The Impressionist.


It’s fair to say that plastic pollution has been in the news a lot lately.

From headlines about islands of plastic to documentaries on how animal habitats are being destroyed, there’s really no escaping the huge harm we as a species have inflicted. But what can we – as individuals – do about it? Well, The Impressionist has compiled 5 useful tips to help you make a difference.

Well, The Impressionist has compiled 5 useful tips to help you make a difference.

Forget plastic bottles, go reusable.

According to figures released by the Guardian, more than half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold every year by the end of the decade. This means roughly 20,000 bottles are being bought every second!

Whilst more bottles are being made with recyclable materials, we’re just not keeping up with our recycling. In 2016 less than half of plastic bottles bought were collected for recycling, and only 7 per cent of those were turned into new bottles!

So how do we stop these bottles ending up in landfill or the ocean?

Easy, invest in a reusable bottle. You can even get one made out of reusable stainless steel, so you cut plastic completely out of the equation.

Refuse the plastic straw.

The Marine Conservation Society estimates that the UK uses 8.5 billion straws a year. These straws are made from plastics like polypropylene (also used for things like packaging and labelling) and polystyrene (also found in protective packaging, takeaway containers, and plastic cutlery) which can take hundreds of years to decompose.

Some restaurants including Wagamama, JD Wetherspoon and Pizza Express have begun phasing out plastic straws and providing them only when requested by customers.

We can help in this effort by first of all not requesting plastic straws in the first place. If you really like having your drink through a straw there are alternatives like glass, stainless steel or even bamboo straws!

Don't count the coffee cups.

According to the Environmental Audit Committee report, the UK produces 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste a year. To put that in perspective that’s the same weight as over 2,300 double decker buses!

You might be thinking to yourself, “but I thought coffee cups were made out of paper!” Unfortunately, coffee cups come with a plastic polyethylene lining which is expensive to recycle (Polyethylene is also the most common form of plastic and is the same found in plastic bags and bottles). So how do we combat this? You guessed it: reusables.

From reusable coffee mugs to thermoses, there’s loads of ways you can still get your morning cup of coffee without contributing to landfill waste.

And there’s more! Some retailers like Pret A Manger and Costa offer you a discount when you bring a reusable cup instead of opting for the disposable kind. You can save money and the environment!

dead1 Image Courtesy: Janet McKnight, Flickr

Shop Smart.

From ready meals to fruit and veg, plastic has found its way onto almost every shelf in our shops. An investigation by The Guardian revealed that Britain’s leading supermarkets create more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.

From bulk buying with less individual packaging per item to refill shops where you can take your own container for your groceries, you don’t need to stick to mainstream supermarkets.

Where we spend our money shows retailers what we want from our shops.

The Zero Waster has compiled a list of shops across the UK, ranging from plastic-free to zero wasters. Have a look to see what’s near you!

dead1 Image Courtesy: Killerturnip, Flickr

Swap out disposable bags for reusable ones.

Since the UK’s 5p plastic bag charge was introduced in 2015, their use has seen a huge fall. According to government figures, between 2016 and 2017, 83 per cent fewer plastic bags were sold compared to 2014 by big retailers. This means over 6 billion fewer plastic bags were used!

But we can’t stop there, there’s still plenty of plastic bags being used. Next time you pop down the shops take a reusable canvas bags or even a trusty rucksack, and say good riddance to disposable bags at the checkout.

So hopeful with these 5 simple tips you can start to make a difference in how you use plastic.

Feature image courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters.