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Reducing your plastic consumption is a good first step to your eco/sustainable journey! The ones that I have listed below are all doable and shouldn’t be too expensive. One of the best things about making more eco-friendly choices is that it can often save you money.
Why should you reduce your plastic consumption?
Reducing your plastic consumption is so important, with just one of the reasons being that our oceans are full of plastic. Did you know that 8 million metric tons enter the ocean every year, on top of the 150 million metric tons that circulate our marine environments? So many habitats are ruined on top of millions of animal and plant lives that are lost.
It doesn’t matter if you are interested in science and whether you like animals or not, we rely on them. The oceans provide us with the air that we breathe, it gives us 50% of the oxygen we take in and stores more than 50 times the amount of carbon dioxide the atmosphere stores. We’ve hardly started discovering medicines in the ocean, by destroying them we could miss out on cures for future diseases.
Related: 5 devastating facts about our oceans
Sustainable ways to reduce your plastic consumption:
Use a travel mug
Bring your travel mug* with you whenever you leave the house – I sometimes find that I’m wanting a coffee but can’t have one because I’ve left my travel mug at home. Often coffee shops will give you money off for using your own mug. This is because you aren’t buying the plastic cup so will reduce their costs. Imagine if everyone did this, then no more single-use cups would be needed!
Prepare your own lunch
I understand that the easiest way to get your lunch is to buy a meal deal. However, preparing your own lunch is much better and it will save you money. The plastic consumption in a meal deal is crazy! There’s a plastic bag of crisps, a sandwich wrapped in plastic and a plastic bottle. Another idea is to batch cook your meals which would be much healthier and greener for the planet.
Say no to single-use plastic
I bring a tote bag with me everywhere I go, you never know when you are going to need one. If you don’t usually carry a tote bag, you can fold one into your purse. If you don’t have one, you can find lots of lovely designs on Etsy!
Something else to consider is buying loose vegetables. This can be hard if you don’t have a local greengrocer or a farm shop. There are veg boxes which you could buy such as Riverside Veg, Abel & Cole etc. If you live locally in Ringwood in Dorset, I highly recommend Four Acre Farm (where I did my placement).
There are quite a lot of refill shops around now, so you could start getting refills for products and/or food items. With the cost of living increasing, I have had to stop going to refill stores because the one I went to was too expensive. Some of them are the same cost as buying a packet. An alternative is to buy food in bulk. I bought a 3kg bag of pasta from Asda for about £3. I did this a few months ago, and I tend to use about 500g a month so it should last about 6 months. Obviously, you can’t do this for food that goes off but pasta and rice will be okay.
Make your own cleaning products
You can make a really good toilet cleaner with as few as 3 ingredients:
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1/2 cup of baking powder
- A few drops of essential oil – my favourite is lavender
There are lots of other natural cleaning products that you can make at home, such as sink cleaner, glass cleaner etc.
Shop at local shops/small businesses
Another method of reducing your plastic consumption is to shop local and from small businesses. Shopping local reduces the shipping miles, and you don’t need the packaging that comes with a parcel. As the awareness of sustainability grows, more small businesses are looking to use sustainable materials/ingredients from ethical sources. Sustainable materials shouldn’t be made with plastic, and the products should be made to order, rather than selling them in bulk.
Switch to a bar of soap, shampoo/conditioner
One of my favourite sustainable swaps is from liquid soap to a bar of soap. Luckily my mum makes soap, so I get them for free! And I also help her design them which is fun. Our latest design is a Neapolitan theme, and we also made black and white cats which are my favourite. A soap bar also feels so much nicer on your skin, and they have much more natural ingredients that are kind to your skin. You could also try a shampoo or conditioner bar, though they have never really agreed with my hair.
Best wishes C x