It’s Plastic Free July, the month where an international drive is made to raise awareness of reducing / or eliminating our use of single use plastic. During the pandemic we’ve seen our use of single use plastic rise again with the return of; plastic bag use in supermarket deliveries, disposable coffee cups, and a higher demand for essential PPE.
How you can help reduce single use plastic
It is so important we do what is in our individual power. Granted it can be daunting when you first start to consider a more sustainable way of living. There are so many people out there who seem to be doing it perfectly and it can feel like it has to be all or nothing. It’s not the case. Making regular small changes is the way to achieve long-term success.
As Anne-Marie Bonneau (@ZeroWasteChef) said: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Single use plastic simple swaps
BeeBee & Leaf asked the BeeBee Club: ‘What single use plastic do you struggle to ditch?’ We also asked you to tell us your best single use plastic swaps and ideas. So here they are – the top struggles and the top solutions, we’ve thrown in a few extras too.
Food packaging - This is such a massive problem. The simplest way to combat this is to use zero waste shops like Full Circle in Cambridge. They are popping up everywhere now so hopefully you’ll have one near you. Save your food containers and invest in some quality jars for storage at home. Ordering your fruit and veg from companies like Abel & Cole can really help to reduce the amount of waste you accumulate from your weekly shop.
Sanitary products - Every person that menstruates uses between 11,000 and 16,000 tampons and pads in their lifetime, equating to 200kg that ends up in landfill. We do have eco options – silicone cups such as the mooncup, reusable sanitary pads, organic cotton tampons with reusable applicator, and/or period pants.
Bathroom products - Our bathrooms can be filled with single use plastic. It’s all open to easy swaps. A brand we actually stock at BeeBee is ZeroWastePath – from us you can buy their soap bars which are multipurpose for hands, face and body, 2in1 solid shampoo, and solid lotion. Also try swapping your toothbrush for a beautifully made bamboo toothbrush.
Clingfilm - We can definitely help you here! Swap your clingfilm with BeeBee & Leaf. We have a range of designs in our beeswax and vegan food wraps for you to pick from. They come in a number of different pack formats depending on which size you need so you can choose what suits you best. Prices start at £9.50. The wraps will keep your food fresher for longer so cut your food waste, as well as being better for the environment. They should last for around a year when washed correctly. Keep your eyes peeled for a new rewaxing product launching at the end of the month!
Doggy poop bags - There are so many alternatives out there and we think this one looks great. They are Oxo-Biodegradable – so whether they are buried in soil or used in special garden dog bins these will completely degrade into natural carbon dioxide and water in as little as 24 months.
Convenience lunches - In the pre pandemic world it was all too easy to grab a meal deal (covered in single use plastic) from a high street store for lunch, but now we’ve had months of home cooking. So, lets use those new ideas for lunches, and shed the plastic and cost. Storage options include saving packaging e.g., ice cream tubs, using existing Tupperware, BeeBee & Leaf wraps, or for a warm lunch we love the Qwetch Insulated Bento Box.
Disposable coffee cups - This is such a simple swap, but trickier since Covid. Most coffee shops are now back to using disposable cups and refusing to take customers reusable cups. However, where you can take your own drink out with you. We’re big fans of Contigo and Chilly’s.
Nappies - The charity Wrap says by the time they are potty trained, a baby could have used 4,000 to 6,000 disposable nappies, or 20 to 30 reusable nappies. Each of those disposable nappies could take up to 500 years to break down. Make the swap to reusable. Little Lamb is a good place to start.
Babywipes - In 2017, research found that wet wipes counted for around 93% of the material that caused sewer blockages. If you use them for a baby’s bum instead try simple toilet paper, cotton wool with moisturiser, or try washable baby wipes. If you use them for make-up removal invest in some reusable pads.
The most important thing to remember is keep it simple and focus on one swap at a time. If you take on too many changes at once you risk feeling overwhelmed and like it’s too hard. Take it slow, make a plan, and enjoy it – know that you are making a difference.
Useful resources for getting started
Plastic Free July Take their challenge, get advice, support their charity
Sustainable(ish) with Jen Gale Home of easy, everyday sustainability for the imperfectly green
Zero Waste Path Vegan, handmade, sustainable products
Anything But Plastic Home, bath and lifestyle products