Plastic Free July: How to use less plastic or go plastic-free
Accessed from the world wide web at 16:00 hrs 23.07.21.
This month marks Plastic Free July, where people are being encouraged to use less plastic, or to go completely plastic-free.
The charity The Wildlife Trusts said: “Plastic is choking our seas and natural world. It poses a huge threat to wildlife because it doesn’t just disappear; it simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.
“Aside from the dangers of becoming trapped or injured, animals often ingest plastic fragments, with the potential to build up in the bodies of animals right up the food chain – from microscopic animals right up to large predators, including us.”
But how can we reduce the amount of plastic that we use?
From using reusable shopping bags to using plastic-free tea bags, here are some top tips from The Wildlife Trusts:
Take your own shopping bags with you that you can reuse over and over again, reducing the number of plastic carrier bags used and thrown away over.
Use reusable metal straws or paper straws that can be recycled where possible. Last year the Welsh Government issued a report which found that 256 million units of straws were sold per year in Wales – 173 million of these were plastic.
In the shower:
Exfoliating shower puffs are made of plastic, and, as you should replace them every three to four weeks due to the build up of bacteria on the netting, it can add up to a lot of plastic waste.
However, there are alternatives made from natural materials. You can also buy unpackaged bars of soaps and even bars of shower gel, shampoo and conditioner.
In the kitchen:
Kitchen sponges and scourers are usually made of plastic. There are some biodegradable options available made from natural materials.
Disposable razors amount to a huge amount of plastic waste, and aren’t easily recyclable. You could use traditional safety razors instead which are a much longer lasting, sustainable option.
You can refill your empty bottles of cleaning products by going to refill stores across Wales. Here you can refill your washing up liquid, bathroom cleaning products and many other items.
Many teabags have plastic woven into the fibres, or are sealed with a plastic based glue. Some companies have committed to eliminating plastic from their teabags, and a quick internet search will show you which brands are plastic-free.
Alternatively, buying loose tea can eliminate plastic packaging entirely – just be aware that many sold in cardboard boxes will be sealed in plastic inside the box to maintain freshness.
Loose products over packaged in the supermarkets:
One of the easiest ways to reduce your plastic consumption at the supermarket is by choosing loose produce over packaged. Because you will then only buy what you need, this will also help you to curb food waste.
Refillable water bottles and coffee cups are a great way to reduce the amount of plastic you use. The Welsh Government says it estimates that 33 million units of disposable cups are sold per year in Wales.
Single-use plastic stirrers:
It is estimated 11 million units are sold annually in Wales, with 5.7 million of these being plastic. Our research suggests they are largely supplied from outside the UK by importing wholesalers.
Single use plastic cutlery and plates:
When ordering a takeaway, ask if you can not have the plastic cutlery and plates and see if they have a more environmentally friendly alternative.
Last year the Welsh Government found that an estimated 226 million units of plastic cutlery are sold annually in Wales, with 159 million of these being plastic.
Meanwhile, an estimated 59 million single use plates are sold per year in Wales, 29 million plastic, and 29 million paper. This equates to an average of 19 disposable plates per person per year.
Tupperware boxes instead of cling film:
Instead of using clingfilm, pop your food in a reusable Tupperware box. Beeswax or soy wax wraps can also be used to cover pots and bowls.
The Wildlife Trusts says a huge source of plastic in the environment comes from tyres shedding microplastics onto roads and getting washed into our drains.
Vehicle tyres are mainly made from synthetic rubber – a type of plastic. So next time you’re heading out, think twice about taking the car, and ideally opt for walking or cycling instead.