped in hard plastic. Urge them to switch to reusable or fully compostable alternatives.
7 TIDY A BEACH
Take part in a beach clean. Spend just two minutes doing a litter pick on the beach. Spread the word by documenting your efforts online with the hashtag #twominutebeachclean.
8 THINK DIFFERENT
Look at alternatives for other everyday items, such as toothbrushes made from bamboo rather than plastic, or organic cotton buds with 100% biodegradeable card sticks. You can refill empty laundry detergent bottles at local stores or consider beeswax food wraps rather than cling film made from crude oil.
9 REPORT NURDLES
Nurdles are the pre-production plastic pellets used in plastics manufacturing, and they end up in our oceans in their millions due to mishandling and accidental spilling in industry. Nurdles attract and concentrate background pollutants such as DDT and PCBs to highly toxic levels. They are often mistaken for food by marine and bird life. They don’t biodegrade – over time they simply fragment into smaller and smaller particles. If you find any nurdles, you can register them at nurdlehunt.org.uk
10 REDUCE CONSUMPTION
Cut down your own consumption – and not just of obvious plastic. A great deal of the plastic issues around clothing, for example, could be addressed if we bought fewer new clothes in response to seasonal fashion drives, and resold or repurposed the ones we have. Several clothing brands such as Rapanui Clothing offer vouchers to encourage clothing return or recycling programmes.