Shopping can sometimes feel like going plastic-free is a distant fantasy. Recent images of face masks and gloves washed up on beaches remind us of damage caused by single-use plastics.
But there are many benefits to plastic. It is tough, strong, cheap, and provides good protection. The trouble with plastic is that it does not decompose. If Henry VIII, King of England from 1491 to 1547, had bought the odd plastic water bottle, his single-use plastic packaging would only just have degraded! Every bit of plastic ever made is still around unless it’s incinerated.
The good news is that some examples of ‘better plastics’ are widely recyclable and made from recycled material, although these can be quite hard to find. Many more plastic-free or low plastic solutions are appearing, from veg boxes to bakeries, zero waste shops, and local markets.
So Plastic Free July is an excellent time to take stock of our plastic use, and while going ‘Plastic free’ might feel a little over-ambitious, finding steps to reduce plastic usage can be straightforward. Once you’ve found the steps for you, you can make them part of your lifestyle.
Plastic pollution is an environmental issue we cover in Giki Zero, which helps everyone to think carbon and cut carbon. Whether you’re just starting or running your sustainability programme at work, there is always something more we can do.
Ideas to get started
Spring clean your bathroom
The most popular plastic busting steps in Giki Zero today is all about the bathroom. You can switch from shower gel to soap or wash your hair with a bar of shampoo. Each of these steps is easy to do, helps reduce plastic waste, and can save money.
Try a switch to glass bottles for your milk this means no more waste from plastic milk cartons, and if you have a local milkman, it comes straight to your door.
Try shopping at your nearest market or farm shop. Usually, it is much easier to avoid plastic here than in a big supermarket. It helps support local businesses too.
And if you’re looking for a surprise, try to buy sustainable fish. Not only is this excellent for helping to preserve fish stocks and balance within our oceans, but a lot of plastic waste in the ocean is discarded fishing gear, especially the larger pieces. Buying fish sourced sustainably helps avoid this.
Goodbye to plastic water bottles
And of course, one of the easiest steps is to avoid single-use plastic water bottles. A bottle of water may take just seconds to drink but will take 450 years to decompose. And in the UK alone, we buy enough plastic water bottles to wrap around the entire Earth’s circumference every week! What better reason is there to opt for a reusable water bottle that can save money too!