5 Tips to Reduce Your Plastic Waste

Cathryn Wood, Love Essex Senior Circular Economy Officer 15th March 2022

Single-use plastic items such as cling film, takeaway coffee cups and plastic bottles are harmful to the environment and contribute to climate change. Not only does plastic require lots of energy and resources to make, but also it can be difficult (or impossible) to recycle. This means lots of plastic items can end up in landfill at the end of their life. Plastics can also find their way into our oceans. In fact, a rubbish-truckload’s worth of plastic is tipped into the ocean every minute!

It can take hundreds of years for plastic to break down and it never disappears entirely; it breaks down into microplastics which are harmful to the planet. To help reduce our plastic waste and decrease our impact on the environment, it’s time to ditch disposables and swap to reusable alternatives. Here are five easy switches to reduce your plastic consumption:

Carry a reusable coffee cup with you

Brits use and throw away 2.5 billion coffee cups every year! Coffee cups are difficult to recycle and therefore often end up in landfill. This generates 152,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year!

reusable mugs
Take a warm drink with you to go, without wasting another cup!

Remember your reusable shopping bags

Single-use plastic bags are one of the most littered items in the UK. This is unsightly for our communities, harmful to wildlife and has a damaging impact on the environment.

Since the plastic bag tax was introduced in October 2015, the number of single-use bags being used in the UK has gone down by more than 95% which is fantastic! Let’s take this even further by remembering reusable bags when out and about. Keep one rolled up in your favourite rucksack, or pop a few in your boot or bicycle basket.

Reusable bag
Remember to pack a reusable bag with you and never use a plastic bag again!

Use reusable cleaning wipes

Did you know that disposable wipes count as single-use plastic? In the UK, we throw away 11 billion wet wipes every year which break down into microplastics. Reusable cleaning cloths are usually more absorbent than disposable wipes and are much kinder to the planet!

Swap to reusable containers or wax wraps to keep your food fresh

Across the UK, the equivalent of 745,000 miles of cling film is used every year – this is enough to go around the circumference of the world 30 times! There are plenty of alternatives that you can use to keep your food fresh instead, including wax wraps, food storage containers or even simply placing a dinner plate on top of a bowl of food in the fridge! These are great ways to reduce your plastic consumption and cut down on food waste, too.

Beeswax food wraps
Make your own or buy beeswax wraps to use instead of cling film.

Say no to single-use plastic bottles

The UK is lucky to have some of the best drinking water in the world. Free tap water is available all over the country and it’s easier than ever to refill your water bottle on-the-go. By using refill stations, you will reduce plastic waste and save yourself some cash at the same time!