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Why should we reduce the amount of plastic we use?

Did you know that in Britain, we use 13 billion plastic bottles every year? Around half of them are recycled, but that leaves 7.7 billion that go unrecycled.

Thankfully, the culture around plastic usage is changing.

At the moment, plastic bottles make up around a third of all plastic pollution in the sea - and they take around 450 years to disintegrate.

What’s more, around 700,000 plastic bottles are littered in the UK every day. It’s a problem, but one we can tackle with some simple acts.

At the bottom of this article, we’ve listed out 15 ways you can help to reduce our collective plastic usage.

Bottled water: the facts

Bottled water has a huge carbon footprint. It’s over 1,000 times that of tap water. In fact, a 2013 study estimated that it takes 1.39 litres of water to produce a single litre of packaged water.

If we stopped producing plastic bottles, we’d save more greenhouse gas emissions than if we scrapped 1 million cars.

Eradicating plastic bottles entirely might be a little ambitious, but the 65% reduction by 2025 target is certainly doable. It’s set to create over 115,000 jobs, too!

Why your reusable coffee cup matters

In the UK, 2.5 billion coffee cups a year are thrown away. Around 1% of them get recycled. Sounds small? That’s because most coffee cups have a coating that means they can’t be easily recycled. Remember: bringing your reusable coffee cup could have a huge impact on our recycling culture.

Reducing plastic pollution is something we can all do together.

Here are 15 quick tips you can put into action today.

  1. Always bring a refillable water bottle…
  2. ...and a coffee cup, too!
  3. Replace disposable sandwich bags and cling film with tupperware (it’ll keep your lunch better protected, too!)
  4. Say no to plastic straws and disposable cutlery
  5. Get ahead of the plastic cotton bud ban and start buying plastic-free versions (Superdrug’s Cotton Paper Buds are only £1.45 for 80)
  6. Sanitary and nappy products have plenty of plastic-free alternatives - keep an eye out for them
  7. Get your milk delivered in reusable glass bottles. Luckily for our vegan friends, a lot of dairy-free milk alternatives already come in plastic-free bottles.
  8. Carry a tote or two and save money on plastic bags at the supermarket
  9. Scrap chewing gum. Did you know that most gum contains plastic, talc or latex products?
  10. Avoid food with excessive packaging and use refill stations for liquid cleaning products
  11. Reduce microfibres from washing fabrics
  12. If you have some single use plastic on you while you’re out and about, keep your eyes peeled for kerbside recycling stations (or just hold onto it ‘til you get home)
  13. Always check the recycled content information on any plastic items you’re buying
  14. If it’s safe and sanitary, pick up any discarded plastic bottles you see lying around
  15. Lobby your local MP, sign petitions and make your voice heard. Find their contact details here.