6 Easy ways to reduce your plastic waste right now

It’s not enough to just recycle anymore – we must make an effort to cut down on our plastic usage. Be a part of the change.

This month marks Plastic Free July, a chance for us to learn more about the harmful effects of plastic consumption and look for plastic-free alternatives. This global movement provides tips and useful resources to empower you to be part of the solution.

Hundreds of millions of people have been inspired to try Plastic Free July over the years, taking effect in 177 countries – it really is that easy. Even making small changes to our daily habits produces positive results in protecting our planet from the climate breakdown.

Did you know?

It is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic are used every year in the UK, nearly half of which is packaging. On a global scale, eight million pieces of plastic enter our oceans every single day. In Brighton & Hove alone, almost 12 tonnes of rubbish was collected from a single day from Brighton beach. 

As a material, plastic takes hundreds of years to breakdown and never fully decomposes. Instead, it breaks up into microplastics, which is ingested by fish and sea mammals and pollutes our oceans. For example, a plastic bottle can take more than 450 years to disintegrate into microplastic in the ocean.

According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), less than a third of plastic waste is actually recycled in the UK. This is why we must make a conscious effort to start avoiding single-use plastic products and packaging – to save plastic waste from going to landfill or in our oceans. 

It can be overwhelming to try new things and change our ways, but the sooner we adapt our behaviour the quicker the positive effect on our environment. Most of us have got into the habit of bringing our own bag when we do a food shop – but what are the first steps to making changes elsewhere?

Buy loose fruit and vegetables

Although some supermarkets are starting to get rid of unnecessary packaging, it’s still a big issue. Some people argue in favour of packaging for freshness. Consider supporting your local grocers or fruit & veg box suppliers who sell fresh food without plastic wrapping. You can also ask for plastic-free packaging from your local butcher or baker.

Use refill stations

Lots of food shops are now encouraging you to bring your own container to buy dry/ cupboard food items by weight. This service is also being trialled in some UK supermarkets. You can also refill household cleaning products such as detergent and washing up liquid if you bring your own bottle.

Reusable bottles and coffee cups

According to Water UK, 7.7 billion plastic bottles are used every year in the UK (last estimate from 2018). Buying a reusable bottle will save you money and cut plastic waste. Use the Refill app to find your nearest water point.

2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK (UK Parliament, 2019). Using a keep cup will save coffee cups from going to landfill, as paper cups and plastic lids are difficult to recycle once used. Lots of local and branded coffee shops even offer a discount off your hot drink as an incentive.

Ditch cling film

Cling film is single-use and not currently recyclable, taking hundreds of years to decompose. Over 1.2 billion metres of cling film is used by households across Britain every year (enough to wrap the world 30 times). Consider using reusable containers for keeping food fresh or saving leftovers. If you’re still looking for something to cover your food in, try Beeswax wraps.

Swap out plastic bathroom products

It is difficult to achieve a plastic-free bathroom when so many products use the material for packaging and preservation. Look into making these changes gradually so you’re not overwhelmed. Easily accessible options without plastic include using a shampoo bar for your hair, biodegradable cotton buds, natural soaps and plastic-free loo roll (all available online or in health food shops). It can be daunting switching to these alternatives but why not give them a try for this month?

Shop local

Try switching from supermarket to local. Here are some suggestions of stores across Brighton & Hove offering plastic-free alternatives for your weekly shop in Brighton & Hove.

Captain Pig: a vegan grocer with refill stations for dry food and some cleaning products.
Dubleaus the Grocer: a local grocer with plastic-free products.
Down To Earth: an independent, vegetarian health food store.
Grocer and Grain: grocer and deli offering locally produced food.
Harriets of Hove: plastic-free and plant-based food items. Zero waste.
Health Rebels: an organic grocery store with vegetarian/vegan food.
HISBE: refills, baked goods and loose fruit/veg.
Infinity Foods: organic and natural vegetarian food items.
Kindly of Brighton: sustainable items, refills and vegan products.
Organic Bakery: serves fresh bread and loose fruit/veg. Based in Hove. 
Taj: a huge array of loose fruit and vegetables.
The Source Bulk Foods: Brighton branch of this store. Refills – zero waste.
WasteNot: Zero waste refills shop with reusable homeware items.

For more information about Plastic Free July: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/

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