How To Live With Less Plastic In 2019 | Plastic Oceans UK
It can be difficult to cut plastic out of your life, so we've pulled together key resolutions and steps to take for a greener lifestyle
How to live with less plastic in 2019
Resolutions for a greener you
The 5 Rs of the waste hierarchy
Vowing to go plastic-free outright is tempting, but it’s important to be realistic!
You are more likely to succeed by tackling your plastic footprint in small steps and embedding new habits bit by bit.
To help you incorporate these habits into your daily life, we've pulled together resolutions for you that cover each of the five R’s of the waste hierarchy.
Focus on what you can REDUCE
Do a plastic use audit in your home - take it room by room!
Look in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and ask yourself:
- How many plastic products am I using in here?
- What types are these?
- Can I reduce these single use plastics?
- Do these products have alternatives?
By running this mini reduction programme, you can decide which products are essentials. This will help you minimise your intake and make a big difference over time.
For example buying in bulk or using a metal razor instead of disposable. Make a spreadsheet or a chart to track your usage and check back in later to see how well you have done.
Think creatively about what you can repurpose
Now the home audit is complete, work out which items you can reuse and repurpose.
Here are a few ideas to get you inspired.
Old jars can be used to store grains, hold stationery, grow herbs and plants or hold a packed lunch.
Empty bottles can be repurposed into soap dispensers. Fill it up and screw on an old soap lid!
Finished with your toothbrush? Keep it for household cleaning. It’s useful for those hard places to reach.
For more inspiration
Pinterest is a great place to find creative ways to upcycle plastic products.
You can even transform ice cream containers into a letter box - see here!
Say no and choose alternatives
Certain plastic items we just don’t need. Yet they creep their way into our daily lives.
An easy way to cut your plastic consumption is to refuse certain products.
Here are five places to start.
1. Plastic bags
1.75 billion plastic bags were used in the UK alone from 2017-2018. Opt for a reusable canvas bag over a ‘Bag for Life’. Why? These have become the new single use bag - they use more plastic and are causing more waste.
When released, they will probably end up in the rivers or seas and can be ingested by turtles and seabirds.
3. Plastic cutlery
Carry your own reusable cutlery with you. You can find cutlery with carry cases by searching for zero waste. These are perfect for your lunch and whilst on-the-go.
4. Plastic-wrapped magazines
Many magazines and papers come in
plastic wrapping. Can you read these online instead?
5. Plastic straws
These are NOT yet banned despite many campaigns last year. In bars which still serve these, ask for your drink without one or remove it on arrival. This act of protest will help incite policy change. Avoid plastic stirrers too.
Three tips for getting it right
Recycling is important to keep materials in the loop, but there is work to be done to help make this simpler and more effective.
Confusion over labelling regarding recyclability, the large number of plastic types and the difficulty in separating them and a system which is not harmonised leads to contamination.
1. Rules vary in different councils!
Do you want to find out what you can put in your recycling at home? Recycle Now takes your postcode and tells you what items your Local Council accepts. Check out the site now!
2. Beware of the Mobius Loop
Don’t be fooled, this does not mean it can be recycled or has been recycled. Moves are afoot to simplify the messaging - this cannot come soon enough! You need to find out from your local collection system.
3. Wash it and Squash it!
This is good advice from industry experts.
Why? It prevents food residue contamination spreading onto other materials such as paper as they all go through the separation system. Contamination can lead to rejection of recyclates.
The truth about compostables
The labels ‘compostable’ and ‘biodegradable’ are often mistakenly thought of as interchangeable. They are not! BEWARE! Here's what you need to know.
What's the composting process?
Bacteria digest compostable plastic items and turn it into compost.
What’s an example of a compostable plastic item?
Eg. A ‘compostable’ plastic bag. But it must meet certain requirements to earn it’s label. It can’t be toxic to worms, it must support plant life.
What can your council tell you?
Your council can advise whether to put compostables with your green waste. Most need high temperatures to break down, so check with your council before putting these into your compost waste stream.
What about home composts?
Some compostables can be home composted. But they will be labelled if so.
Can compostables be recycled?
NO! Don’t put them into recycling, they cannot be recycled the same way as non-biodegradable plastics.
Can biodegradable plastics be recycled?
Like compostables: they DO NOT mix with recyclables. They are usually not suitable for the compost pile and belong in the general waste bin. However, they will be labelled on the chance they can be composted.