We’re amidst a plastic pandemic and it’s time to make daily changes to sort out our world! Plastic Free July is an incentive to get everyone trying new things and if you can tackle it for one month, you can keep it going for all time! This year, 326 million people took part and as one of them, I wanted to share all the things I picked up and am ready to stick to.
The Disposable Razor
A day to day product we all use is the disposable razor. In 2018, approximately 5.5 million people in the UK were using disposable razors. Throwing these away on a weekly basis, it’s clear how many are going into landfill. Disposbale razors are not easily recycled because they are inconveniently made from mixed materials and the sharp nature is hazardous and clogs up landfill sites.
Disposable razors were introduced in the 1970’s and with marketing staying on trend and fashionable, they have become a household essential. New products with aloe vera gel, pretty colours and comfort ratings, it’s all a marketing ploy for you to buy more, more, more! There’s alternatives to shaving all together but if you’re used to the convenience and practicality of shaving at home, there are alternatives to the throw away options now readily available on the market.
Check out some of these reusable razors: Naked Necessities Zero Waste | Edwin Jagger Steel Razors | Rabbit Razors Rosewood | Mutiny Shaving | Shoreline Shaving | Upcircle Plastic Free Razor | BamBaw Safety Razor
Plastic Sandwich Bags
When packing your lunch, a picnic or preparing food for the fridge, it’s time to say no to the plastic sandwich bags and move on to something more long term! The options out there are endless. Reusable tubberware is great but still ultimately plastic, go one step further and opt for glass, steel or bamboo boxes.
No one likes to be a bit stinky but the enviroment doesn’t need to suffer. Aside from the element of toxic chemicals, deodorant also comes packaged in plastic and household will throw away many of these throughout the year. The planet friendly deodorant market is growing and you can now find sticks in cardboard tubes, tines and glass pots which can all be reused. Check out these: Wild | ku.tis | Your Nature
Plastic in Tea Bags
You’d be forgiven for thinking tea bags were plastic free – I did too! But they are actually sealed with a form of plastic. Canadian researchers published a study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Environmental Science and Technology which found that steeping a single plastic tea bag at brewing temperature released about 1.6 billion minuscule particles known as micro plastics and 3.1 billion Nano plastics into each cup. Consider changing to plastic free bags or loose leaf tea! Some brands that offer this include: Good & Proper Tea | Nemi Teas | Roqberry
Plastic Packaged Make Up Remover Pads
We’re using reusable drinks bottles, reusable cutlery and reusable shopping bags so it’s time to make our make up remover pads reusable! Ditch the plastic packaged cotton pads and move over to the reusable, washable cotton make up pads which can be washing in the machine and use time and time again! Some great brands worth checking out include: Greenzla | BamBaw | Beach Boutique
Cling film is a daily used product and it’s something a lot of people will believe they cannot live without. More than 1.2 billion meters, equating to 745,000 miles of cling film is used by households across Britain every year – enough to go the world circumference 30 times over! Because of the nature of cling film, once in the ocean it can look like jelly fish and other fish which chokes the marine life. Swap out for wax wraps! Bee Bee Wraps | Bee Green Wraps UK | Bees Wax Wraps
Plastic Shampoo & Conditioner Bottles
Throughout researching plastics and the effect on the enviromnet the worst thing I keep reading is that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean – that is so crazy it’s hard to fathom. Another daily essential is the shampoo or conditioner bottles. Some brands are starting to develop recycled packaging and some refill stores offer it by the pump to refill. Personally, I’m enjoying shampoo bars! Check out Six Foot & Clean and their shampoo bars made of 100% natural ingredients and oils.
Plastic Bottled Health Shots
How often do you grab a ginger shot when in the supermarket picking up your lunch? A couple of quid and a promise of a healthier life but it’s single use plastic which is being used daily. Ginger heath shots are so easy to make yourself so you’ll be saving the planet and your bank account! Juice some fresh ginger and some oranges and you’re good to go!
A 2015 study by Ocean Conservancy Scientists and partners found that plastic cutlery are among the most dangerous to ocean animals such as seabirds and turtles, especially as they break up into smaller micro plastics. In 2018, in just one day, volunteers removed close to 2 million single use plastic forks, knives and spoons from waterways around the globe. Refuse plastic cutlery and opt for wooden or keep your own reuseable set with you. Check out these lovely sets for your handbag! Wild & Stone Bamboo Set | Wearth London Travel Set | Eco Bravo Cutlery Set
Autumn comes around and everyone heads to Homesense for their fill of candles. What else do you need? Ah, a multipack of disposable plastic lighters. You use them, misplace them around the house and buy more. Over 1.5 billion disposable lighters end up in landfills every year. Unfortunately lighters cannot be recycled. The residue from the lighter fluid or butane makes lighters impossible to process even when your lighter has been emptied or cleaned. Unlike plastic lighters, matches are made from wood and are fully biodegradable.
Plastic Soap Dispensers
In the current world we’re all washing our hands more than ever. Hygene is important but how many plastic soap dispenders are we now going through? Including at home, at work and in the shops. Think about switching to bar soaps packaged in cardboard.
Plastic Wine Tops
Something which is easy to forget about is the plastic top on your Friday night wine bottle. As much as possible, opt for bottles with cork. Cork stoppers use less than a quarter of the energy required to make plastic or aluminium closures. Aluminium closures produce 25 times more greenhouse gases than cork and twice the solid waste.
What do we do twice a day, everyday? Brush our teeth. So the toothbrush is a daily essential. You may use an electric toothbrush but buy a disposable plastic one when travelling? One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in America, it’s hard to get your head around that amount. It takes over 400 years for these to start breaking down. Swap out the plastic brush for bamboo ones: The Bam&Boo Toothbrush | The Humble Co. | Bamwoo Bamboo
The Plastic Bag
Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution is in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabirds species examined. At least 267 different species have been affected by plastic pollution in the ocean and 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes yet it takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t break down completely but instead degrade becoming micro plastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment. Stock up on tote bags, net bags and hessian bags for your shopping needs! One of my favourite brands is Turtle Bags who has been raising awareness for nearly 10 years about marine plastic.
Plastic Cotton Buds
In the UK alone it is estimated that we use 1.8 billion, mostly single use plastic, cotton buds every year. High useage and widespread improper disposal has resulted in the pollution of inland waterways and the marine environment. Between 2015 – 2018 cotton buds were in the top 10 items found during the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean. During 2018, 22 cotton buds were found in every 100 meters of UK beach surveyed. A cotton buds long thin shape can pierce the internal organs of marine animals that may accidentally ingest them and plastic stems regularly turn up in the stomachs of seabirds.
Switch to bamboo buds which will degrade when disposed of, some brands offering brilliant alternatives are: My Little Eco Shop | The Humble Co. Cotton Swabs | Ocean Saver Cotton Buds | Non Plastic Beach Bamboo Buds
Plastic Fruit & Veg Bags
The UK’s top 10 supermarkets were producing 1.2 billion plastic bags a year for your fruit and veg,. Fruit and veg by its very nature, has protective skins s other’s no need to substitute this for plastic! Keep your reusable bags in the car for when you head to the supermarket.
Plastic Packaged Granola
Granola is the perfect healthy breakfast or dinner it there’s nothing left tin the cupboard! Often packaged in plastic reseal pouches or boxes with inner plastic packaging, granola is so easy to make at home, saving you the plastic! All you need is oats, maple syrup, nuts and seeds of your choice and any fruit you wish to add – voila!
Plastic Washing Up Tools & Sponges
When doing your daily chore of doing the washing up, think about the plastic tools or packaged tools you are using. Swapping out plastic brushes or choosing compostable sponges instead of plastic packaged one.
How often do you pop to Primark before a holiday and grab a pair of £1 sunglasses? Do these sunglasses get left on the beach or dropped off the side of the boat and never seen again? They’re only £1 – who cares! Well, the ocean cares. Time to swap out those cheap plastic frames for something with more heart.
Waterhaul is a Cornish brand doing amazing things. They are using the discarded plastic fishing nets found in the ocean and turning this into sunglasses. “Every year 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are lost or discarded in the ocean. Samples of plastic waste accumulating in our oceanic gyres reveal 46% of this plastic, by weight, is attributed to fishing gear.” Reducing plastic waste is one thing but utilising the waste that’s already there is another. I’m in awe of these guys and what they are doing!
The Plastic Bottle
According to the Container Recycling Institute, 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the us in 2014, or 315 bottles per person; 57% of those units were plastic water bottles: 57.3 billion sold in 2014. This is up from 3.8 billion plastic water bottles sold in 1996, the earliest year for avalible data. The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container. 14% of all litter comes from beverage containers. When caps and labels are considered, the number is higher.
Omni Bottle – Omni Bottle are doing great things; buy one of their reusable bottles and you not only have a gorgeous environmentally friendly accessory but also £5 per bottle supports vulnerable species including elephants, orang-utans and polar bears.
Ocean Bottle – When purchasing one of these reusable bottles, you are not only making your way to helping the environment but also helping fund this wonderful company to support beach cleans throughout the Country. Since launching in January 2019, they have funded collections equivalent to 30 million plastic bottles!
Chilly’s x City To Sea – These two environmental power houses have joined forces to create some stunning artist sketched bottles and for every bottle sold, £10 goes to the refill scheme which is helping people all over the Country to offer refill stations and free tap water to encourage people to not buy plastic bottled water but ask to be filled up instead!
Shole UK – Another wonderful brand founded with the intention to kick single use plastic. Shole is a member of the 1% for the planet scheme where 1% of sales is donated to Plastic Oceans UK.
Plastic Pizza Saver
Thirty four years ago a woman named Carmela Vitale patented the pizza saver; a piece of plastic that stops your box from getting soggy. A useless invention that isn’t needed perhaps? Ask to opt out of the pizza saver when having your takeaway!
Plastic Cleaning Supplies
Since cleaning influencers took the online world by storm, millions of households have been influenced to buy more products which leads to not only more chemicals down the drain and into the oceans but more plastic bottles, sprays and packaging being thrown away. Quote from when Mrs Hinch became a household name ‘sales of the pink stuff have rocketed 350% in the past 6 months according to the brand. Unilever says sales of CIF stainless steel have grown by two thirds and Zoflora has had to invest in a multimillion pound manufacturing and packaging facility in order to cope with increasing demand’ Let me introduce you to Ocean Saver! These amazing drops are plant based and eco-friendly, just a few drops in water and you have yourself all the cleaning supplies you need! Buy them online at OceanSaver.
Plastic Food Packaging
UK households throw away at least 40kg of plastic each year which is enough to make 10 recycling bins each. There’s plastic in everything you buy from the supermarket from plastic wrapped foods, reseal packets, bottles and tubs. Local refill stores are brilliant and the perfect answer to these issues. These stores are popping up more and more and it’s well worth researching your local area. In the Cornwall area? Check out: The Good Lyfe | Un_Rap | Replenish Zero Waste | Refill Shop Bude | Mobile Zero Waste
The Plastic Straw
In 2019, the UK used approximately 8.5 billion plastic straws per year. This equates to every person using 130 straws per year. There are currently 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic in the world; Seven percent of this consists of plastic straws. The UK contributes 4.93 million tonnes of plastic waste every year of which 3,570 tonnes of staws. At one point, McDonalds were serving 1.8 million staws per day to citizens of the US. It’s claimed that 500 million straws are used in the US every day. The sad truth is, 90% of sea birds and 30% of turtles are thought to have plastic in their stomachs. The good news is many food chains no longer offer plastic straws but the bad news is whilst it takes over 200 years to break down, plastic straws are already out there in the oceans.
There’s always an option to say no to the straw but it you’re a straw user – metal, bamboo or other reusable alternatives are now widely available. Check some out here: Panda Packaging Bamboo Straws | Bamboo Straws | Pureosophy Stainless Steel Straw | Soseas Steel Straws | The Friendly Panda Bamboo Straw
Plastic Packaged Herbs
An essential for many households when cooking, is fresh herbs. When picking these up from the supermarket, unfortunately they come packaged in plastic. Buying them this way is convenient without a doubt, you can buy them as and when you need them and in suitable quantities but growing your own herb garden is easy and is so fulfilling. You can grow them from seed or already established, plant them in the garden or sit them on the window sill. You don’t need a big space, just somewhere that gets sunlight!
Plastic Milk Bottles
From a report in 2017; during the period of 2016 – 2017, 14.3 million litres of milk were produced in the UK with 88% of this being bottled in plastic containers. On average, we consume 144 pinks of milk every year, which is almost a staggering 3 pints a week. Equate this to a milk container and you’re going through almost two, 2 pint plastic bottles every week. This may not seem like much, but combine this consumption across the UK and you’ve got just one family of four throwing away 288 plastic bottles every year, and that’s just from milk. There’s a simple way to solve this issue. Using glass bottled milk and support your local milkman at the same time – brilliant! Head to the website findmeamilkman.net to find your local milkman!
Pegs can be like hair grips, you’ve bought plenty in your life time but they evaporate and all of a sudden you have non left! Consider switching to wooden pegs, just as efficient but without the risk of getting lost and choking up your wildlife!
Plastic Coffee Cups
In the UK we use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day – that’s 2.5 billion every year. A shocking amount of 99.75% of take away coffee cups do not get recycled and this is sometimes down to the composition of the materials. Some large chains offer discounts to those who bring a reusable coffee cup however Starbucks reports only 1.8% and Costa only 1% are sold this way. Save your money and bring a reusable cup! Find some lovely ones here: Solcups | Huski Home Rice Husk Cups | Frank Green | JOCO Glass Cups | Bru-Cups
Plastic Gift Wrapping
Whether it’s a birthday, Christmas or a work colleague is leaving, we all like to give a gift to someone throughout the year. With gift giving comes single use plastic. Whether it’s plastic wrap on wrapping paper, plastic tape or plastic tags. Simple swaps will reduce your plastic waste and can make the gift look even more special and thoughtful. Think about using reusable gift bags, wrapping with newspaper and fixing with ribbons or string.