Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We’ve all heard it, and we all try to do our best when we can, but it can be hard to follow all the time.
Just think what would happen if we reduced our plastic waste to almost nothing. Oceans would be able to be cleared, recycling plants would no longer be overwhelmed, wildlife would thrive, and your conscious would feel a whole lot better.
Now we’re no environmental experts, but we have been trying out some ways to reduce our plastic waste on the daily. Although not all of the methods we tried out worked, here is our top 10 for reducing your plastic consumption & waste!
1) Refill water bottles
Say it louder for those in the back! Plastic bottles are one of the worst offenders in the plastic world. Over 80% of plastic bottles are never recycled, and they take over 700 years to dissolve. This means they’ll still be around when the current populations’ great great great great great great grandchildren are walking the Earth! We haven’t got anything from our great x6 grandparents, but we’d be pretty annoyed if it was a plastic bottle.
Refilling a water bottle is free – roughly 90% of the cost of water is the bottle it comes in, so you’ll save the planet and your bank account. Can’t find a refill station? No worries, check the refill.org website to see water stations near you, bring multiple reusable bottles if you know you won’t be near a water source for a while, or even ask a friend if they’re willing to share.
2) Pack a lunch
Buying lunch out can be a mine field of single use plastics. If you’re unsure whether food will be in plastic that is recyclable then pack one yourself! Our go to is a simple sarnie, and whatever we can fit in a tupperware box (cheese, crackers, fruit, you name it!) – but no cling film here please (bees wax wraps do a great job instead)!
Thankfully, if you’re walking around Ullswater, the Ullswater ‘Steamers’ have a free water refill station & their sandwiches come in fully recyclable packaging as well as being locally source & delivered by boat each morning – so no guilt here!
3) Bag for life
Carting around shopping or a hefty lunch can mean you run out of hands fairly quickly so a bag for life is a life saver (when you remember it). So far after the bag charge at supermarkets has been in place, the amount of bags we use has gone down 86% (source: gov.uk). Just make sure to bring your bag with you!
4) Do I need to use that?
Simply being aware that plastic is an issue and knowing what can and can’t be recycled can lead to the biggest behaviour changes. If you get into a habit of thinking “Do I need to use that?” or is there a plastic free alternative, or a recyclable one? You’ll surprise yourself with how often you can avoid a plastic purchase.
It doesn’t just stop there, disposal razors (certain brands now recycle used razor heads), plastic cutlery, baby wipes (yes they have lots of plastic in too), the list goes on! Just making the effort to be aware can be one of the best methods of reducing your plastic use.
5) Make sure it’s recyclable (before buying and after)
Not all products make it clear – and it’s hard to read the symbols. There’s a great little run
down of the symbols that can be found here. We recommend just scanning down the list to check if what you think each symbol means is actually correct – the Mobius loop often catches people out. Things with this symbol on just means the item could be capable of being recycled. Not that it has been, or will be accepted. It can also refer to the product inside the packaging and not the packaging itself.
6) Tell the company
Not sure why something isn’t recyclable? Tell the company! The more people giving feedback that they’d like to see a reusable/recyclable/biodegradable alternative, the more likely that things are to change. Kick up a fuss – don’t settle for something you’re not happy with.
7) Download documents to your phone like maps
Instead of buying maps and cumbersome leaflets or tickets that can easily be lost – download them to your phone or tablet! Saves ink, reduces plastic, and your bank account will thank you.
8) Get creative at home
Recycling doesn’t have to be doom and gloom – it can be a chance to get creative and feel smug that you’ve found a way to ‘cheat the system’ and discover the coveted ‘life hacks’.
There’s too many to list here, but to get you started why not cut your sponges in half? Or not use a sponge at all! There’s a gourd called a Loofah that once dried makes a great sponge – or use steel wool if dried veggies don’t strike your fancy.
You can now buy solid bars of shampoo and conditioner that we’ve tried and tested – and they are Lake District Estates Approved. Buy refills for your cleaning products – they cut down on packaging and they’re cheaper because you’re not paying for the bottle.
9) Wrap gifts with ribbon & save old wrapping paper to reuse
This one’s a minor point but makes a big difference. Apparently a lot of wrapping paper has plastic in it – and of course comes in that thin plastic that takes an age to just get through so you can start wrapping.
Don’t even get us started on sticky tape too. Trust us – try to use plastic free wrapping paper and secure it with some ribbon – it’ll look lovely and rustic, the recipient with love it, and you get to feel smug about saving the planet
10) Take it home
If you do get caught out and have to give in to plastic – it’s okay! Just make sure to take it home & recycle it if you can. We’re all human, just try to do your best.
We hope at least one of those top tips will come in handy for this year, and hopefully helps you cut down on how much single use plastic you use!