How I have reduced the usage of plastic in the past 6 months

I’ve always been very environmentally conscious and I can very passionate about it. I’m not in any way an activist but I have strong beliefs that we are harming our planet and that we need to stop it and do more than we are currently doing. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m part of the problem and I know I don’t do everything I can to be more environmentally friendly. But in a highly globalised world, I feel like it’s becoming harder for the little guys like you and me to make BIG differences – unless we’re all together in it.

From recycling to making sure the car I chose wasn’t too harmful to the environment – trust me, I would buy an electric car if I could! – not wasting too much water, I’ve always tried to do my bit. But since the discovery of a whale that washed out into a beach in the Philippines that had ingested more thank 40kg worth of plastic, and a recent article I read on the NAT Geo blog which talked about biodegradable bags not actually degrading after being buried, I thought about writing about my recent decision of reducing the usage of plastic.

After a very interesting conversation with my housemate back in December, I decided to try and cut the use of single plastic as much as I could. We know most of it is not recyclable and it’s harming our ocean. Whilst in some instances it has been easy to cut the use of plastic, others I have struggled quite a lot. So here’s what I have been doing to reduce the usage of plastic:

Stopped the use of plastic bags

Instead of buying plastic shopping bags, I’ve been carrying material bags with me. Either for food shopping or clothes shopping (any shopping for that matter). Not only I saved a few quid not buying plastic bags, but I’ve also helped the planet. There are loads of places where you can buy material bags. They are quite strong as well, meaning they will last for ages! I’ve got a couple I use, but my favourite is this one I bought at the Christmas Market in Lisbon.

Stopped buying bottles of water

I don’t buy bottled water that often, as I am very happy to drink tap water. But going to the gym or even out for the day, I used to buy one which I would reuse until the bottle looked half decent. In December I bought a glass water bottle from Primark that I always carry with me wherever I go – avoiding buying a plastic water bottle, and then again, saving money. Even when I went home for Christmas I took the bottle with me and asked for it to be refiled in Starbucks at the airport. I have, in a couple of occasions forgot to bring my bottle with me which makes me extremely annoyed!

If you’re looking to replace your plastic bottles for a more eco-friendly bottle, have a look at these I found on Amazon!

Stopped using straws

Now this one is very very hard! A lot of Liverpool restaurants/coffee shops/bars have stopped the use of straws or swapped to an alternative. But many places still use them. Every chance I can I try not to use them and try to stop the bartender before they put one on my drink. Most times it’s impossible and I end up using them, as they will go to the bin either way. But many places now sell re-usable straws that you can take with you when you go out drinking or for a meal.

Reduced usage of plastic in my beauty products

Reducing usage of plastic in beauty products is a hard one! A lot comes packed in plastic bottles. From creams to toothpaste, you name it.

What I have done is trying to use products that come in recycled plastic bottles and in some instances, cut the usage of plastic. Lush is amazing for this, as most products you can buy by weight and pack it in a paper bag. I tried out their Aromaco deodorant bar, and for me, it worked amazingly. I don’t sweat a lot so it worked well, except when I went to the gym. The beauty of it, it’s all made of natural products so it actually doesn’t harm you. I also want to try their Toothy Tabs – if anyone has tried it please let me know!

I also swapped to soap instead of using shower gel. My mum bought me a soap + shower gel combo from a Brazilan brand we sell in Portugal – Boticario -that is very environmentally friendly. The plastic bottle of the shower gel was actually made of recycled plastic! Too bad they don’t sell their products in the UK!

Bottle of NativaSPA shower gel
This shower gel smells amazing! The company is very sustainable and cruelty-free too!

Avoided buying food wrapped in plastic

Now, this one is by far the hardest thing I found in regards to stopping using plastic and it frustrates the hell out of me! Everything comes wrapped in plastic – even freaking broccoli. And if it doesn’t come wrapped, it’s actually more expensive than the packed product. (WTF!)

I understand some products have to be wrapped in plastic for quality purposes, but 2 things:

  1. Why can’t they be wrapped in plastic that is recyclable?
  2. Some fruit and veg definitely come wrapped in unnecessary plastic!

My stance on this is that supermarkets could do so much more! Let people buy per kg instead of all packed up. As a single person, I buy food for myself and often have to throw veg away because I needed one courgette and they only sell it in packs of 3. Which means they go off before I have the chance to use it so I ended up wasting food.

Shopping cart in Asda with veg wrapped in too much plastic

My shopping cart a few months ago in Asda. Really struggled to get veg that wasn’t wrapped in plastic.

For example, 3 packed peppers in Tesco are normally £1, but if you want to buy individual ones that aren’t wrapped it costs you £0.50-0.60. Ridiculous!

What I think it should be done

I’m no expert in this, but I think a lot more could and should be done in terms of reducing the usage of plastic. Don’t even get me started on other ways of helping the environment.

  1. Supermarkets need to find ways of reducing their usage of plastic and using more recyclable and recycled plastic.
  2. Brands (all for that matter) should push for more recyclable and recycled package on their products (either plastic or cardboard).
  3. There should be more incentives from the Government and local councils to increase the re-usage of plastics and the plastics that can be recycled (still baffles me how a yoghurt pot can be recycled in some councils but not in others)
  4. There should be more recycled bins in town centres and shopping centres. Let’s change the one bin fits all mentality and get more people to recycle and re-use.

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