Why you need to find alternatives to single use plastics NOW and ways to find them

May 19, 2021 | Reduce Plastic, Reduce Waste

Say no to single use plastics

When embarking on sustainable living one of the first things you can do is reduce the amount of single use items you use in general, but particularly cutting out single use plastics. These are convenient and often inexpensive so can be the ‘go to’ in the first instance…but…it’s worth taking some time to think about the damage they are causing and how easily they can be replaced.

Plastic never fully breaks down. It eventually breaks up into smaller particles, microplastics. They stick around for ages spreading toxins that leech from them and are harmful to wildlife, particularly marine life. The fuels used to make plastic also contributes to global warming.

Single use items make up a huge part of the waste problem we have going into landfill. A reduced waste lifestyle definitely means replacing as many of these as we can with reusables. Think of all of the single use items you use once or twice, then they go into the bin:

  • Shopping bags
  • Drinking straws
  • Takeaway containers, cutlery and napkins
  • Takeaway coffee cups
  • Paper towels
  • Face and hand wet wipes
  • Bottled water
  • Cling wrap and aluminium foil
  • Sandwich bags

The list could go on and on. Conducting a waste audit in your home can be a good way to start looking at how much waste your household produces, particularly the single use items. The first time we did one I was honestly astounded by the amount going into the kerb side landfill bin that didn’t need to.

There are alternatives for all the items listed above that can be used and washed and used again many, many times. There are plenty on the market, but also so many things you have lying around at home already that can be used. 

Let’s look at some other plastic alternatives to reduce single use plastics in your day-to-day life.

Packaging – all kinds of packaging. Food and drinks, household products, personal care products, gifts….

I always look at packaging first. If it’s plastic I look for alternatives. Can I buy tomato paste in a glass jar instead of plastic tubs. Is there a brand of pasta that comes in cardboard instead of plastic. Can I get sunscreen in a tin instead of a plastic tube. If I do buy in plastic, I look at what I can reuse or repurpose the packaging for or whether I can recycle it in any way.

Refill culture is also on the rise. Refills and bulk stores are fantastic ways to reduce plastic waste. Rather than collecting and recycling numerous shampoo and conditioner bottles for example, ways to have bottles refilled or buying shampoo and conditioner bars have become more popular. Similarly, when buying packaged pantry items, rather than buying from the supermarket and recycling the packaging, if possible, after the item has been used, bulk stores offer a way to refill your own empty containers.

Now let’s look at ingredients and what things are made of – microplastics can be found in ingredients in household and personal care products. They can also be found in fibres in what some clothing and textiles are made from. I always look into what the things I buy are made from.

I’m so glad governments here are looking into banning the use of single use plastics, minimising the throw away lifestyle we often lead and taking note of the damage these are causing to our environment.

How are you going to reduce using single use plastics?

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