The average household in the UK throws away an average of 40kg of plastic per year – only 45% of which is recycled. What happens to the remaining 55%? It goes straight into the landfill, if it makes it that far, otherwise it litters our countryside, towns, and waterways.
We produce and use 20 times more plastic than we did fifty years ago, and if we don’t change our ways our plastic use may double in the next two decades. Here at Ethical Nutrition, we do our absolute best to not only manage our own plastic waste (as a brand we don’t actually use any at all) but to encourage our customers to do the same. If you’re confused about the difference between Recyclable, Biodegradable and Compostable, check out our simple explanation here.
Fortunately, if you’re reading this article that means that you, like our customers, are striving to better themselves and the environment. Here are 6 easy steps to help you make some serious shifts and give up plastic – at least in some areas of your life – for good.
Step 1: Avoid Bottled Water
One of the easiest steps you can take is to stop buying bottled water. It takes a lot of resources and energy to extract and bottle the water in the first place, and the bottles just go straight in the bin once you’re done. We’re lucky here in the UK because we have safe tap water, so we can take advantage of that either by drinking it straight from the tap or running it through a reusable filter.
There are plenty of stainless steel reusable alternatives to plastic bottles that look great and are easy to keep clean for taking your water and other beverages with you on the go.
Step 2: Buy Food in Bulk or Switch to Reusable Containers
If you have the storage space try to buy your dry goods in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic waste you’re generating and buy from stores that allow you to use your own containers whenever possible. If you live in the city, you are much more likely to find an eco-friendly grocery store or supermarket that will let you do this, but even Sainsbury’s now allows you to buy reusable fruit and veg bags, so take advantage of that. We’re a one-use plastic-bag-free country now, so make sure you’re reusing your bags and not always buying new ones that you end up using as an extra bin bag.
Step 3: Be Conscious of Your Hair and Body Care Products
If you’re willing to experiment a little, it’s incredibly easy to alter your hair and skincare routine to be more eco-friendly. Try shopping for bar soap instead of liquid soap – Lush have a great range, but you’ll be overwhelmed with options if you head online and find small handmade stores. These soaps have the benefit of often being all-natural and cruelty-free, which unfortunately can’t be said for many off-the-shelf soaps.
You can do the same with moisturisers, lip balms, and scrubs, which can be easily made from organic ingredients at home or purchased in glass jars and metal tins, which are reusable and recyclable.
Step 4: Get Cooking
How to do you buy your bread? Is it from a bakery wrapped in paper or from the shelf in a plastic bag? If you don’t have a bakery near you or don’t want an extra stop, try making your own bread. Even premade bread mixes come in recyclable paper packaging. Of course, reducing your reliance on bread is also a good thing to do for your waistline.
You can even make your own soy or nut milks, ketchup, mayonnaise, hummus, snack bars, and crisps – let your creativity run with it knowing you’re improving your own health as well as the health of the environment.
Step 5: Use Natural Cleaners
Most household cleaners are not environmentally friendly, but you can easily make your own cleaner at home and simply use a reusable spray bottle. Most messes can be taken care of with a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water – even on your carpet. For tougher problems like limescale and mildew, add some baking soda.
You can also opt for natural sponges instead of plastic for washing up, though be cautious of where you buy these from. If you have old t-shirts you no longer wear, use them for dust cloths around the house so you can wash them and use them again.
Step 6: Pack Your Lunch
This is a tip you’ll get for losing weight and saving money, but it’s also extremely beneficial in reducing your plastic waste. When you head to Tesco Express (or your convenience store of choice) and buy your lunch it nearly always contains a lot of plastic that you’re going to throw away just 15 minutes after you bought it.
Instead, pack your lunch at home – steel Japanese Bento boxes are particularly useful as they have lots of separate compartments so you can keep your lunch fresh until it’s time to eat, without the use of cling film or sandwich bags.
Bonus Step 7:
Taking food supplements or a multivitamin? Did you know most are either packaged in a plastic pot or heavy glass jars with plastic-based labels and seals.
One simple change you can make to protect your health and environment is to choose an ethical multivitamin in plastic free packaging. Check out our artisan food-based multivitamin in UK made paper packaging - feel good about feeling good.
There are literally hundreds of ways you can reduce your plastic waste once you make that your goal, but even just working these 6 easy steps into your life and making them habitual will go a long way to reducing the amount of plastic waste you produce. When everyone does just a little, it equals a huge difference. For 73 more ways to use less plastic, head over to this fantastic blog post by the Naturaler.
If you’d like to like to find out more about how plastics affect the environment, read our article on different types of plastic packaging. If you’re interested in learning more about how ethical vegan multivitamins can improve your health, click here.