1Giving Up Plastic Bottles and using Plastic Alternatives

One of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the world with up to a staggering million bottles a minute being dumped into the oceans, plastic bottles have been identified as the number one sea-going scourges of our time and one of the fundamental causes of plastic pollution in the oceans. This is problem is only set to get worse with an increase of up to a trillion bottles being produced every year by 2021. We can only begin to consider Plastic Alternatives when we truly understand the scale of the problem. 

Humans use up to 20,000 plastic bottles every second and less than half of these bottles are recycled according to figures obtained in 2016. Aside from being utterly terrifying these figures reveal the scale of the problem, especially when you consider that instead of being recycled most of these bottles end up in landfill or in the ocean. With these massive amounts of plastic finding their way into the ocean experts already believes that micro-plastics are now finding their way into the human food chain.

The UK Government is exploring a number of options and looking at introducing a deposit scheme for plastic bottles that has been successful Scandinavia. Whether or not this will close the loop on the masses of plastic bottle waste that enters our seas through pollution remains to be seen.

And this environmental damage is for a product that we don’t even actually need. You can make a contribution immediately by putting a halt to the purchase of any plastic bottles or one time use drinks. Instead ask for tap water, take a reusable bottle with you everywhere to help reduce your plastic bottle consumption today.

2Reusable Shopping Bags – the perfect Plastic Alternatives

For decades plastic bags have been an easy convenient way to transport our shopping from supermarket to home. And we’ve all used as many plastic bags as we’re available and usually only once. Most people are familiar with having had bags stuffed under the sink having served there one-time-use purpose, however this needs to change to avoid turning Earth into planet plastic.

Plastic bags not only damage the marine ecosystem they also pose an enormous threat to marine life directly. Turtles mistake them for jellyfish and attempt to consume them blocking their digestive tract and leading to starvation.

And we all know plastic also takes a ton of time to decompose. In the order of several hundred years. Every bit of plastic thats ever been produced will still be in our environment in your grandchildren’s lifetime and their grandchildren’s time… and their grandchildren’s time. That one-time-use bottle, or plastic bag that you used to cut your shopping home from Tesco’s and then threw away will be in the Planetary environment for at least 500 years to come.

In an effort to reduce unnecessary plastic waste countries around the world are legislating to eliminate and reduce the use of one-time-use plastic bags.

In the UK alone, England’s plastic bag usage drops 85% since 5p charge introduced demonstrating how successful additional charging for one-time-use plastics can be and how ready people are to switch to plastic alternatives. People vote not only with their conscious, but also with their wallets. And this simple piece of legislation has effectively reduced plastic bag waste (from businesses) via consumers by a whopping 85%. We now need to introduce similar taxes for all one-time-use plastics ASAP. Its the planet at stake.

3Reusable Coffee (or Tea!) Cups

One of the biggest business successes in recent years has been the evolution of the humble Coffee shop. Starbucks has exploded from a local, trendy, downtown coffeehouse originating from the north-west corner of America in Seattle to spread around the world’s high streets and popular imagination as it seeks global domination. And this global empire has spawned a whole industry, a plethora of competing coffee shops which, with our insatiable demand for coffee have subsequently produced an insatiable demand for plastic lined coffee cups.

Just like plastic bottles and plastic bags, these one-time products are completely surplus to requirements and there are one-time-use plastic alternatives. There is no rational reason for us to keep one-time-use plastic products except for the convenience of using it and throwing it away. The alternative is to wash a reusable coffee cup, or ask the barrister to wash it for you…. when you think about it, plastic coffee cups are not really more convenient than the alternative. Its just hat we’ve become used to.

Currently there is debate over whether one time plastics should be removed from products such as coffee cups or plastic drinking cups, with manufacturers insisting that recycling facilities should be improved. However, improving recycling requires infrastructure development and is a long term solution which does not help to reduce the amount of plastic entering the environment right now. The best way to eliminate plastic use is, to eliminate it. And if we all work to do this we can make a difference. 

You can put an end to coffee cup pollution right now by buying a reusable coffee cup right now. Just don’t forget it on your morning commute via Starbucks!

4Buy Boxed Washing Powder – the plastic alternative to bottles and capsules

There are so many products that have been created with the intention of making our lives easier. But do they really make our lives easier? Or are they simply a way to sell us more stuff that we don’t really need?

For example we managed fine with washing powder that came in cardboard boxes. But product developers created liqui-tabs. Individual liquid tablets of washing liquid wrapped in plastic. So, despite there being zero evidence that liqui-tabs clean clothing more effectively, we all started buying plastic wrapped liqui-tabs, in plastic boxes. And to emphasise in spite of there being absolutely and categorically no scientific evidence that they clean our clothes better.

Additionally up to ONE BILLION empty plastic bottles, that once contained fabric softener, are now thrown away in the United States alone every year. Most of the large detergent companies provide washing powder versions of their products, available in cardboard boxes. So make the switch!

Cut your plastic down. Buy your powdered washing detergent in cardboard boxes.

5Buy a Really Pretty Soap Dish! (And use bars of soap instead of plastic bottles of hand wash…)

Another product, absolutely surplus to requirements, is liquid hand wash in plastic bottles (with pump action pumps – because it’s actually too much effort to roll around a bar of soap in your hand for 20 seconds) but actually soap has been around for thousands of years and is still available, in shops today, as a hand and body wash. Whereas as shower gel has been around for about 20 years.

In fact there are many different types of soaps available to suit all different types of skin. And there’s really no reason why we should not be able to use hand or body soap. Get yourself on down to LUSH or your nearest body shop equivalent. Buy a carton of soap for all your hygiene need instead of one time use pump-action plastic bottles.

6Ditto Point 5 (…for a plastic free alternative to bottles of shower gel)

But that’s kind of a step too far? Your skin is really sensitive? Well moisturising soap, such as Dove, is available instead of plastic bottles of shower gel. After all the planet is pretty sensitive too.

In fact ditto the above point for all your toiletries. Why not just go the whole hog and try ‘naked’ toiletries? UK Cosmetics company Lush has been championing a naked range of toiletries for a long time. You can find out more about it online and how to order. As more companies decide to opt for a plastic free future we should see the idea of ‘naked’ or reusable non-packaging becoming more and more mainstream.

7MICROBEADS – Identify The Sneaky Sources of Plastic (and discover the plastic alternatives!)

Fortunately countries are beginning to wake up to the environmental damage of micro-plastics, especially micro-beads. These tiny little plastic beads are less than one millimetres in length, which are used in a whole range of personal hygiene and beauty care products, such as facial or body scrubs and toothpastes. Again, like so much of the plastic we use, totally unnecessary for the efficacy of the product, where natural alternatives are available)

The UK is leading the way with one of the world’s toughest bans on microbeads which comes into force.

You can find out which other countries have banned the micro-bead at this fantastic resource: Beat the Bead which also contains a full product list country by country highlighting products which contain these tiny plastic particles.

And remember the products that you would not believe contain plastics in them. Wet wipes for instance. Plastic is used to retain the moisture, which is then usually flushed down the toilet and into our environment.

8Get Your Milk From the Milkman, where possible, in Reusable Glass Bottles

Although not everyone has access to regular milk deliveries in their area, especially if you live in a highly urbanised area or city centre location, its possible, if you do live in an area where there are regular milk deliveries, to consider taking advantage of the glass bottle delivery and collection service.

The Blue Planet II effect is seeing a huge upsurge in the demand for glass bottle milk delivery services, across the UK, including in London. With traditional dairies reporting a huge upsurge in interest, especially from the millennial generation interested in reducing plastic consumption in their lives and its impacts.

9Straws. Buy a plastic alternatives such as Cardboard Straws or Reusable Metal Straws

Plastic straws are, like so many other forms of plastic listed here, completely non-essential to our daily lives. We just do not need them. They are notoriously difficult to recycle and can cause huge damage to wildlife.

This shocking footage of a turtle with a plastic straw embedded in its face, demonstrates the pervasive and upsetting damage that our one-time-use plastic products can have on wildlife. After watching this you find it difficult to use a plastic straw again, knowing the impacts they can have on wildlife.

Ask for paper straw in the restaurant and, if they don’t stock them, ask them to. Failing that, think about whether you really need that sugary drink or that milkshake after all? Whats good for the planet, is good for you. And it will be considerably better for the environment, and for your health, to eliminate plastic straws all-together.

Manufacturers claim that banning plastic straws isn’t the answer, but of course they would this is their counter argument: the ban represents a threat to their bottom line. If people stop buying products with plastic straws in, then there profits will be at risk. Risking a company’s profits, or risking the health of the planet? It doesn’t seem like a logical point for debate but time and time again it is proved, the only way to change behaviours and to change impacts of those behaviours is to make the plastic choice either more expensive or to legislate against thee type pf products.   

It can be really difficult to make small everyday choices, especially when we’re used to what we like! But it’s also important for us to consider the other inhabitants of this planet and the impact that our throwaway culture has on them.

10Lobby Your Local Businesses, Council and Governments to Eliminate One-Time-Use Plastics from Society and campaign for plastic alternatives