Living sustainably doesn’t mean giving up simple pleasures, it’s just about making better choices. Here are 5 easy swaps that don’t cost the earth!
Reusable Drinks Bottle
There are many reasons to stop using single-use plastic bottled water. Maybe its because plastic particles have been found in almost all of them, or its the thought of paying up to 10,000 times what it costs companies to bottle it that doesn’t sound fair. Whatever the reason, the less we use these single-use plastics, the better impact it has.
You can get reusable bottles in all shapes and sizes, from slim and subtle to large and bold. Start simple and get one that you can carry comfortably in your bag or coat pocket and see how you get on. You may find you start drinking more water which is a healthy added bonus.
You can fill up your bottle for free at more than 15,000 registered refill stations in the UK. Find your nearest by using the Refill app.
Good Quality Shopping Bags
Plastic shopping bags have been around since the 1970s. They were cheap, convenient and fairly durable. In the time since their rise in popularity though, more has been learnt about their polluting impacts. Evidence is still mounting on how long it takes plastic bags to biodegrade and estimates range from 10’s to 100’s to 1,000’s of years. By whichever time, the microplastics that plastic bags have been reduced have already made their way into our waterways, soil and air.
Swap plastic carrier bags and even the thicker ‘bag for life’ options for a good quality reusable bag made from sustainable material. You can also get bags that pack away so that you can always have one with you.
It’s estimated that at least 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups are thrown away each year. The issue with these cups is that although they’re mostly made from card, they contain a plastic lining that makes them heat and leakproof. This plastic is very difficult to separate and recycle and only a small number of facilities are able to process them. In the UK, the vast majority (more than 99.75%) don’t get recycled.
There is a wide range of reusable cups and flasks to choose from, including ‘smart’ cups with in-built contactless payment. Our suggestion is to go for one that matches your habit. There’s no need to get a large fancy flask for the occasional coffee. Also, many coffee shops now give money off for using a reusable cup so you can make your money back after just a few uses.
Travel Cutlery Set
Plastic cutlery is often an after-thought which is then thrown away after only a single use. In addition to this plastic cutlery is not widely recycled and can also contain potentially harmful chemicals that leach into food if exposed to heat.
Some food sellers use more sustainable cutlery made from wood or bamboo but the best option is to have your own set ready to go. You could start with a simple 2 or 3-piece set which will cover almost any meal.
Reusable Food Wraps
Standard cling film and plastic food bags are very difficult to recycle, and only when they are completely clean of food residue. Because of this, they can actually contaminate recyclable plastics if they are collected together so they should be disposed of carefully.
Use food wraps, lids and bags made from naturally sustainable materials like bamboo, beeswax, cotton and hemp. Also, materials that allow certain foods to ‘breathe’ can also keep it fresher for longer than air-tight plastic.
Missed a step, or can’t remember what the Three Rs are? Check out the 3-Step Guide to Sustainability