Single-use plastics at home: the worst offenders and how to get rid of them

You know to swap the car for the train, you’re conscious about cutting down the number of long-haul flights you take, but what about those little everyday swaps you can make that will have a positive impact on the environment?

It has been claimed that by 2050 there will be a higher volume of plastic in the oceans than fish, meaning charities such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation require an increasing amount of help to keep our seas healthy for the marine life that lives in it. And it’s our reliance on plastic that is to blame. Most UK households throw away at least 40kg of it each year. Of all the plastic ever produced, appena 9% has been recycled, and large amounts have ended up in the sea, damaging marine life and increasing global warming.

While it may feel as if the bulk of things we buy are wrapped in plastic, we can make switches that will curb our consumption and protect the planet. Whether it’s ditching bottled water, investing in long-lasting food containers or buying in bulk, it’s worth thinking about the easiest changes you can make today.

1 Steer clear of plastic fruit and veg bags
We’ve all seen enough images of marine life trapped in plastic bags to know this particular plastic problem is seriously harming the planet. With an average lifespan of just 12 minuti, single-use bags makes no sense. So when picking up loose items such as fruit and veg, avoid using the little plastic bags that supermarkets offer by bringing your own cotton ones. Hopefully you’re used to remembering your big canvas or cotton tote bags for the main shop, but these smaller plastic bags can easily creep into your weekly supermarket trip unless you make a conscious effort to cut them out.

2 Use clingfilm alternatives
Cooking meals in batches or saving leftovers is a great way to avoid food waste. tuttavia, storing food isn’t always easy. It’s tempting to reach for the clingfilm even though it’s not the most eco-friendly choice. Clingfilm, normally made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), cannot be recycled. This material often ends up being broken down into microplastics in the ocean and damaging the ecosystem and wildlife. Anziché, invest in food containers. For covering dishes or wrapping sandwiches, try beeswax wraps, ad esempio these from the Beeswax Wrap Co. A natural alternative to clingfilm, this smart solution can easily be shaped and forms a tight seal around your food.

3 Avoid buying water in plastic bottles
The environmental impact of bottled water is up to 3,500 times higher than tap water. Normally made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) – a plastic that demands huge resources to recycle – these bottles are the first on a list of plastics that can be easily ditched. Buying bottled water to drink at home isn’t necessary to ensure you have clean, great-tasting water – instead, invest in a BRITA water filter and do your bit for the planet.

4 Try solid bathroom basics
The lotions and potions that line your bathroom are likely housed in hard-to-recycle packaging. Research from the home improvement store Tap Warehouse found that while UK citizens recycle 90% of their kitchen packaging, only 50% of bathroom packaging gets recycled. To lessen your load, try solid soaps, shampoo and conditioners. Lush has a great selection to choose from. These products use less packaging, and require less water to produce – double win.

5 Invest in a bamboo toothbrush
Dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three to four months. Considering the billions of people on the planet, that’s a lot of toothbrushes and a huge amount of plastic waste. Made from polypropylene and nylon, one plastic toothbrush can take thousands of years to decompose. When your next toothbrush reaches the end of its life, consider investing in a greener alternative.

A bamboo toothbrush is the obvious option. Fast-growing and naturally renewable, bamboo is an excellent sustainable material. As it’s biodegradable, after use it can be added to an at-home compost bin or a commercial one. Boobalou’s environmental toothbrush – made from moso bamboo – fits the bill perfectly. The brand also employs local farmers and pays them fairly, so you’ll feel extra good about your purchase.

If you prefer an electric toothbrush, invest in recyclable toothbrush heads instead of the go-to plastic option. Just be sure to check compatibility. Questi bamboo Philips Sonicare heads are compatible with several Sonicare models and these Brushd recyclable heads are compatible with various Oral-B models.

6 Switch to a metal razor
Another bathroom switch that could reduce your plastic consumption is changing up your razor. The bulk of a disposable razor is non-biodegradable, leading to hazardous waste ending up in landfill. Razor blades will rust away but they leave behind the plastic handle and casing for many years. The exact amount of years is unknown but scientists predict it can be up to thousands of years. A safety razor (made from metal with replaceable blades) or an electric shaver is a much more sustainable and long-lasting option. Il stainless steel double-edged safety razor from Bambaw is completely plastic-free, with replacement blades available from most supermarkets.

7 Buy in bulk
If you look at items that fill your kitchen, the chances are that many are wrapped in plastic. It’s hard to get away from but there are some solutions. First of all, buy in bulk. The bigger the packaging, the less plastic waste overall. Think about buying dried basics such as rice and pasta in 5kg (11lb) bags. And investing in airtight containers will ensure your food is fresh for longer, meaning there’s less to throw away.

One step better is shopping at a zero-waste store. Take a reusable container from home and fill it up to avoid buying things in plastic. Whole Foods Market’s Kensington store now has a large self-service, zero-waste section.

For items such as cleaning products or laundry powder, choosing refillable products is also a great option as they can be consistently replenished.

A simple change like ditching plastic bottles will help the environment. Head to BRITA for more information

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