The Plastic Crisis – Small Changes for a Big Impact

How to Reduce Your Plastic Footprint

Blue Planet II – all those amazing sea creatures, the pollution and the part we have all played in the unfolding global catastrophe kind of makes you ashamed to be human.

We’ve all seen the headlines about the huge environmental problems caused by single-use plastics. Governments and corporations have a responsibility to take action – but what can we do to cut down our personal plastic footprints? Making just a few small changes can have a big impact on the amount of plastic we use on a day-to-day basis.

1. Bring Your Own Shopping Bags

2. Carry a reusable bottle

3. Take a reusable coffee cup

4. Avoid excessive packaging

5. Buy bar soap, not liquid body wash

6. Say no to plastic straws

Simple Suggestion to Reduce Plastic Six Super Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic – do these now (if you’re not already..)

1. Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
Take your own cloth carrier bags to the shops (any shops!). Since the plastic bag charge was introduced in England, there’s been a massive drop in their use. Many of us are used to carrying an extra bag with us – if you still find it hard to remember, try a foldaway one that you can carry in your normal day bag. You could also consider using a reusable cloth bag or old fashioned steel lunch box to carry your lunch to work or school.

2. Carry a reusable bottle
In the UK we use millions of plastic bottles every year! Carrying a reusable bottle is a great way to cut your plastic use. Bottled water can be a sin when it comes to plastic waste, unless there is some contamination crisis that will require you to drink bottled water, you should give it up – so buy a reusable bottle and fill it up with tap water.

3. Take a reusable coffee cup
All of those coffee cups we drink out of are usually lined with polythylene which is a plastic. 2.5 Billion coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK – and less than 1 in 400 are recycled. Carry a reusable cup with you – some cafes even offer a small discount if you use your own cup. A good choice is a reusable steel or ceramic beverage container.

4. Avoid excessive packaging
In general, cardboard is the lesser of two evils when it comes to recycling as it is easier to recycle cardboard than plastic. Paper products tend to biodegrade more easily. Pick pasta in a box instead of a bag, or powder detergent in a box, these small changes will go a long way. Whether it’s making different choices in the supermarket or choosing a different place to shop, we can all try and cut down the plastic we buy. And as an added bonus, loose fruit and veg is often cheaper than pre-packaged alternatives!
-Go to the farmer’s market and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables (not packaged in plastic). Marlborough & Hungerford both have Market days
–Buy farm fresh eggs in reusable paper containers.
Get your milk delivered in bottles
-Use refill stations for detergents
-Reduce plastic-packed ready-meals

5. Buy bar soap, not liquid body wash – avoid microbeads
Be careful of what’s in your body wash, liquid gels and washes often contain micro plastics. In turn these micro plastics end up down our drains and are impossible to filter out in water treatment plants. The good news is the UK government has now placed a ban on microbeads! However there may still be products on the shelves, so check labels before you buy and avoid products containing the following plastics: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.

6. Say no to plastic straws
The huge amount of plastic being produced and wasted through straws is almost entirely unnecessary. Plastic straws are bad news for our oceans and beaches. Next time you order a drink, think about whether you need a straw – and if you don’t, just say no! You can also ask your local pub to stop adding straws to drinks and to offer paper straws instead. If you’re a fan of the straw consider putting your money where your mouth is and keep your own reusable metal straws in your bag instead.

Other Simple Suggestions For Easily Reducing Your Plastic Footprint

-Pass on disposable cutlery, consider carrying a spoon or fork (or even a spork!) in your bag or keeping cutlery in your desk at work.
-Consider switching to an environmentally friendly razor that allows you to replace the head and not the entire razor.
-Ditch the plastic cleaning pads (think of all those micro plastics being washed down the sink!). Use cloth rags instead for cleaning up around the house – bonus they’re machine washable.
-Compost your rubbish to reduce your use of plastic bin bags
-Don’t use air fresheners – light a scented candle or incense instead
-Use matches instead of plastic encased lighters
-Don’t use plastic cutting boards. Use wood or glass instead
-Give your pets cloth based toys – think traditional catnip mice and soft rag bones
-Buy CDs packaged in cardboard sleeves or buy your music online
-Give up chewing gum – gum is made of a material called polyisobutylene (that’s also used in the manufacture of inner tubes – gross!) Polyisobutylene is mixed with plasticisers and materials to make the gum mixture chewable. it’s not easily recycled (although some enterprising hipsters have tried), so consider giving it up.

Ready for the next step in reducing your plastic footprint? Aim to…

-Use rechargeable batteries to reduce buying batteries packaged in plastic.
-Don’t buy beverage bottles in plastic. Choose glass instead.
-Make your own bread or buy bread from bakeries that package in paper
-Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it!
-Buy food stuffs that are packaged in glass containers (pickles, peanut butter etc) and avoid the plastic jar options.
-Line small rubbish bins with paper bags instead of plastic
-Buy toilet paper that is wrapped in paper, not plastic
-Use stainless steel sip cups for kids
-Use real silverware for parties instead of plastic – second hand plates and platters are cheap, look fantastic and are re-useable!
-Use junk mail and other paper to stuff into big packages to post instead of bubble wrap or air filled plastic
-Make your own yogurt in glass jars. It’s very easy!

Go Extreme Green

If you’re committed here are some slightly more drastic options to combat personal plastic waste

-Clean with baking powder and vinegar instead of cleaners packaged in plastic
-Get your cheese from the deli and place it in your own container (glass or a plastic one that you already have!) or ask to have it wrapped in paper.
-Buy your meat from the deli and ask to have it wrapped in paper
-Package your leftovers in pyrex
-Bring your own containers to restaurants for takeaways
-Use bar soap to wash your dishes
-Try using a reusable menstrual cup or reusable pads
-Stop using deodorant or antiperspirant. Use natural alternatives or perfume in a glass bottle if you want a nice smell.
-Buy cloth nappies. Many great varieties are available these days. Real nappies are better for your baby and prevents a tonne of waste from going to landfill. In Wiltshire find out about the Wiltshire Real Nappy Campaign or to receive a FREE trial kit call 01380 725670

Recycling Plastic in Wiltshire

So what plastics can you put in those blue-lidded recycling bins? Wiltshire Council asks that plastics are empty, clean and squashed. Lids can be left on bottles. You can recycle Plastic bottles of any colour, including:
• Washing up liquid bottles
• Bleach bottles
• Laundry liquid and fabric conditioner bottles
• Cooking oil bottles
•  Drinks bottles
• Juice or squash bottles
• Milk and yoghurt drink bottles
• Handwash bottles
• Shampoo and conditioner bottles
Some ridged plastics such as containers, pots, packaging, toys and plastic garden furniture and Tetra Paks can be taken to household recycling centres.
In general the following cannot be taken in a Wiltshire Blue Recycling Bins and will likely end up in landfill or incinerated.
•All other plastics
•Cling film
•Carrier bags and bin liners
•Crisp packets
•Disposable drinks cups
•Food trays
•Plastic tubs
•Yoghurt pots
•Plastic packaging
•Plant pots
•Boxes with plastic windows, please remove the window first
•Foil-lined cardboard tubes (eg Pringles tubes)
•Tetra Paks
•Food and drink cartons