Reducing single-use plastic waste: Four easy eco-friendly swaps

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Single-use plastic. Milk bottle with a plate of chocolate brownies
Photo by sheri silver on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links to Etsy and the Modern Milkman. That means if you click on the link to those shops and buy from them, I get paid a fee.

The consumption of single-use plastic is at an all-time high. Globally we produce around 370 million metric tons of plastic a year, huge amounts of which end up as waste. These often end up in landfill sites and pollute our waterways, causing catastrophic damage to marine life.

A lot of single-use plastic comes from a desire for quick and easy solutions to help us through our day. Things like straws, coffee cups, food containers, and wet wipes may make our lives easier, but they clog up our bins and add to the ever-increasing mounds of waste in our environment.

A lot of the food we buy in supermarkets is wrapped in plastic. This is reducing, but it’s still a popular and convenient way for supermarkets in particular to present food. Growing your own fruit and vegetables not only helps to reduce single-use plastic, but it’s good for your health too.

Changing to products that are kinder to the world we live in doesn’t mean spending more money. Although the initial outlay will be more than a single-use product, in the long run, it often works out to be cheaper. Here are four easy swaps you can make that won’t break to bank and will help to reduce the amount of waste your household generates:

Re-use hot drink cups

We use and discard approximately 2.5 billion coffee cups in the UK every year. Only around 1 in 400 are recycled. That’s a lot of waste. Getting into the habit of taking a refillable cup with you every day can take a while. But it’s definitely worth the effort.

Most coffee shops will let you use your own cup (as long as it’s clean!) so it just takes a bit of planning to make sure you’ve got it with you every day. There are lots of stylish eco-friendly reusable cups on the market, such as these gorgeous William Morris design ones from The Real Bamboo Company. Or these practical cups from JJ Wonderland Co that have handles making them easier to carry.

I guess the only dilemma then is which reusable cup to buy!

Reducing single-use plastic: Milk bottles

Plastic milk bottles currently account for around 10% of all plastic used. Whilst every type of plastic can, technically, be recycled, not all of it is. Whether a particular type is recycled depends on economic and logistical factors.

The plastics used to make milk and soft drink bottles are the most widely recycled. But in the UK, each local authority decides which materials they recycle. Some widely recycle plastic. Some don’t. So you’ll need to check with your local council to find out whether they recycle plastic milk bottles.

The best way of making sure the bottle you get your milk in doesn’t add to the volume of waste we create is to use bottles that can be used time and time again. A glass milk bottle is the traditional way milk has been delivered to households up and down the country since the late 1800s. The rise of the supermarket so the use of the milkman demise, but there’s recently been a rise in their popularity again.

Single-use plastic. A row of glass milk bottles
Photo by Mehrshad Rajabi on Unsplash

Milk deliveries

We started using a milkman again during lockdown. Milk was one of the things that often sold out in supermarkets. Having our milk delivered helped me feel a bit more in control of what felt like a very out-of-control situation. And the fact that it came from a local farm and was delivered in eco-packaging was a huge bonus.

On average, a milk bottle is used 13 times before it’s recycled. Recycling glass in the UK saves enough energy to launch 10 space shuttle missions. Every tonne recycled saves 246kg of CO2 emissions, and the process uses less energy than it does to create new glass.

So, getting your milk delivered by a milkman is a win-win. There are lots of local and national diaries that deliver not just milk, but fresh produce like milk, fruit, and vegetables too.

We currently use The Modern Milkman and have done for a while now. I like the fact that I can change our order up to 8 pm the night before our delivery. And the range of products they deliver is gradually increasing. We got vegetables for our Christmas dinner delivered a couple of days before the big day last year. They were great value for money, delicious, and meant I had one less thing to worry about.

If you’d like to try the Modern Milkman, use this link to get £5 off your first three orders (minimum order may apply). I also get a voucher if you sign up using my link.

Reusable wipes

A lot of reusable wipes contain traces of plastic. That means they end up in landfill sites or in our waterways causing untold damage to marine life. Wipes that are flushed down the loo create fatbergs in our sewers which cause damage to our infrastructure. If you’d like to read more about the devastating impact the use of single-use wipes has, this article sets it all out clearly.

Replacing single-use wipes with reusable fabric ones is better for the environment, cheaper in the long run, and looks so much nicer! We sell a range of sizes of reusable wipes that we make using lots of end-of-line fabrics that would otherwise end up in the bin. That means they’re unique as well as stylish and kinder to your skin and the environment. Head over to our shop to see the full range and buy reusable fabric wipes.

Reusable shopping bags

It’s a fact that you can never have too many bags. Unless they’re single-use ones. Hopefully, the days of single-use plastic bags are long gone. In their place are a range of bags that we can reuse each time we shop.

You can buy multi-use plastic bags at the checkout of your favourite supermarket. Or pick up a more stylish fabric one. With so many to choose from at a range of price points, there really is no excuse for not having one in your handbag every time you go shopping.

Buying a reusable bag is an easy way of supporting lots of different charities too. There’s something to suit every style. I love these cute panda bags sold by WWF that are made from four recycled water bottles. And these ones sold by the British Red Cross take recycling to a whole new level. They are made by Trashy Bags Africa which is a Social Enterprise, using over 25 used plastic water sachets.

The sachets are the single largest source of drinking water in Ghana. Managing the waste presents an enormous challenge which is where Trash Bags Africa comes in. They collect over 200,000 plastic water sachets every month and upcycle them into wonderful, new products.

Single-use plastic. Reusable shopping bag filled with vegetables
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Head over to the eco-friendly changes section to get more tips about small changes we can make that are kinder to the environment and help to reduce the amount of single-use plastic we use.

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not buy me a coffee to help keep the magazine free for everyone to read? If you’d like to read more articles about adoption, health and well-being, and parenting, head over to the home page and have a look at what’s new.

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