If you haven’t noticed that the world has a problem with plastic, you must have been locked away for the past couple of years. From David Attenborough’s shocking revelations about the state of our oceans, to the documentaries showing how plastic is finding its way into our stomachs.
Here are our top ten tips for your family to join the revolution to eliminate single use plastic from our lives.
- Buy every member of the family a reusable water bottle. Don’t buy water in plastic bottles. Not only do they end up on a plastic mountain in other countries, contaminating the local environment, but the plastic from the bottle contaminates the water and – according to the stats – we consume about a credit card’s worth of plastic EVERY WEEK! Tap water is FREE!
- Follow the 5-a-day rule. I’m not talking about fruit and veg, but getting the habit of picking up 5 pieces of plastic every day and putting them into a recycling bin. Don’t walk past that discarded plastic bag, pick it up.
- Buy loose vegetables and fruit. Get your own bags to put them in – even if this means recycling previous plastic bags – or you can get reusable net bags
- Reuse plastic containers. If you have to buy things in plastic containers, choose ones that you can reuse for storing food in the fridge, putting sandwiches in or use to carry food to work. Plastic containers can double as plant-pots, jewellery boxes, desk tidies – be creative. As a double whammy – ditch the cling film and either reuse a plastic container instead or use foil, which is recyclable.
- Swap wet-wipes for cloths. A recent documentary revealed that most of a wet-wipe is plastic. It may look like cloth, but it’s not. Copy the upmarket hotels – have a washing basket and a pile of facecloths in the bathroom or dishcloths in the kitchen. They can all be chucked into the washing machine.
- Buy T-shirts that are screen-printed. Designs on T-shirts are either screen printed or heat-sealed on. The latter process means that the design is mostly plastic – so bits wash off in the washing machine and go into the waste system.
- Educate your kids out of straws! Plastic straws are bad news, paper straws are better. But if you can teach your kids that a straw is just an environmental disaster and they’re grown-up enough not to need one, you’ll be doing the world a big favour.
- Glitter kills. This may be a hard one. Every little girl (and quite a few little boys) love glitter. But the tiny particles end up in fishes tummies and gradually kill them, as their tummies fill up and there’s no room for real food. Banish glitter, don’t buy cards with glitter and find alternatives for craft projects (sugar crystals might create a little bit of glitter).
- Quit chewing gum. Quite apart from it sticking on everything (you’ve probably already banned it if you’ve had a child who has managed to get it in their hair), it also contains non-recyclable plastic. When you throw it away, it doesn’t degrade.
- Lead by example. Of course, you have a recyclable coffee cup don’t you? And you don’t buy things in plastic packaging or cellophane if you can possibly avoid it, do you? Make it a family project and your kids will grow up with good plastic habits.