How to cut down on your need for plastic

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Did you know that most plastics don’t biodegrade? That means that every single piece of plastic you have ever touched could still be out there somewhere, either in landfill or washed into the ocean or has been incinerated. The current human population of the world is around 7.6 billion, and that means a lot of produce, a lot of consumption, and a lot of plastic.

Small changes can make a big difference; find out what you could do today to help our planet’s tomorrow.

Buy local: this can help to reduce your impact on the environment in lots of ways. It means less packaging, less mileage and more support for local small businesses.

Remove packaging at the shop: while this doesn’t reduce the amount of plastic on the things you buy, leaving it at the shop sends a clear message that it is unnecessary.

Bring your own bags: Since 5 October 2015, large retailers in England have been required by law to charge a minimum 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags. Government data indicates that, as a result 83% fewer plastic bags were used by customers last year: that’s 6 billion fewer bags in the world! If you do forget your own bags, why not check if there’s a cardboard box you could use.

Buy refills: There are an increasing number of businesses offering refill services for products like laundry detergent and washing up liquid. Refilling bottles is a great way of keeping plastics you already have out of landfill or the oceans.

Use soap: bottles of handwash and shower gel can all be replaced – at a much cheaper cost – by good old fashioned soap. A number of companies are producing solid shampoo and conditioner bars too, so there’s an alternative to filling the bathroom with single-use plastic.

Consider reusable baby products: there’s better quality and range than ever before when it comes to reusable baby products, with many small businesses coming up with ways to stay green and reduce waste. Baby wipes don’t have to come in plastic packs, and they don’t have to be man-made fabrics that last forever. Handkerchiefs and flannels could be just as good for wiping sticky hands and faces, and strong kitchen roll could be moistened for cleaning up.

Buy a reusable coffee cup: The vast majority of takeaway coffee cups we get in coffee shops are not recyclable due to the plastic lining. Buy your own reusable coffee cup and you may even find that some coffee shops will give you a discount.

Use paper straws: A recent study showing 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK. If you need a straw – make it a paper one.

Drink tap water: 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute—or about 20,000 per second—around the globe, driven, experts believe, by our desire for bottled water. Why not carry a refillable bottle? Thousands of cafés and restaurants will refill them with tap water, for free. You just have to ask.

Buy clothes made from natural fibres: Synthetic and man-made fibres have a huge impact on the environment, contributing an overwhelming amount of chemicals, waste and carbon emissions. Where possible, consider buying natural fibres. They may cost more in some instances, but they feel better, look great and their production has a much lower impact on the environment.

Small changes can soon snowball into real progress.

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