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10 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Waste

Blog21 July 2021

It’s time to go greener and reduce your plastic waste! Why not take part in Plastic Free July? It’s a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution, meaning we can have cleaner streets, oceans and communities. 

Not only can you make some sustainable swaps, but you can also further reduce your carbon footprint by making yourself accountable for your plastic waste.

From carrying your own cutlery through to avoiding buying plastic-wrapped goods, there are many simple tricks to help reduce your plastic consumption. Reduce, reuse, rethink and recycle! The four ‘Rs’ are an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint; rethink the ways you contribute to plastic pollution, reuse plastic containers for food storage, reduce your plastic use and of course recycle any plastic you are unable to repurpose. 

How Much Plastic is Wasted in the UK? 

Single-use plastic does have several benefits, including contributing to food safety and hygiene, reducing packaging waste in transit, and thereby reducing energy and emissions that would be generated by using alternative materials. However, household plastic consumption in the UK is more than 1.5 tons with nearly 600,000 tons generated from plastic bottles alone. 

Within the UK it’s estimated that five million tons of plastic is used every year. Nearly half of this is plastic packaging, which contributes to nearly 70% of our plastic waste. Plastic waste is non-biodegradable and can last centuries in landfills. Alternatively, it could end up as litter within our natural environment - polluting soils, oceans and rivers which leads to harming the creatures that inhabit them. 

Here at Ideal Heating, one of our main focuses is developing environmentally-friendly heating solutions. That’s why we have put together 10 top tips to help you reduce your plastic waste. 

10 Top Tips to Reduce Your Plastic Waste Today

1. Grab Some Reusable Shopping Bags

Do you often forget your reusable bags? Some people like to use canvas tote bags, rucksacks, or the more sturdy reusable bags you can now purchase from supermarkets. Carry around whatever works best for you - just remember to have them ready when you’re packing up goods at the checkouts. 

Reusable bags are great for all purchases, not only food. Put your clothes, electronics and more into a reusable shopping bag and help reduce the impact plastic is having on our environment. 

2. Ditch the Plastic Utensils and Drinking Straws

In the UK 8.5 billion plastic straws are used each year, and many countries are taking action to ban single-use plastics in order to clean up our environment. Individuals now have the option to purchase eco-friendly bamboo and metal straws, ideal for reducing your carbon footprint. 

Why not grab some enamel cups, plates and cutlery too? These are a light, unbreakable alternative to plastic. Plus, when you are on the go you will have some cutlery ready for your lunch and don’t have to use plastic knives and forks some cafes or takeaways will offer.

3. Say No to Plastic Produce Wrappers

If you are already taking reusable bags to pack your shopping in, you’re on the right track. But what about the loose fruit and vegetables? It’s time to make a change and purchase some small reusable bags to help keep even more plastic from going to landfills. You could even pop your produce straight into the basket and pack them up in your tote bag at the end of your shop. 

Smaller produce plastic bags are generally unnecessary as all you need to do is keep your fruit and vegetables loose and wash them when you get home. Scrap the plastic bags and reduce your carbon footprint instead.

4. Stop Buying Bottled Water

Bottled water produces an extraordinary amount of plastic waste, while producing the bottles requires 47 million gallons of oil. If you were to simply refill a reusable bottle, you’ll prevent some plastic bottles from ending up in landfills or the sea.  

The average person in the UK uses 150 single-use plastic bottles each year but if everyone in Europe purchased and used a reusable bottle it would prevent 6,741 tons of plastic litter each year. If you enjoy the fresh taste of filtered water, look for a water bottle with a built-in filter or invest in a water filter. 

5. Support Local - Use Your Community Milkman

Milkmen are making a comeback and it’s a great way to reduce your plastic use. The majority of milk comes in either a clear plastic bottle or a plastic-lined paper cartoon, making both types of packaging hard to recycle. 

Many local dairies will provide milk in returnable glass bottles and might even deliver it to your doorstep, meaning not only are you reducing plastic waste, but you are also supporting local businesses. Glass bottles are a simple solution to boost your eco-credentials.

6. Rethink Your Food Storage 

There’s a wide variety of prepared food and produce that comes in glass containers, including pasta sauces, jams and spreads. Instead of disposing of the jars once you have finished with their contents, reuse the jars to store other foods such as yogurts, butter and more. This will stop you from grabbing that plastic Tupperware, thus helping to reduce plastic pollution. 

Remember to reduce, rethink and reuse your plastic! Think up creative new ways to store your food and household items in order to help lower your carbon footprint and help limit the amount of plastic that is harming our environment. 

7. Swap Out The Cotton Buds

In England, we use 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds annually, contributing massively to plastic pollution. In April 2020, to help tackle the damage that non-biodegradable waste is doing to the environment, cotton buds with plastic sticks were banned and an abundance of cotton swabs produced from bamboo and paper stems made their way onto the shelves. 

The cotton bud end is 100% biodegradable, however swapping out the plastic stick in the centre is an eco-friendly alternative to single-use cotton swabs.

8. Buy a Reusable Travel Coffee Cup

Bringing a reusable travel mug to your favourite coffee shop and asking employees to fill that up instead can make a huge difference over the course of a year. In fact, some businesses will even offer you money off your coffee for helping the environment by bringing your own cup. 

Every day a countless number of businesses provide people with the same non-recyclable options for their on-the-go coffees. This contributes massively to plastic pollution and global warming, so cut out the plastic cups and prevent an abundance of unnecessary waste. 

9. Always Shop in Bulk

Buying in bulk is a great alternative to life without plastic! Select the bigger containers of food products that you use regularly instead of buying several smaller ones over time. From individual pots of yogurt, snack size packets of crisps and nuts to travel toiletries - take into account whether buying the larger option will help reduce your plastic waste. 

10. Remember to Recycle 

This may seem an obvious one, but so many people say they don’t have the time to recycle and are still sticking everything in the same general waste bins. The world only recycles 14% of the plastic that gets used, contributing massively to global warming.

If you are confused about what can and can’t be recycled, then check the packaging! A green recycling icon on plastic packaging, usually found on the bottom of an item, will indicate whether it can go in the recycling bin. 

With one of our main focuses being to develop environmentally-friendly heating solutions, our team are committed to helping people lower their carbon footprint. Here at Ideal Heating we have introduced heat pumps, and more to help boost your eco-credentials! 

You’ll find further advice to help you lower your carbon footprint, tips on gas safety, servicing and boiler care in our FAQs, as well as more in-depth guides on the Ideal Heating blog.