Single-use plastic is a trending topic at the moment because us humans are starting to realise the extent of our addiction to disposables and the terrible impact it is having on our planet.
The popular BBC 1 series Blue Planet 2, which aired at the end of last year, really helped British viewers understand the impact of human activity on marine life in particular. The final episode showed scenes of albatross parents unknowingly feeding their chicks plastic instead of real food, alongside other horrifying plastic-based events that should never have happened in nature.
Blue Planet presenter, Sir David Attenborough, left us all with this poignant message:
So, where do you start if you are wanting to lessen your impact on the planet and its animals? Cutting down on or eliminating single-use plastic altogether is a great place to begin.
This is easier said than done unfortunately at the moment, but it’s not impossible — it just requires a little more planning. If your usual fruit and vegetable supplier only sells produce wrapped in plastic, it’s time to vote with your money and shop elsewhere. Local markets are usually the best option — not only will your food be unpackaged, but it will probably be fresher and cheaper, too.
The majority of people in the UK still use plastic toothbrushes and regular toothpaste to brush their teeth. If you have specific oral needs, check with your dentist first, but otherwise you could swap to a bamboo toothbrush (which can be composted after use), and toothpaste tablets, which are usually sold in a recyclable tub.
Over the years, we’ve all become obsessed with spring and mineral water, however this is usually sold in plastic bottles. A simple swap is to invest in a reusable bottle and refill it from the tap — not only will you be reducing the number of plastic bottles you use, but you’ll be saving a load of money, too. Don't worry — you'll soon adjust to the taste.
A bar of soap may seem old-fashioned, however it is currently making a comeback as people switch from plastic bottles of shower gel and hand soap back to solid soap — often packaged in a simple piece of paper, which can then be recycled. Once you start looking into it, you’ll find there are thousands of soaps to choose from — giving you a chance to find your new favourite scent. Don’t be worried about them being drying for your skin either — most shower gels and liquid soaps dry your skin out far more than bar soap, thanks to ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
Swerve the plastic bag charge when shopping and therefore reduce demand by buying and using your own reusable shopping bags instead. These could be cotton bags, or even ‘bags for life’, which are made of plastic but are built to last — and once they do fall apart, they are replaced free of charge by the retailer you bought them from.