Single-Use Plastics

What Are Single-Use Plastics

The media is full of stories on how we should all be reducing our use of single-use plastics.  In 2018 the growing concern for the environment and growing awareness of the problems we’ve been creating for ourselves with ever increasing disposable plastic products pushed the word “single-use” to the top of Collins Dictionary’s list of “Word of the Year.”

Collins says there’s been a fourfold increase in the usage of the word since 2013, in part thanks to news coverage of environmental issues.

The definition of Single-Use is:

designed to be used once and then disposed of or destroyed.
“billions of single-use cups are thrown into landfill sites every year”

That’s the definition of Single-Use. So, what can we do about it.

Single-Use Plastics

Which are the worst single-use offenders?

  1. Plastic straws are one of the worse single use plastics, the UK alone uses around 8.5 billion per year. They are easily dropped or discarded and can easily be blown into water courses. 
  2. Plastic bottles are a huge problem.  Approximately 13 billion plastic bottles are used each year in the UK. Only 7.5 billion are recycled.
  3. Disposable coffee cups – Everyone seems to love a takeaway coffee now, me included.  But did you know that in the UK we use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day – that’s 2.5 billion every year.
  4. We’re moving in the right direction with Plastic bags but there’s still a long way to go.  
  5. Plastic cotton buds are another huge problem, especially when people flush them down the loo.  1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used in England each year.
  6. Cling film is difficult to recycle, information about where specific types of cling film can be recycled is hard to find, meaning the majority of it still ends up in landfill.  And, more than 1.2 billion metres, equating to 745,000 miles of cling film is used by households across Britain every year – enough to go around the circumference of the world 30 times over.
  7. Food packaging – why does are fruit and veg need to be packaged in so much unnecessary plastic?
  8. Sandwich bags are convenient but there are so many better alternatives that aren’t single-use

Can I Make A Difference?

YES! Even small changes can add up.  Every day you are making decisions that have an impact.  How do you get to work? How do you buy your groceries? What are you eating? What are you buying? Everything is interconnected. 

With just one small step at a time, you can help make a difference. But, going zero waste isn’t just great for the environment, you’ll notice an improvement in your quality of life. Side effects include eating better, feeling better, saving money, and not having to take out the rubbish!

Zero Waste The 5 Rs

Refuse – Learn to say no! Say no to food wrapped in plastic, say no to that plastic straw.

Reduce – Think before you buy.  If you switch to homemade natural cleaning products you only need some White Distilled Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda to cover most jobs link

Reuse – If things break, repair them or have them repaired. Upcycle items you would otherwise throw away, paint that old chair and give it a new lease of life. Buy second hand.

Recycle – If you’ve managed to Refuse, Reduce and Reuse then you shouldn’t have a lot left but make sure you separate out your remaining rubbish and put the recycleable rubbish in the recycling bin.

Rot – Compost your food waste and use it to fertilise your plants and many grow a few veggies or salad leaves of your own.

If you want to find out more you can read my Blogs on Homemade Natural Cleaning Products  and 10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste for some ideas on how to get started.

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