This month is Plastic Free July, an initiative to help cut plastic pollution across the globe. Currently, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes and then thrown away, which is wreaking havoc on our oceans, ecosystems and wildlife. With that in mind, here we share some top tips on how to stay plastic-free while out and about.
10 Tips To Go Plastic-Free On The Move
Quick Eco-Facts & Tips
- You will use either five menstrual cups or 12,000 disposable menstrual products in your lifetime (A Waste Free World)
- One bamboo toothbrush = four plastic toothbrushes (Charlie Fiest)
- One cloth tote bag = 170 single-use shopping bags (Charlie Fiest)
- One reusable coffee cup = 500 single-use coffee cups (Charlie Fiest)
- Polyester takes 20 to 200 years to decompose in a landfill (Charlie Fiest)
- Soft plastics (such as straws and the soft film from fruit punnets) will pollute for 200 years
- Plastic bags take 500 to 1000 years to break down
- Plastic bottles take 70 to 450 years to break down
10 Tips To Go Plastic-Free On The Move
1. Reusable Water Bottles
Always carry a reusable water bottle with you, wherever you go. Why? Because a plastic bottle (for juice, water or energy drinks, for example) will be used for an average of three minutes but will remain on the planet for approximately 450 years, releasing harmful chemicals into the soil, or falling into the sea and emitting micro-plastics which can end up in our own bodies. Most restaurants and cafés will refill your reusable bottle for you if you ask. Plus, if you’re travelling abroad, many airports (such as London Luton) have taps with fresh water specifically implemented for the refilling of water bottles.
2. Tote Bags
Always carry a tote bag. This is an important one for those who cook for themselves, and for anyone travelling abroad. Bring a tote bag or two when going on holiday so that when shopping you have somewhere to put all your goodies – as opposed to using a plastic bag.
Bring your own tupperware to pick up takeaways. I discovered this myself a while back: if you bring your own tupperware when picking up a take-away (after calling to let them know beforehand), the restaurant will most likely pack it with your order, while some places will even take money off the bill. Try the Adoni Leak Resistant Lunch Box, £18, asliceofgreen.co.uk
4. Reusable Straws
Bring your own straw. Planning a picnic? Bring your own straw to avoid using single-use plastic. These make a great present for eco-friendly friends and family, too.
5. Reusable Coffee Cup
Carry a reusable cup for hot drinks. Avoid drinking from single-use coffee cups by investing in your own reusable cup. You’ll often be charged less for your drink, plus there are tons of beautifully designed coffee cups, such as those from Ecoffee Cup and Keep Cup. If your main quarm about purchasing a reusable cup is that you don’t want to carry it around all day, get a collapsible one like the below from Stojo.
6. Reusable Cutlery
Carry your own cutlery. Grabbing lunch on the go? Whole Foods has biodegradable cutlery and with the single-use plastic ban coming into effect in October 2023, places have started offering unpleasant single-use wooden cutlery instead. Carry your own handy eco-friendly cutlery set so that you’re always prepped for food-to-go.
7. Refuse Plastic
Request no plastic. Booking a hotel or renting a holiday home? Go plastic free whilst travelling by contacting the hotel or host before arriving and requesting that no plastic products (i.e. shampoos and body lotions) be inside the room.
8. Smoke Smarter
If quitting isn’t an option, smoke smarter. The filters on cigarettes (made of plastic), can take up to 10 years to decompose. Not only are these off-putting to see outdoors and on beaches, but they also pose a danger to animals and young children. Switch to an electronic cigarette from blu, who can recycle your old one when you’re done with it, and when sending a product, will only use cardboard packaging. blu.com
9. Be prepared
Be prepared to shop sustainably. Life can be busy, but if you take a little time to research and prepare waste-free options, avoiding plastic on-the-go can be much easier than you think. Get to know the zero-waste shops in your local area, or those mainstream stores that are offering plastic-free produce. See our London picks here.
10. Reusable Food Wraps
One of the best ways to save money, avoid buying single-use plastic and to eat healthy is to bring your own meals to work. Rather than using cling film (of which ‘more than 1.2 billion metres, equating to 745,000 miles of cling film, is used by households across Britain every year – enough to go around the circumference of the world 30 times over’, according to beebeewraps.com), use a natural alternative which can be reused. The same thing can be said for makeup wipes – opt for washable pads instead.