2018 was a big year for eco-friendliness. It saw Iceland’s (banned) palm oil advert go viral, we began to make switches to plastic free alternatives, restaurant chains switch to paper straws and supermarkets reduced their packaging. This movement was summed up in 2018’s word of the year. Collins Dictionary named “single-use” their word of the year after a four-fold increase in its usage since 2013.
Statistics for plastic consumption are shocking. Nearly half of the plastic ever produced has been made since 2000. It can then take up to 500 years for plastic items to decompose on landfill sites. It has also been recently estimated that between 5 and 14 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the world’s ocean from coastal regions each year. As the National Geographic has depicted, that equates to five plastic shopping bags of plastic rubbish stacked up on top of every foot of coastline on the planet.
It has long been knowledge that this has an incredibly dreadful impact of marine life as they consume or become trapped in the plastic waste in our oceans. But in recent years more and more research has demonstrated how this plastic is returning to its source: us. Tiny pieces of plastic are being consumed by humans in water and seafood. This naturally begs the question, what impact does this have on human health?
The best way to tackle the world’s growing plastic problem? Reduce it!
Every step we take to reduce our plastic waste counts. It doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming. As long as we are in this together, we can have a positive impact on the issue which has plagued our environment for years. After all, in the words of the supermarket giant, every little helps.
So here we are to run you through some of our favourite top tips on ways our Cosy Cottage family are looking to reduce our own plastic consumption in 2019. There are some statistics in there too that we found incredibly alarming and thought important to share.
1. Bring your own shopping bag
Plastic bag charges in British shops are set to double to 10p in 2020. Switch now and keep your pocket happy. In America, the average person uses and disposes of one plastic shopping bag for every day of the year. These 365 plastic bags can easily be swapped out for one or two durable and reusable fabric bags that can be used year after year. It’s a no brainer!
2. Carry a reusable water bottle
Nearly a million drinks bottles are sold around the world every MINUTE. In the UK each household purchases on average 480 drinks bottles but fail to recycle over half of these. Cut off the problem at the root and opt for a reusable water bottle. Try out this app for where your nearest free water station is https://refill.org.uk/about/. Another great way to save money.
3. Find plastic wrap alternatives
Each year here in the United Kingdom, we use around 1.2 billion metres of clingfilm. Try switching up to creating your own reusable cotton wrap or using glass jars to store foods in. If this is a stretch, switch to tin foil which can be recycled.
4. Bring your own coffee/tea cup
Disposable paper cups can contain 5% polyurethane meaning composting or recycling of these extremely difficult. In the UK alone, 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are binned every year and less than 1 per cent of those produced are recycled. While there is a call for the government to introduce a 25p “latte-levy” on all disposable coffee cups, we can each do our bit by investing in a reusable coffee cup. Some are even so leak-proof, you can pop them in your handbag without worry.
5. Return of your milkman/woman
The chinking of a milkman/woman’s glass bottles used to be common in British towns and cities but the rise of the supermarket and plastic bottled-milk has seen them disappear from the high street. But in recent years there has been a huge resurgence in their popularity. And all down to the plastic free movement.
6. Avoid disposable straws and cutlery
We are really pleased to see in many large supermarkets, a shift towards biodegradable wooden cutlery and paper straws. Carry around your own reusable spork and use metal straws at home to take this to the next level.
7. Skip the plastic produce bags
There is so much unnecessary packaging in supermarkets that it can be difficult to reduce our consumption. This year, we will be taking our own fabric or paper bags to the supermarket and pick loose vegetables up instead of the over packaged versions. If you spot lots of unnecessary packaging in stores this year, join the movement and tweet the @shop with #pointlessplastic to nudge them along.
8. Use biodegradable glitter
A craft day with the kids may involve more plastic than we first realise. Switching to biodegradable glitter means the cellulose fibres will the a matter of months, not tens of years, to break down. Keep an eye out for it on greetings cards, especially around Christmas, they can’t be recycled or thrown on the compost as paper can!
9. Bamboo toothbrushes
A growing trend in 2018 looking to expand into 2019. In the US each year, 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away. Bamboo alternatives take as short as 6 months to biodegrade.
10. Cleanse the house
Cleaning your house and your bodies don’t have to cost the environment. There are many natural alternatives to chemicals in plastic bottles when it comes to cleaning the house. Many detergents are not offered in handy refill packages with smaller amounts of plastic for those deeper cleans. And for cleaning yourself? We have to admit, solid soaps do seem to be the way forward! We've put together a Plastic & Palm Oil Free Starter Kit to set you up for the rest of the year. Take a closer look by clicking here.
Bonus: Take part in a beach clean
Fed up of seeing plastic on our seafronts and beaches? Why not join in with a beach clean. Check out https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/pitch-in-with-a-beach-clean or https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/events to find out when the next one is near you.
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