Many people tuned in to watch Blue Planet II last year, and if you watched it too, you will know that it carried a message to us all- that we need to start cutting down on our single use plastic consumption. It’s something that is devastating our planet, but luckily, there are so many alternatives, and each one of us can do something to help.
By cutting down on convenience plastics, we can also save ourselves some money in the process, it really is a win-win situation. Have a look at the list below, and challenge yourself to do your bit to save the planet, and save some money whilst you’re at it.
Reusable drinks cups
Single use water bottles and coffee cups are now the next big polluters that need to be tackled and kept in check. A plastic water bottle will take around 450 years to decompose, and sadly the vast majority of plastic water bottles are not recycled and instead are going straight into landfill and into the ocean. You can save so much money by investing in reusable water bottles to fill with tap water every day for you and your family. There are so many options- from stainless steel to strong plastic, and some even come with a built in filter or diffuser which you can use to add natural flavour to your drink. If you also make the switch to a reusable coffee cup, instead of buying that expensive £3 coffee every morning, this will save you £60 a month- or a huge £720 over the course of a year. Many reusable coffee cups are made from glass with a silicone sleeve which means that your coffee stays hotter for longer than in a single use coffee cup- most cost less than £15 and the investment is well worth it when you can see the savings that you could make over one year.
Shampoo and shower gel bars
Retailers have now started to get on board with reducing the amount of plastic used in toiletries and cosmetics, and this includes making ‘naked’ products. ‘Naked’ products are cosmetics and toiletries that come with no packaging at all- there is zero waste. Shampoo bars are reusable and they foam and lather just like normal liquid shampoos, one concentrated bar will last about as long as 4 or 5 liquid shampoo bottles if you keep the bar in a dry place after use. If you start to buy shampoo and shower gel bars instead of bottles, you will save so much money on your toiletries and also reduce your plastic consumption.
Bag for life
The 5p charge on plastic bags came into play in the UK in October 2015, and their usage has plummeted ever since. If you don’t have one already, it’s a great idea to get a reusable carrier bag for your shopping, the 5p cost can add up over the course of the year and the environmental impact of continuing to use plastic bags is huge-it takes between 20-1000 years for a plastic bag to fully decompose. The cost of a reusable carrier bag is only a few pounds and they can be folded up into a pocket sized pouch- there’s no excuse not to carry one with you whenever you shop.
The UK has been throwing away 8.5 billion straws every year, and after the success of the plastic bag charge, restaurants and bars across the country have begun to ban plastic straws from their establishments in a bid to help save our oceans. McDonald’s are even banning plastic straws from their UK eateries by next year and plan to roll out a paper alternative from this September. This is a fantastic step forward in terms of reducing our consumption of single-use plastics as a nation. If you still prefer using straws, you can buy reusable straws made of materials such as stainless steel, silicone and even bamboo. Straws are so easy to keep in your handbag or car for when you need them, and are super affordable too! If you feel the need to buy disposable straws for a BBQ or kids party- you can still help the environment by making sure they are paper.
Reusable menstrual cup
Menstrual cups are not for everyone, but if you are open to them, they are a great way to save money on sanitary products. They are usually made from a soft medical-grade silicone rubber and with the proper care should last for several years. Most women will spend thousands of pounds throughout their lifetime on sanitary products, and if you are brave enough to give a menstrual cup a try, most are under £20 so you will make significant savings over its lifespan. By investing in a product that is reusable, you are also reducing your single use plastic consumption as unfortunately many tampon applicators are now plastic, as are the bags that most sanitary pads are sold in.
Washable cloth nappies are not for the faint hearted, but in actual fact, we lived just fine with reusable nappies up until around the 1960’s when disposable nappies became the norm. Cloth nappies are also free from the chemicals found in every day disposable nappies, because of this, they have been found to actually soothe some persistent rashes on some babies. Cloth nappies are an investment to begin with, and the prices for various brands widely vary but most cloth nappies will have a waterproof outer with a removable lining which can be flushed down the toilet. You will need about 20 washable nappies to begin with, but after the initial investment, you will start to see a cost benefit to using them- particularly if you use cloth nappies again with any other babies you have in the future.