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Life Away From Plastic Waste: 7 Ways to Ramp Up Your Sustainability

Mary is a freelance lifestyle writer and photographer. She runs a blog, An Eye Behind, that focuses on the secret life of London.

With an ever-growing market for eco-friendly product swaps and the rise of the DIY phenomenon across social media, reducing plastic waste has never been easier.

Yet, as the world continues to move further towards a complete ban on the production of single-use plastic, we still see 300 million tonnes of it created annually around the globe

With the average plastic bottle taking up to 450 years to biodegrade according to the graph below, limiting our own plastic consumption is the only way forward.

1. Say no to the commuting coffee

Who doesn't look forward to a coffee on a bleak Monday morning commute? How about that half-price bottle of coke with your afternoon meal deal? Saying no to your trusty shop brought beverages will not only save your pocket, but the planet too.

According to the WWF, over 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK alone. For an eco-friendly alternative why not invest in a reusable cup or bottle, perfect for that early morning rush.

2. Bamboo is your best friend

If you’re looking to make a few quick lifestyle changes on your path to reducing your plastic footprint, bamboo is a great biodegradable material that is commonly used to create fantastic eco-friendly alternatives to your favourite plastic products.

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet, rendering it as a sustainable and sturdy resource, ideal for manufacturing.

From straws to toothbrushes, the rise in popularity of bamboo substitutes has made it one of the lead materials used in trending eco swaps. Better still, some types of bamboo, such as Bamboo Kuna are naturally antibacterial, making it a real winner when used for sustainable beauty tools.

3. Despise disposables

The beauty market is where we are currently seeing the most change, as many are starting to swap disposable tools for their durable counterparts.

For example, disposable razors are some of the highest offenders in plastic waste production. According to Statista, 158.1 million Americans used disposable razors and shavers in 2020, making these plastic-based products a danger to our seas.

Made up of a hybrid of rubber and plastic, disposable razors are not easily recycled, often resulting in the pollution of landfill sites.

An environment focused alternative to this is the safety razor. The safety razor is a reliable and reusable swap that will also save your pocket. Made up of stainless steel and combined with other materials such as bamboo, this type of razor can last over a year, making it the perfect new addition to your toiletry bag!

4. Forget fast fashion

One way to become a master of zero waste life is to reuse and recycle in all areas. Fashion is no exception.

In 2019, the Clean Clothes Campaign claimed that 3 out of 5 fast fashion items end up in landfill suggesting that our obsession with highstreet brands could be further damaging the environment.

To combat this, a great way to reduce material waste is to avoid clothing giants and shop with smaller, ethically sourced fashion brands. Make use of vintage and charity shops and invest in brands that make long-lasting clothing, accessories and sustainable eyeglasses, like that of Modo.

5. Become a master of DIY

In the wake of Covid-19, it’s safe to say we have all had a bit of spare time on our hands. Now is the perfect time to get crafting to create some of your most frequently used household items from scratch.

One of our current favourites is the DIY Covid-19 Mask. As reported by TradeWaste.co.uk, over 53 million disposable masks are thrown away every day in the UK, making them a new contributor to Britain's growing pollution problem.

If you’re looking to ramp up your sustainability, why not switch to a reusable alternative such as a cloth mask, which can be crafted out of spare materials such as pillowcases and bedsheets.

6. Is it a “bag for life?”

Since the introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge in 2015, the waste produced from single-use plastic bags has fallen dramatically. However, environmental charity, Greenpeace revealed that although plastic bag sales had dropped by 322 million by 2018, bag for life sales have risen by 1.5 billion in the last four years.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that plastic bags are still filling our landfill sites and polluting our waters, especially when they take up to 20 years to biodegrade.

Cloth alternatives are a great way to reduce plastic bag waste, with a fashionable twist. Made from recycled tern tote material, they are a durable addition to your next grocery trip.

7. Start bulk buying

Buying your favourite groceries week in week out could also be contributing to your plastic footprint. According to the Environment Protection Agency, 45% of landfill waste is directly attributed to food packaging and plastic containers. Bulk buying your staples such as pasta and rice will not only save you money, but reduce the consumption of unnecessary packaging.

Better still, why not invest in sustainable glass containers that can be taken to popular bulk stores such as The Source Bulk Foods, to eliminate plastic waste altogether.

With eco-friendly product swaps on the rise, more single-use plastic solutions are being created every day.

As demonstrated by the graph above, more countries are moving forward to reduce plastic waste globally. In 2021 alone, the EU plans to ban 10 single-use plastic items in a bid to improve pollution levels across Europe.

By adopting these 7 simple steps into your daily routine, you too will contribute to the war on plastic, preparing the world for a more sustainable future.

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