Easy Ways To Use Less Plastic


There’s lots in the news at the moment about our climate, and our environment — especially when it concerns the amount of plastic in our oceans.

If current trends continue, predictions say we’re on course to have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Here are some simple steps we can take, and swaps we can make, to help cut down on the amount of plastic we use.

  • Take a reusable cup if you’re having takeaway coffee. 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK — that’s around seven million a day. Some coffee shops offer a discount if you bring your own cup.
  • Carry a sustainable shopping bag, or keep bags in your car. And if, like us, you often forget until you’re at the till, take them out of the boot before you head off! Pop them on the seat beside your handbag so you don’t go in without them.
  • Say no to plastic straws; if you really need a straw, try using a paper or steel straw instead.

Avoid single-use plastic where you can

  • Instead of one-use sandwich bags, consider using a lunch box, and swap cling film for recyclable aluminium foil.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle. We use over seven billion one-use plastic water bottles every year in the UK alone. Go to www.refill.org.uk to find out where you can refill for free on the go.
  • Choose cardboard over plastic, and buy boxes rather than bottles where possible (e.g. when buying laundry detergent).
  • Avoid excessive food packaging where you can. Loose fruit and veg is usually cheaper, so you’ll make a saving, too. Fizzy drinks and frozen food are both often heavily packaged in plastic, so opting for healthier alternatives is good for you and good for the environment.

Plastic Alternatives

One survey estimates we only use items of plastic cutlery for a total of three minutes before they’re thrown away. If you’ll be eating on the move, bring your own cutlery — try keeping a fork, spoon (or spork) in your daytime bag, or at your desk at work instead.

Around 85% of plastic hangers are not reused or recycled, ending up in landfill. Wooden hangers are a natural alternative.

Buying wine? Look for a natural cork stopper rather than a plastic lid.

Making small changes and thinking ahead makes a world of difference

  • Have milk delivered in reusable glass bottles rather than plastic containers.
  • If you or your other half use a razor, consider swapping disposables for razors with a replaceable blade.
  • Consider buying toilet roll wrapped in paper rather than plastic.

Plastic Can Be Found In Surprising Places

  • Did you know chewing gum often contains plastic? Check before you chew!
  • Think about switching to bars of soap and shampoo instead of bottled.
  • Most of us will go through around 300 toothbrushes in our lifetime. It’s thought around 80% of these will end up in the sea, where they pose a considerable risk to marine life. Bamboo toothbrushes, which are kinder on the environment, are available.

Most importantly of all, let people know how you feel.

If you’re offered a plastic straw, or unnecessary packaging with your pizza, explain why you’re declining. That’s one way we can all start making changes.

For more from our team, read our blog here.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!