Minimising plastic at home

It will be almost impossible to keep plastic out of your home, but there are some very simple things that you can do to keep it to a minimum. The main reason for doing this is to keep plastic out of our water ways. It clogs everything up and is eaten by wildlife. It is also very ugly to see rivers and beaches covered with plastic rubbish. These little things will help. 

1. Shopping bags

The easiest way to reduce plastic is to take your own canvas shopping bags. When you have unpacked your shopping, put them back in the car so you won't forget them next time. This small change of habit will help reduce the massive mess and damage to our environment that these bags cause. 

If it helps you to remember, listen to Tim Minchin singing about getting rid of plastic bags and taking your canvas bags to the supermarket. 

2. Packed lunches

Find a non-plastic lunch box or a good quality durable one that will last for a long time. Or just wrap in a paper bag that you can throw away after you have finished. 

3. Plastic drink bottles

There are a number of great companies who make metal drink bottles. However, for those who run plastic will always win as it is lighter, so find a good quality one that will last, and try to avoid the disposable one-off-use bottles. This is not always possible when you are really thirsty, but every bit will help.

4. Disposable coffee and tea cups

The UK uses and then throws away 2.5 billion (yep, billion with a "b") coffee and tea cups each year [1]. That number makes me cry! Find a thermos: they will keep your coffee warmer and you can hold it without burning your hand. Win win for the thermos!

5. The bathroom

This is one area that creates a huge amount of plastic waste and because it is away from the recycle bin these empty bottles often end up in landfill rather than the recycling. One of the best solutions is to buy in bulk and then decant the products into sustainable lovely containers. That way you will only have one lot of plastic going into the recycle bin every so often. And out a recycled bin into the bathroom. Then everyone can help. 

6. Food shopping

Where you can, choose food that is not wrapped. There really is no need to buy a cucumber wrapped in plastic. Or a mandarin peeled and separated and sold in a plastic punnet. Nature has given it a very good wrapping already. The same goes for many items at the greengrocer. Also, look out for products wrapped in paper - once you start to look, you will find them. If everyone does this then companies will use less plastic too. We can lead the way. 

Why reduce plastic?

If the above list of tips and tricks has not sparked you into action, then consider this: plastic kills wildlife. When you consider the threat that plastics pose to native wildlife like turtles [2], it really is a horrible waste. It also ends up - eventually - in the middle of the ocean [3]. Every plastic bag or string tie avoided can help.

If we all do our bit, then we can try to get back to lovely clean waterways and beaches like these.