Happy World Environment Day! And equally, Happy One Plastic Free Day!
Since the start of this year, there’s been a real change of public opinion on plastic. When China began refusing the UK’s waste in January, I wrote about it being our responsibility to stop using plastic. And since then, there’s been an incredible collective effort to stop using it:
- Pret à Manger pledged to stop providing plastic bottles and encouraged recycling
- Plastic straws and cotton buds may be banned across the UK
- There are now three sites in the UK that can recycle disposable coffee cups
- And in a recent survey, 65% of those asked said they use less plastic than they did a year ago
It may have been David Attenborough’s plea to stop our plastic waste that was the most impactful piece of television that aired this year, too. It seems even the Queen took note, banning plastic straws and bottles across the royal estate.
So how come plastic is still everywhere?
How To Avoid Plastic
Clearly, we’re not done yet. Every time I go to the supermarket, I’m amazed at the amount of plastic that’s still being used. Plastic on fresh produce probably irks me the most – if you really want to fume, check out Pointless Packaging on Instagram…
When it gets too much, I end up returning to the pages of Zero Waste Home. It’s a book by Bea Johnson, zero-waste blogger, activist, and entrepreneur. She’s gone one step further, and eliminated all unnecessary waste in her home – something I’d love to do, but I’m not quite there yet.
My favourite advice from Bea includes:
- Live by the 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot
- Look for planet-friendly materials such as wood, paper, cardboard (all biodegradable) and metal or glass, both of which are more easily recyclable than plastic
My 7 Easy Peasy Plastic Swaps
In a similar vein, I’d like to also share a few tips of my own. My home is not yet plastic-free, but is slowly getting there. These are my favourite swaps – making plastic both unnecessary, and quite often, the more expensive option.
When you consider how quickly you get through disposable items, wouldn’t it make more sense to always invest in reusables?
1. Coffee cup
First on the list: coffee. It’s quite literally one of the things that gets me up in the morning (sorry, that was a bit of a dad joke). If I’m traveling, or more generally out and about, I try to always pack my reusable coffee cup. My favourite has to be my KeepCup*, which has a glass body and a cork rim to stop your hand from burning off. I do have to hand-wash it because of the cork, but it’s worth it.
2. Cling film
Oh, the dreaded cling film. I’m just waiting on the day someone finds out how dangerous cling film is (especially if used in the microwave…) Until then, it’s worth switching out the clingy, plastic rubbish for something like Lily Bee Wrap.
I have three sheets of beeswax wrap from Lily Bee, and I couldn’t be happier. Beeswax wrap is quite simple: a piece of cloth is soaked in beeswax, to make it rigid but pliable, slightly sticky, and wipeable too. It makes for a great alternative to film or foil (another item you can’t recycle).
For someone living alone or in a couple, three sheets should be enough to cover any leftovers or sandwiches!
I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard about how terrible plastic straws are. Since the threat of a ban, a lot of cafés and restaurants are switching to paper, meaning we can still enjoy a tall drink… Although I imagine they will still end up in the bin after going a little mushy.
If you prefer, invest in a metal straw*… or if you’re like me, and you forget them in your glass at the café (twice), go without a straw completely.
4. Cotton buds
I feel like cotton buds are one of those items you only ever buy when you’ve run out. It makes it more difficult to buy eco-friendly ones, especially when major retailers only provide plastic ones. Instead, try a reusable bud* or biodegradable cotton buds when you get a chance. They’re both compostable and biodegradable, as well as being sourced from organic cotton farmers. Read my full guide →
5. Wet wipes
Wet wipes are the latest item to come under fire, and rightly so. They make up 93% of fatbergs (ew) and to be honest, we shouldn’t need more evidence as to why they need to be banned. Instead of using disposable wipes, why not treat yourself to a couple of bamboo face cloths? They’re softer, and feel great paired with MOA’s Green Balm* and warm water!
6. Disposable cutlery
Forget plastic cutlery, or worse, those little wooden sporks. If I’m eating out, I’ll always have my Joseph Joseph Cutlery Set* handy. Made from silicone and metal, they cleverly stick together as the knife is magnetic, meaning all three stay in the same place in my rucksack and keep clean too! I also love the look of Bambu’s Cutlery Sets* too… But one is enough for me!
Last but certainly not least, the humble feminine hygiene product. I’m not shy when it comes to talking about my period, and have raved about my MoonCup* many a time on the blog. For good reason: it’s reusable, and it cuts out the plastic tampons and pads I used to use. Since investing £20 in one a few years ago, I’ve not had to buy any sanitary products. If you’d like to know more about how I use mine, check out my guide to using a MoonCup!
Want more ideas? Check out my guide to 40 plastic swaps for next steps!