July is dedicated to The Plastic Challenge.

In honour of this, Aimee our Marketing Executive has volunteered to take on the challenge and with week 1 nearly over, she has agreed to share her top tips for reducing plastics in day to day living:

Coffee Cups:

If you are someone that enjoys that morning cup of fuel, why not make the switch to a reusable coffee cup? You can pick up your own coffee cup from most retailers or, if you stumble across the STERIS team at a conference or event, ask us about our branded thermos’ which feature our own designs from our in-house illustrator. As a bonus, there are even a couple of coffee shops who even give you 25p off your beverage if you bring in your own cup!

Shopping Bags:

This one is probably the most talked about change that everyone can make! By swapping to reusable shopping bags, whether that be stylish totes or handy fold-up bags in a bag – this really is a great way to save plastic. This also saves that 5p (or 10p in some cases) per bag charge when popping to the local shop! According to a report from The Environment Investigation Agency and Greenpeace UK, the top 10 supermarkets in Britain are going through over 1.1 billion single-use bags and 958 million bags for life.

Fresh Fruit and Veg:

In the report created by The Environment Investigation Agency and Greenpeace UK, we go through 1.2 billion plastic bags for fruit and vegetables. We can reduce this if we simply opt for purchasing single fruit and veg without packaging. If you are worried about having those delicate products loose in your trolley or shopping bag, you can purchase reusable small mesh bags which are perfect or, you can even have one dedicated shopping bag for your fruit and veg to avoid it getting squashed by your tin of beans!

Pet Food:

If like me, you’re building your own Arc and have a house full of pets, you can go through plastic daily just from their food. For example, my cats have wet food in the evening with their biscuits and the brand that I used to buy sold it in handy little pouches. However, these are not eco-friendly and contain pesky plastic. One of the changes I made to my pet food purchasing was to swap these pouches for tins – same food, better packaging. You can also buy dry food for your pets in boxes or paper sacks as well, this avoids the plastic packaging these can sometimes come in. There are even companies online that specialise in high-quality eco-friendly foods for your pets.

Removing Makeup:

If you wear makeup and rely on those handy little makeup wipes to remove it at the end of the day, consider changing these to a cleanser/micellar water and reusable makeup remover pads. Of course, if you already own a face cloth/flannel then you can use this cleanser and warm water – saving you from purchasing anything extra. When I started to clean my makeup off like this instead of using wipes, it actually left my face feeling cleaner and more healthy, so that was a massive positive for me!

Straws:

According to an article on The National Geographic Website, “in the U.K., at least 4.4 billion straws are estimated to be thrown away annually”. Of course, the easiest way to reduce this figure is to just stop using straws altogether. However, that’s not always possible and also sometimes, a drink is just better with a straw! With the increase of plastic pollution awareness, more and more reusable solutions are emerging – you can now buy reusable straws. I recommend buying a packet that come with the cleaning brush so that you can ensure your straws are squeaky clean inside and out.

Toothbrushes:

If you use a manual toothbrush, it is worth considering using a bamboo one instead of the regular plastic kind. “Bamboo toothbrush handles can take around six months to compost, while a plastic one takes hundreds of years to fully break down,” Emma Priestland, plastic-free campaigner at Friends of The Earth, told HuffPost UK. Alternatively, if you (like me) use an electric toothbrush, there are companies online that sell replacement heads. When you are done with an old toothbrush you can also send this back to the company to be responsibly recycled (which is a lot better than them ending up in a landfill!).

Cotton Buds:

“In the UK alone, it is estimated that we use 1.8 billion, mostly single-use plastic, cotton buds every year”. For many, cotton buds are essential to daily life, but did you know that little piece of plastic is ending up on our beaches and in our oceans? I have found that some supermarkets are now selling their own brand cotton buds with a paper or cardboard tube so next time you’re shopping for a new pack, keep an eye out for these. I have also purchased some bamboo cotton buds online, which I personally prefer as they are a little more solid than the paper option.

Soap, Shampoo & Conditioner:

It’s true that we go through lots and lots of plastic bottles, tubs and tubes in our bathroom. When buying your next toiletries, consider opting for glass bottles or even start buying your soaps and hair care in bar form. There are even little “toothy tabs” which are a great alternative to tubes of toothpaste – these come in a little metal tin to keep them safe in your bathroom.

Food Waste:

Whilst food waste isn’t directly adding to the plastic pollution, it does add to the amount of rubbish we are putting in our bin liners. If you consider starting to compost any natural food waste, your garden will be extremely grateful and additionally, you will reduce the amount of waste in the plastic bin liner, therefore reducing the amount of bin liners you use and the amount of plastic going in the bin in the form of these bin liners.

Finishing Note:

You don’t have to rush yourself into a 100% plastic free lifestyle, but you can start to make small changes here and there. If everyone made just a few of the above changes, the positive impact and reduction in plastic pollution would be incredible. Every person can make a difference so, do your best, have fun with it and share ideas with your friends and family – remember, there is no Planet B.

Sources and Further Information:

https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Checking-out-on-plastics.pdf
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/tesco-plastic-free-fruit-vegetables-waste-environment-a8839166.html
https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2018/07/brief-history-how-plastic-straws-took-over-world
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/should-you-be-switching-your-plastic-toothbrush-for-a-bamboo-one_uk_5b5591a2e4b0fd5c73c6e281
https://www.cottonbudproject.org.uk/plastic-cotton-bud-sticks-in-marine-litter.html


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