10 practical ways you can cut your plastic usage for Plastic Free July


Man drinking from reusable coffee cup

“Plastic Free July” is a global movement that helps us all to work towards ending plastic pollution, so we can have cleaner and healthier oceans, countryside, and communities.

We’ve all read about the impact of single-use plastics on our environment. In some situations, plastic use is unavoidable, and it’s almost impossible for us to eradicate it altogether. However, the good news is that we can all take steps to cut our plastic usage.

To celebrate Plastic Free July, read on for 10 ways you can reduce your plastic footprint.

1. Carry a reusable coffee cup

Each year, billions of coffee cups thrown away, and go to landfill or end up littering the planet or the sea. Most of these cups aren’t recyclable and can take up to 50 years to decompose.

This is even more shocking when you consider that the cup only spends 10 minutes or so being useful. The simple solution is to carry a reusable coffee cup or flask with you, even when buying drinks from a café or restaurant. In fact, some coffee shops even offer discounts if you bring your own cup or flask.

2. Bring your water bottle

Recent years have seen thousands of media photos showing oceans and beaches covered with plastic bottles. It’s no secret that they’re a major cause of plastic pollution around the world.

Carrying your own reusable water bottle is a simple way to dramatically reduce your plastic use.

3. Find an alternative to cling film

If you’ve ever driven past a cling film factory, you’ll know that it smells. Cling film is full of chemicals that are bad for the environment and, as it also can’t be recycled, it generally ends up in landfill.

While the obvious alternative is foil, which is reusable (to an extent) and recyclable, a more environmentally friendly option could be beeswax wraps.

They’re environmentally friendly and natural, made of beeswax, cotton, pine resin and jojoba oil. Not only do these wraps reduce the plastic pollution that cling film contributes to, but you also won’t have any cling film chemicals touching your food.

4. Avoid plastic cutlery

Like plastic coffee cups, plastic cutlery is another example of something you use for a few minutes and then throw away.

Reuse your plastic cutlery or carry a spork with you, to reduce your plastic waste.

5. Stop the chewing habit

Perhaps surprisingly, chewing gum is actually made from plastic. When you throw it away, it takes many years to decompose (remember all the chewing gum stuck under school tables?!).

Giving up chewing gum is a great way to reduce your plastic use. Switch to an eco-friendly alternative (they do exist) or have regular snacks instead.

6. Ditch the plastic straws

Straws are easy to avoid as it’s not often that we genuinely need to use them. And, plastic straws can take literally centuries to decompose.

If you have a drink that can’t be sipped and you really need a straw, choose a paper one instead.

7. Use a milk machine

There are environmentally friendlier ways of buying milk than in the usual supermarket plastic bottles.

In many parts of the country, milk vending machines have been popping up. Simply take your own bottles to the vending machine, enter your payment, and fill up with milk. Alternatively, why not go back to the good old days and have your milk delivered in glass bottles to your door?

8. Switch to loose-leaf tea

Many commercial teabags are sealed with plastic and throwing them away can contribute to microplastics in our waterways.

To counteract this effect, consider switching to loose-leaf tea and use a tea strainer, rather than the customary bags. Alternatively, find one of the increasing number of tea producers who are making positive changes and changing to biodegradable teabags.

9. Drink wine with corks

Screw-topped wines really spoil the ritual of opening a bottle of wine – we all know that removing a cork is a hundred times more satisfying!

When you choose your wine for the weekend, look for bottles with natural corks rather than plastic or metal tops. The metal tops contain the industrial chemical BPA.

10. Reduce your plastic glitter

While everyone loves a bit of glitter, this favourite party decoration is made from microplastics. It means it can enter our oceans and be eaten by fish and plankton, eventually working its way into the human food chain.

There are plenty of biodegradable, environmentally-friendly glitter brands just an internet search away.