How to Reduce Plastic Waste– 20 Simple Steps

On this page we look at the importance of using less plastic in our everyday life and provide possible ways to reduce plastic use as a responsible person.

Finding ways of how to reduce plastic waste has become more and more popular recently with the growing concern for environmental issues and press coverage. More people are becoming aware of the impact of plastic waste on the environment and looking for ways to reduce plastic use as a responsible person, with some people even attempting a life without plastic. We have researched different ways of how to use less plastic and have detailed some small steps you can take to reduce plastic waste. So not quite a Life without plastic but at least we are heading in the right direction!

Why find ways to reduce plastic use

Surprisingly not all plastics can be recycled! Some plastic packaging consists of more than one polymer type making it more difficult and costly to recycle. Plastic products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon fall into the category of plastics that are often hard and therefore costly to recycle.

A lot of people have also become concerned with the environmental impact of the processes used in plastic recycling. Pointing out that as the use of energy is much higher for recycling plastic than that of recycling paper or glass. Resulting in the reasoning of if the best option would be to cut out plastic all together, as a result some are trying to live a Life without plastic.

It is no surprise then why there is an ever increasing drive from consumers and government to reduce the use of plastic in an attempt to cut down on plastic waste.

From our research we have come up with 20 simple but effective ways to reduce plastic use as a responsible person, to help you take small but significant steps to use less plastic and create less plastic waste.

20 Simple but significant tips of how to reduce plastic waste

1. Get your own water bottle and refill for Free!

It’s a no brainer!!! Give up plastic bottled water! They are expensive and do not guarantee better quality water, as a lot of bottled water is simply just filtered tap water! Also some have concerns that the plastic could be leaching chemicals into the water as well.

Why not get hold of your own insulated water bottle, and not only save money on free refills but keep your water cooler for longer!

Free Refills??? Yes the UK government and many organisation are pushing for free water refills across the UK.  There is already a large number of participating places. Find these on the free Refill app https://www.refill.org.uk/get-the-refill-app or at http://tapwater.org/iphone

2. Re-use, recycle and even sell your plastic bags

Reuse – Whether you choose a bag for life, reusable canvas totes, your own backpack, or one of our favourites the foldable shopping bag (due to its compactness and easiness to keep with you). Use whatever works for you but remember to reuse!

Recycle A lot of people in the UK still do not realise that plastic bags including bread bags (used for most sliced bread) can actually be recycled!  So keep on using them until they break and then recycle them. Most supermarkets and recycling points will have plastic bag recycling points, this is for plastic bags that you can basically stretch. To find out more about local plastic bag recycling points check out https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/plastic-film

3. Get your own reusable cup and save money on your hot drinks!

Most people do not know that a lot of coffee shops will offer a discount on drinks if you use your own re-useable cup. The discount normally averages between 20p and 50p amongst retailers. Below are just a few known stores offering this, but it’s worth asking at any others! (Prices will change from time to time across stores)

  • Starbucks – 30p off
  • Costa – 25p  off
  • Pret – 50p off
  • Leon – 30p off
  • Paul – 25p off
  • Greggs – 20p off
  • Caffè Nero – double stamps (you’ll get 2 loyally card stamps instead of one)
  • Crosstown Doughnuts – 20p off
  • Ground espresso bars – 50p off

Most of the coffee shops listed sell their own branded re-useable for about £10, although why not consider getting an unbranded reusable travel mug in a colour and design you prefer online!

4. Replace cling film with re-usable wraps!

Stop using cling film and foil for your packed lunch and instead opt for Beeswax and soy wax reusable wraps. These are not only reusable but also biodegradable.

5. Consider buying more to save on packaging!

If you can afford it and have the space to store it, then you may notice that buying in larger quantities often does reduce the overall packaging per item or weight. This often also works out cheaper.

6. Switch plastic bottled shower gel for a bar of soap!

Generally speaking a bar of soap will last longer, and normally work out cheaper! Make sure you end up buying ones in biodegradable or recyclable packaging.

7. Switch plastic bottled shampoo for a shampoo bar!

Another great but simple step is to switch from bottled shampoo to shampoo bars. This has already proven to be a massive hit among many, with some saying that this actually does save money.

8. Switch plastic bottled hair conditioner for a conditioner bar!

Again don’t forget to make the switch from bottled conditioner to conditioner bars.

9. Say no to plastic drinking straws!

Plastic drinking straws are a significant contributor to plastic waste. If you are at a restaurant and don’t need to use a straw, then just tell them when ordering. If you do need a straw then some places will have biodegradable straws.

If you use straws at home why not look at using stainless steel straws which are both reusable and dishwasher safe (although you may still want to rinse them after)

10. Don’t us plastic cutlery, carry your own!

Most of us do not like eating with plastic cutlery anyway! So why not scrap it altogether and take a set with you. If you are uncomfortable with carrying metal knife, folks and spoons around with you then why not consider a bamboo set.

11. Use Natural Rubber Gloves!

If and when you need to buy rubber gloves, opt for gloves that are plastic free and better for the environment. Check out the “if you care range” for a great environmentally friendly and plastic free option.

12. When ordering pizza, say “no” to the little plastic “table”!

That little plastic table in the middle of the pizza box is called a “package saver.” It is supposed to keep the cheese from sticking to the top of the pizza box, but rarely does! When ordering pizza just ask for the pizza company to not put the little white plastic thing in the middle of the pizza!

13. Go plastic free with your bread!

Whilst these plastic bags can be recycled as detailed in point 2.  Why not cut out the plastic bag altogether and buy fresh bread that comes in either a paper bag or with no bag.

As plastic bread bags are only used to keep sliced bread as airtight as possible to keep them fresh longer. Why not learn a lesson from the good old days. Buy the bread unsliced, keep it in a cloth bag and place it in an airtight container when home!

14. Choose milk in returnable glass bottles!

You may not realise but many areas still do have local dairies that provide milk in returnable glass bottles rather than plastic or plastic-coated cardboard (That’s right, all cardboard milk containers are coated both inside and out with plastic)

So why not opt back to the milk in glass bottles being delivered to your door. Whilst this is usually more expensive than buying milk in plastic bottles, think about the environment and the reduction in plastic waste!

15. Choose toilet paper that’s not packaged in plastic!

Toilet paper often comes packaged in plastic wrapping to keep the toilet paper clean, however this often cannot be recycled. Look for brands such as Who Gives a Crap which comes packaged in paper-wrapped rolls. So plastic free! The who gives a crap company really do care. They offer a choice of recycled paper or organic bamboo option. The company also gives away 50% of its profits to build toilets and sanitation in developing countries! Our staff found the deluxe paper is well worth the extra money!

16. Use plastic-free feminine hygiene products!

Obviously this suggestion will only be useful for females. Whilst disposable single use hygiene products are easy, most of them are not sustainable. Why not look for a more sustainable version such as NatraCare disposable products – The tampons are 100% certified organic, are made from unbleached cotton and come either made with or without biodegradable card applicators. The pads and liners are also plastic free and compostable.

The other alternative is to go completely green with no disposable waste by using washable re-usable pads!

17. Avoid getting a receipt when you can!

Some receipts are coated in a thin layer of plastic that makes them unrecyclable, so why not cut down on or cut out receipts all together!

18. Avoid fruit and veg with plastic wrapping!

A lot of fruit and veg is now wrapped in plastic, to keep it fresh longer and allow a longer distribution process to the end shop. However you can still find fresh fruit and veg that is not wrapped in plastic. Buy these instead!  Also try not to use the small plastic bags in the fruit and veg section if it can be avoided (although these can be recycled as explained in point 2). If you do really need a bag, perhaps look for one of the paper bags that are designed for mushrooms.

19. Review your Razor!

Disposable razors remain a very popular razor option, however for disposable razors to be recycled, they first need the blade removed, often resulting in these not being recycled due to the cost outweighing the benefit in the recycling plant.

Razors with replaceable blades provide a slightly better option as you only end up throwing the small blade cartridge rather than the whole razor, a good alternative to disposable razors.

Straight razors have to be acknowledge as the most environmentally friendly option however, as you do not have any parts to throw away. These do whoever take a bit more skill and care, so best to avoid shaving when young children running around!

20. Switch to cloth flannels or reusable wipes!

Wipes are useful for a lot of things, whether it is baby wipes, surface wipes or the cleansing wipes. Most of these wipes not only come packaged in plastic packaging but a lot still are not biodegradable.

Why not consider switching to cloth reusable wipes. Which after the initial cost becomes a much cheaper and greener option!

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