Image Credit: Jan Phoenix
Plastic waste is one of the scourges of the era; our oceans are filling up with plastic, fish are ingesting plastic particles and so tiny plastic microparticles are entering the human food chain.
Landfill contains billions of plastic items that will not degrade for decades.
Recycling our unwanted plastic items is one step forward, but it is even better to reduce our use of plastic items, particularly the sort of single use plastic items that we are offered so carelessly in so many places, such as our favourite coffee shop or fast food restaurant.
So here are ten ways you can avoid single use plastic items and reduce your plastic waste today.
Carrying your own shopping bags is a no-brainer, but if you forget your bag don't just sigh and resign yourself to paying for a 5p carrier bag.
In the supermarket you may be able to use a cardboard box if you have a lot of groceries. Otherwise for a single item, just carry it in your hand.
You can also bring your own produce bags or make your own food wraps from any fabric you have at hom. Upcycle old sheets or clothing into reusable wrappers for your fruit, vegetables and even meat and cheese.
Did you know that chewing gum contained plastic? I was shocked. Your gum contains polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate, which is why you must not swallow it!
There are some plastic-free brands of chewing gum such as Chewsy available in the UK but please, chewing gum is just disgusting, so wean yourself off it and go gum-free.
When you buy a coffee to go, that cup may look like paper, but it is lined with a plastic coating. Some coffee companies may collect them for recycling, but it requires a high degree of processing to separate the lining from the cup.
Bringing your own cup for a takeaway coffee is pretty common now so your barista shouldn't be phased by the request. You can buy ceramic, plastic or bamboo reusable cups with their own lids or how about an old-fasioned unbreakable, light tin cup to carry around with you?
With the news that McDonalds will be phasing out the use of plastic straws in the UK, hopefully more restaurants, takeaways and cafes will follow their lead. You could just drink your drink out of the cup rather than accepting the alternative of a paper straw, which is still a waste of materials unless you genuinely need a straw for medical reasons.
Otherwise bring your own reusable plastic ot metal straw.
If you are lucky enough to live near a bulk store you can take your own reusable packaging to buy kitchen staples such as flour, cereal, sugar and many more things such as oil or cleaning materials which are packaged in plastic bottles.
If not, choose to buy the largest package possible of any item and decant into your own smalller container if necessary.
There are lots of ways to reduce your reliance on cling film or Saran wrap. Use lidded reusable containers, cover a bowl with a plate or try out beeswax wraps.
Wrap sandwiches in paper or better still put them in a reusable container.
Exercise your power as a consumer by rejecting single use plastic packaging. Whenever you buy an item, if possible choose one packaged in recycleable paper or card rather than plastic.
Yes, you can recycle the plastic bottle that you buy your milk in from the supermarket, but that bottle is still only used once before it is recycled, which requires extra energy to make it into something new.
Did you know that it is possible to have your milk delivered daily in many parts of the UK, in a glass bottle. Milk bottles are sterilised and reused over and over again and , of course, at the end of their life can still be recycled into new bottles.
Carry your own water bottle rather than buying a single use plastic bottle or use your reusable cup - you could try asking for tap water in a restaurant, bar or cafe.
Don't reach for disposable plastic glasses and cups for a special event. You can hire sets of drinking glasses from wine merchants or supermarkets such as Waitrose, who will hire glasses to customers for free. Breakages will usually be charged, so check terms and conditions.
As a side note, who knew that you could hire a fish kettle from Waitrose?!
Related: What Does Zero Waste Actually Mean?