In case you weren’t aware, this month has been designated Plastic Free July – a brilliant initiative highlighting awareness about the dangers of plastic and what we, as consumers, can do to help keep plastic use out of our daily lives.
Plastic Free July is a major initiative by the Plastic Free Foundation, a not-for-profit charity set up in Australia in 2017, which is working towards global plastic-free waste.
Today, the Foundation is one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world. As an example, in 2020, it is estimated that 326 million people around the world participated in the Plastic Free July campaign – with plenty continuing with their efforts throughout the rest of the year and not only for that calendar month.
And it’s clearly making a substantial impact. An IPSOS survey conducted into the impact of the Plastic Free July Challenge from 2018, revealed that participants have:
- cut their household waste and recycling by 21kg per person per year (almost 5%)
- contributed to a total saving of 940 million kg of plastic waste each year
- 85% of those taking part have made long-term lifestyle changes to keep plastic use to a minimum
What you can do to reduce your use of Plastic
In previous blogs, we have highlighted the importance of binning plastic water bottles and using alternative containers, such as glass or metal. You can also save money on buying water, by having your own filtered water system installed at home.
In addition, there are loads of other steps you can take and below, we have highlighted 7 tips to help keep plastic waste to a minimum.
- Stay away from single use plastic Bathroom Product containers
Cast an eye around and you’ll probably notice plenty of plastic bottles and containers lurking on shelves, in cabinets or in cupboards under the sink. These can be easily eliminated.
Today, a number of companies are working towards removing excess plastic from their packing materials. Sometimes, they may even be provided in a simple cardboard box. Another option is to take an empty plastic bottle and refill your bathroom essentials at a bulk goods store.
Alternatively, why not have a go at creating your own personal care and beauty products! The internet provides a wealth of recipes and tutorials for products like shower gels, shampoos, lotions – even toothpaste – which you may find are exactly to your taste and cheaper than the big-name brands. It will also reduce your use of plastic.
2. Swap liquid Soap for Bars of Soap
Whilst shower gels are extremely popular these days, they are generally sold in plastic containers. One way to reduce your single-use plastic consumption of these products, is to opt for bars of soap. Soap can be bought without plastic packaging, especially if you go to health shops and those specialising in organic products.
Be mindful, however, that the soap you are buying doesn’t contain palm oil, which is a contributor to deforestation and distinctly unfriendly on the environment.
3. Take away coffee cups – bring your own
If you are a fan of Starbucks, Costa Coffee or your local barista, instead of using one of their take-out plastic cups, be bold and take your own re-usable container. There are plenty of environmentally friendly coffee cups that you can buy. Or drink in and enjoy your coffee from a proper ceramic cup. Or resist the temptation to frequent coffee shops, whenever you don’t have your own reusable receptacle with you!
4. Avoid shopping for pre-packaged food
When you make your trip to the supermarket for your regular weekly shop, avoid pre-packaged foods as much as possible. The shelves are stacked with products packaged in plastic – from meat and fish to snacks, cereals and drinks. The closer you look, the more plastic you’ll see!
Opting for bulk food, or items that are sold loose, offers a practical, plastic-free solution. Where you can, stock up in bulk food stores, but wherever you shop, avoid single-use plastic containers and opt for paper bags instead.
5. Use plastic free toothbrushes and toothpaste
When it comes to dental care, increasing numbers of people are choosing toothbrushes that are made from sustainable, compostable materials, like bamboo. That said, the bristles may still be plastic, so these will need to be cut off before the handle can be composted. Buying a toothbrush with a replaceable head will remove the need to use new plastic toothbrushes every few months.
As for the toothpaste itself, today, many health food and organic stores sell plastic-free alternatives. If you want to go a step further, you could also check online and concoct your own toothpaste recipe!
6. Celebrate without Balloons and plastic-free decorations
By using a spot of ingenuity, it’s actually quite easy to plan a party or celebration – without resorting to balloons or other harmful single-use plastics. Items such as bunting and tassles make effective decorations and can be used repeatedly. It could save you money, too! Before you are tempted to buy balloons etc, why not check with friends and neighbours to see if they’ve got anything stored away in the cupboard that could come in handy.
Crafting is also very much in vogue these days, so why not get inspired and make your own decorations, perhaps with old fabrics and paper you have stored away. You Tube can provide some ingenious ideas and ‘how-to’ videos, to show you the ropes. There are also groups on social media, like Buy Nothing, who can assist with decorations. What’s more, it can be fun and far less expensive to make your own decorations (plastic free, of course!).
7. If you can, buy less stuff wrapped in plastic
Where possible, try to avoid buying disposable items that are packaged in plastic. From anywhere – not just the food stores. It isn’t always straightforward – and sometimes, for the sake of convenience, it’s easy to forget.
Select products with either minimal plastic coverings or where there are paper or cardboard-packaged alternatives. For reusable products, it’s better to purchase something that’s designed to last as long as possible or that will only ever be a one-off purchase. The golden rule is that for anything that regularly needs replacing, aim to buy it in packaging that isn’t plastic.
As one of the leading water softener companies in the south of England with particular focus on West and East Sussex, Hampshire, we fully endorse Plastic Free July and the on-going campaign about refusing to use single use plastic items. To learn more about the Plastics Free Foundation and how you can get actively involved, go to Plastic Free July – Be Part of the Solution