The Bigger Picture: 5 ways to quickly reduce your plastic waste

The Bigger Picture: 5 ways to quickly reduce your plastic waste

With Blue Planet II receiving the ‘Impact’ award at the NTAs last week, we were all reminded of the negative effect plastic is having on our world. And, whether it was the sight of a baby sperm whale carrying a plastic bucket, a turtle entangled in a plastic sack, or something different altogether, the big brands seem to be taking notice and making changes.

Only this month, Evian announced that, by 2025, all of its bottles will be made of 100% recycled plastic. Supermarket chain, Iceland, also vowed to drastically reduce, if not eliminate completely, its plastic packaging on own-label products. But how can we, as individuals, do our bit too? Here are 5 simple tips to get you started.

1. Remember those reusable bags

DEFRA data suggests that, since the 5p carrier bag charge came in, supermarkets have issued around 83% fewer bags. While this is a massive improvement, as a country, we are far from plastic bag free. So it’s time we stop making excuses about not remembering, and make sure we take our own bags to the supermarket. Pop them in the car boot, keep a foldaway one in your handbag, and spend those 5ps on something more important!

2. Change how you drink on the move

A morning coffee, water for the gym, a bottle of something fizzy for the train – there’s no escaping it, we’re a nation of drinkers on the go. But, with 2.5 billion coffee cups thrown away each year and only 1 in 400 recycled, our drinking habits are having a damaging effect on the environment. Luckily, there’s a solution – just carry your own reusable cup or bottle with you. Pret A Manger have just doubled their discount for bringing in your own cup, so your morning pick-me-up can be both green and easy on the wallet – double win!

3. Go straw-free

You know those colourful straws you drink out of once and then throw in the bin? They take hundreds of years to break down, and end up sitting, by the thousands, in another liquid – our oceans. Just take a look at The Evening Standard’s #LastStraw campaign, and you’ll see the damage these little bits of plastic are doing. Luckily, you’ll also see how successful this DEFRA-backed campaign is, with restaurants such as Bills and Itsu pledging to ban plastic straws. Go on, join in!

4. Be a wise shopper

This month, Lidl came under fire for selling peeled onions in plastic, and Marks & Spencer withdrew their cauliflower steak, after receiving criticism about the plastic packaging. This trend for pre-prepared, heavily packaged veg may be convenient for us, but it’s certainly not for the environment. So, when you’re shopping, be mindful of the choices you make – go for loose fruit and veg, pick pasta in a box rather than a bag, and just keep an eye on how much plastic is in your trolley!

5. Give up the gum

Chewing gum, great for the breath, terrible for the planet. From sticking it under the desk at school to spitting it out on the pavement, our country’s gum habits are in serious need of improvement. So much so that The Chewing Gum Action Group has started creating “gum forests” around the UK to tackle the issue. But, knowing that gum is plastic and impossible to recycle, perhaps it’s worth just giving it up altogether!