Monday, 4 March 2019

Small Changes I Have Made To Reduce My Plastic Consumption

Recently it dawned on me just how much plastic, particularly single use plastic we use in our everyday lives and it’s something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I was always subconsciously aware that plastic has a damaging effect on our planet but I was never fully aware of the consequences. It wasn’t until I sat and thought about how much single use plastic I purchased on a daily basis that I realised I had to make a change quickly.

The whole idea of being more environmentally friendly and sustainable is something I really wanted to educate myself on and make a change. I became so invested in wanting to learn how to make a difference to the planet so I spent the next few days researching as much as I could about plastic free lifestyles. 

The majority of plastics we use either makes its way to a landfill or the ocean. As soon as the plastic is in the ocean it puts birds, fish and marine mammals in danger. Single use plastics such as plastic bottles and caps, plastic bags, plastic cutlery and plastic straws are some of the most common items to wash up on our beaches. Using environmentally friendly alternatives of these items is so important in keeping our sea life and planet safe.  

Thoughts on getting started

I knew from the get go that I wouldn’t be able to become completely plastic free, and personally I’m okay with that. Making small everyday changes to help reduce my plastic consumption is what suits me best at the moment, these tiny alternatives have a big environmental impact on the planet and I am now so conscious of my single use plastic pollution. 

I still live at home with my parents and siblings so it does make it harder to reduce plastic in my household however, this is not something I want to force onto them I just want to make them slightly more aware of the topic and hope that they can be encouraged to make some small changes themselves. 

How you can make the change 

Plastic Water Bottles 

Swapping your plastic water bottle for a reusable bottle is one of the easiest changes you can make. It was estimated that in the UK 35 million plastic bottles are used every day and 23 million of them will NOT get recycled resulting in them heading to the landfill or ocean. Whenever I leave the house I fill up my Chilly bottle and throw it in my back so if I’m ever thirsty on the go I always have a drink on me and I can avoid buying plastic bottles. One of my favourite things about Chilly Bottles (aside from helping save the planet) is that they will keep your drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. Perfect for keeping your water ice cold on a hot summer’s day or your coffee piping hot on a winter’s day. You can purchase your own Chilly Bottle here.
Plastic Bags 

Keeping a foldable reusable shopping bag is something my mum has always done and again it’s something you can just keep in your bag and its always there if you need it. Many plastic bags end up in the ocean where they come into contact with turtles who mistake the floating plastic bag for jellyfish – one of their favourite foods. When the turtles eat the bags, they have trouble digesting them which often ends in fatalities. You may have seen the photo (here) doing its rounds on twitter of the comparison of the plastic bag and the jellyfish in the glass jars filled with water and even I can’t tell the difference. I got my reusable shopping bag on eBay for a couple of pounds and there are so many designs you can choose from. (Buy Here)

Plastic Toothbrush

Did you know what every plastic toothbrush we have ever used in our life is still on this planet? – this is because it will take over 400 years to decompose. On average I use three toothbrushes a year so multiplying that by my 20 years on this earth, alone I have sent approximately 60 toothbrushes to the landfill where they will remain indefinitely.

So, what can you do to prevent this? Buy a bamboo toothbrush instead, these types of toothbrushes are biodegradable and are an easy way to help environment as you're helping keep plastic out of a landfill. Admittedly I did find the bamboo a bit weird at first as I was so used to holding a plastic brush but after a couple of uses it was completely fine and now I don’t think twice about it. These brushes do the job just as good as a plastic toothbrush. (Buy Here)

Plastic Cutlery and Straws 

If you’re somebody who is on the go a lot this might be one for you. I take lunch with me to uni every day and I soon realised that my university only supplies plastic throw away cutlery – something I now refuse to use. So, after a quick look on Amazon I came across this amazing bamboo cutlery set which comes in its own little fabric case so you can easily wrap it up and take it everywhere with you. The set includes the standard fork, knife and spoon and even a set of chopsticks, a metal straw and a straw cleaner. This is honestly one of the best purchases I have ever made and I don’t leave the house without it, you never know when it’ll come in handy (Buy Here). Plastic cutlery is a nightmare to use and after a couple bites of your food it usually snaps in half anyway. The European Commissions have considered plans to ban plastic cutlery by 2021 which is a great step forward!

In terms of straws, if you haven’t already seen the video of the turtle having a straw removed from its nostrils then it’s enough to put you off of them for life. You can watch it here

Coffee Cups 

If you’re someone who finds themselves at Starbucks or Costa on the daily then a great way to help the planet and reduce your plastic usage is purchasing a reusable coffee cup. Many people don’t realise that although coffee cups are made of paper they are lined with plastic or wax to stop the liquid from leaking meaning they can’t be recycled – and let’s not forget the plastic lids as well! Some coffee shops even offer money off to customers that bring their own coffee cups, such as Costa which will give you 25p off of your drink. There are many brands of reusable coffee cups but I stuck with the classic Keep Cup, which comes in a variety of colour and sizes. (Buy Here)

Food on the Go

The easiest way to reduce your plastic on the go is by preparing your own food. Almost everything included in a supermarket meal deal is packaged in plastic. As someone who used to purchase a meal deal almost every day the amount of plastic I was throwing away never even crossed my mind. Now I always make my own food which is also a lot cheaper and environmentally friendly. I actually purchased a food flask and I am obsessed with it. I usually make a batch of soup at the start of the week and re-heat it in the morning and it keeps it hot all day. I’ve also found it works great with pasta but soup is my preferred choice at the moment.  The food flask I opted for was the Thermos 470ml flask in matte black which also comes with a foldable stainless-steel spoon and the lid doubles as a small bowl. I would 100% recommend it to anyone and at £20 it doesn’t break the bank either. (Buy Here)

I was so shocked at all of the information I discovered while learning about plastic pollution and I found so many different ways to reduce my plastic consumption in my day to day life. I wrote this post in the hope I can make at least one person more aware of the issues our planet faces regarding plastics and each small change YOU make is a huge difference.  

Jordan x

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