How To Cut Back On Plastic Waste - NCS Grad, Daisy

ncs 19/07/2019

In today’s society, it seems we are suddenly swarmed with news on climate change. Don’t get me wrong, it’s of course important that people begin to recognise climate change as a threat, but it can also make you feel afraid and helpless. We know the planet is in crisis, so what can we do to save it? 

Some seem to think their actions as individuals mean nothing, yet this is far from the truth. When one person stands up and begins to change their lifestyle towards a more hopeful future, they in turn inspire others to make a change, who will go on to inspire more, and eventually everybody will be making important changes for the sake of our future! Even if you are just one person, you can make that difference. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the past year working as a Regional Youth Board member for NCS, where our board’s Social Action Project was to help individuals in the South East of England reduce their use of (and recycle) single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are one of the biggest problems our planet faces, with as many as eight billion pieces every day polluting the oceans, contributing to global warming and harming animals. It is vital that we cut down our usage and here are some of my top tips on how to do this:

Make some plastic-free swaps with your everyday items

It’s easy to replace items you come across every day with more eco-friendly alternatives – and you’ll barely notice! Some personal favourites of mine include: a bamboo cutlery set (super convenient, and hardly takes up any space in your bag), shampoo, conditioner and body wash bars instead of bottles and a menstrual cup over disposable sanitary products. Even better, many plastic-free swaps like this can save you money in the long run! 

Cut back on fast/takeaway food 

*Cue gasps.* Yes, I know it sounds hard to give up fast food, but what’s more important – a milkshake or your future?! Many restaurants that sell takeaway food use packaging that can’t be recycled, and the majority ends up in landfills. 

Desperate for a hit of coffee in the morning? Consider investing in a reusable cup. They even sell collapsible cups to keep in your bag for emergencies! 

Educate yourself on what can and can’t be recycled 

Think you know what plastics you can recycle? Check again. It’s so important to read up on whether something can be recycled. Some plastics can be recycled at a recycling point, and some may not be safe to recycle in your area. If your area can’t recycle much plastic, then make some changes! Get in touch with your local council and raise questions as to why certain things can’t be recycled in your area. 

Buy a reusable bottle

Okay, sure. You’ve probably seen this tip a million times, yet so many people still seem to buy and fill up plastic bottles. Not only is this unhygienic, as micro plastics could break down into your water which you will ingest, but when you keep using a single-use plastic bottle over a reusable bottle, you end up throwing it away very quickly due to how dirty it gets.

There are so many reusable bottles of every shape, size and design, so there’s no excuse to keep buying plastic bottles. If you’re reading this article and you still don’t own a reusable bottle, this is your incentive to get out there and buy yourself one now! 

Consider plastic-free alternatives in your food shop

It’s saddening to see how much plastic supermarkets still use. Although, encouragingly, many are cutting down on things like 5p bags, straws and packaging on fruit and vegetables – but we still have a long way to go.

I’d say I am rather persuasive and I’m pleased to say that my family and I now shop at local markets for fruit and vegetables. Not only do local markets and shops use much less plastic, but you are also supporting a small business. Plus it tastes much better! 

These are just some of the changes regarding plastic that you can make. Use the power you have to cultivate a brighter future. Now go out there, canvas bag and reusable bottle in tow, and change the world!