Since the 1950s we have produced more than 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic. As a cheap, versatile and durable material, plastic is used to make everything from laptops, televisions and mobile phones to food packaging and construction materials – it’s become a staple resource in our everyday lives.
The problem is that our increasing dependency is causing a tidal wave of plastic waste, harming the environment at an accelerated rate. Around 12.2 million tonnes of plastic waste are deposited in oceans every year around the world with the estimation that they now contain 51 trillion microplastic particles – a figure 500 times higher than the number of stars in our galaxy.
Microplastics are everywhere – they have been found to contaminate the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. The only way we can prevent further damage to the environment is to tackle our destructive plastic habit head on, and what better way to start than with Plastic Free July.
Plastic Free July is a global movement, promoting a solution to the worldwide plastic pollution problem. It sees around 120 million participants in 177 countries taking the challenge each year, with everyone making small changes to collectively make a big difference.
Here at Zip, sustainability is incredibly important to us. We want to encourage and enable you to make eco-friendly and responsible choices, which is why we’ve put together a guide to help you reduce your plastic usage throughout July, one day at a time, to ultimately live a plastic-free life:
1. Use a reusable water bottle. One person doing this saves on average 150 single-use plastic bottles from use every year2.
2. Use glass or stainless-steel tupperware. You can use these on the move, to store food, leftovers and more.
3. Utilise reusable carrier bags. Try storing them in your handbag or backpack, car and workplace so you never forget them when at the shops.
4. The top seven supermarkets in the UK sell a whopping 59 billion pieces of single-use plastic every year. You can help to reduce unsustainable pre-packaged plastic usage by bringing your own tupperware to shops, local markets or bakeries.
5. Say no to plastic straws or use reusable alternatives. This will help to cut down on the nearly 5 billion plastic straws that are used in the UK alone every year.
6. Purchase a reusable coffee cup to use on the go. You’ll find that many coffee shops even reward people using reusable cups with discounts!
7. Choose loose-leaf tea. Some tea bags contain plastic, so by choosing to purchase loose-leaf tea you are ensuring no plastic waste goes to landfill from the creation of your perfect cuppa!
8. Instead of purchasing shop-bought snacks, make your own. Snacks usually comes wrapped in plastic packaging, but you can make your own perfectly tasty and probably healthier snacks packaging-free at home.
9. Use beeswax wraps for leftovers to keep them fresh. 100% plastic free, these wraps will ensure food lasts for much longer, while ensuring no plastics will leach into your food when stored.
10. Use bamboo utensils on the go. Bamboo is hard to break and can be reused several times – a must for yummy leftovers!
11. Buy in bulk. A 5-litre washing up liquid will produce less plastic than a smaller alternative.
12. Use dish cloths instead of plastic wrapped kitchen roll. Once used, simply pop in the wash, creating no waste. Think about the money you’ll save from using these time and time again!
13. Use packaging-free shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Many high-street shops now offer this as an option – and most last longer than plastic alternatives too!
14. Switch to biodegradable cotton buds – an eco-friendlier choice.
15. Use a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic alternative. Experience the same levels of cleaning without the plastic waste!
16. Purchase compostable bin bags. Unlike standard plastic bin bags, they will break down into compost over time, working to reduce greenhouse gases.
17. Compost your food waste. This will save it from ending up in a plastic bin bag, instead helping to provide many essential nutrients for future plant growth.
18. Replace your plastic clothes hangers with wooden ones. They will be stronger and more durable, as well as cut down your plastic usage.
19. Most plastics that end up in oceans are carried there by rivers, with plastic bottles being the top polluter. Why not get involved in a local river clean up mission, or if there isn’t one, set one up!
20. Use boxed dishwasher and washing machine powder. You can pick these up from any supermarket, saving on the usual capsule plastic waste!
21. Repurpose your old clothes into new ones. Doing this avoids using unnecessary plastics – did you know that during the creation of a single dress it is likely to be wrapped in plastic on three separate occasions, each time with new packaging and hangers?
22. Use a bamboo hairbrush. As well as being made from a sustainable material, it will promote healthy, shiny hair with less static.
23. Made from the most absorbent material, linen towels are sustainable and naturally biodegradable.
24. Did you know over 2 billion razors end up in landfill every year? Switch to a safety razor that’s built to last a lifetime.
25. Wet wipes are made up of non-biodegradable plastics and make up 93% of sewer blockages. If using wet wipes is unavoidable, look towards purchasing biodegradable or plastic-free alternatives, and never flush them into the water waste system.
26. Upcycle your old furniture or buy second hand instead of purchasing new. Save on the plastic packaging - you’ll be surprised what a lick of paint can do!
27. Use reusable make up pads to remove make up. This will save on the purchase of wipes, cotton pads or other unsustainable plastic alternatives, while also saving you from the extra cost!
28. Use wooden dish brushes to wash up instead of plastic alternatives. The whole thing – even the bristles – is 100% biodegradable, saving on the microplastics produced from plastic alternatives.
29. When purchasing new clothes, opt for natural fibres, or shop second hand. Be wary of materials like polyester and nylon as they release tiny plastic microfibres when washed, which end up in the sea.
30. Did you know that despite stating that they are ‘widely recycled’, only one in ten of three billion milk, juice and soup cartons sold every year are actually recycled? Reduce your milk carton usage by receiving deliveries from your local milkman, or switch to boxed milk.
31. Invest in a mains-fed filtered water system or convince your workplace too! It will provide you with instant great tasting water, ensuring you use your reusable bottle time and time again.