10 Ways to Reduce your Plastic Waste

Simple Things you can do to Reduce your Plastic Pollution Footprint

The World’s plastic pollution problem has become a source for global concern over the past few years. Of the 6 billions tonnes of plastic that has been produced since the 1950s, only around 9% is recycled. This means there is a phenomenal amount of plastic and waste in general that escapes our waste management systems and ends up polluting our planet.  Every year approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans and result in harming wildlife and wild animals. It is imperative that we all do our bit to tackle this and reduce plastic waste.

This guide will aim to help you reduce your plastic waste and stop using single-use plastic in as many situations as possible. There are some very simple things that you can do and changes you can make in your life that will make a difference.

Use your own non-plastic carrier bags

Whilst the 5p plastic bag charge has made a big difference in the amount of carrier bags people use, plastic bags remain a big contributor to the world’s plastic pollution problem.

There is a range of alternatives to single-use plastic bags available made from fabrics such as canvas and natural fibres, so you can avoid plastic altogether. They generally aren’t too expensive either so if you are a regular shopper it shouldn’t be too long until your bag has paid itself off.

Get a Reusable Water Bottle

With a million plastic bottles bought around the world every minute, getting yourself a reusable water bottle is a great way to help prevent one of the biggest contributors towards the world’s plastic problem.

The Water-to-Go bottle is a fantastic replacement for single-use plastic water bottles. In addition to the reusable element of the bottle, it’s replaceable filter cartridge is able to filter out well over 99.9% of microbiological contaminants from any fresh water source. This means no matter the situation you’re in you shouldn’t ever need to revert to single-use plastic water bottles.

Just 75cl Water-to-Go filter will replace 400 single-use plastic water bottles. If we all adotped this principle and changed our mindset on plastic, just think of the difference we could make.

Opt for a reusable coffee cup

Similarly to water bottles, using plastic coffee cups for just one tea or coffee is another very wasteful practice, with 7 million disposable plastic coffee cups used every day in the UK.

A number of the big coffee companies such as Starbucks and Costa have started reusable cup initiatives such as money off your coffee if you bring in a reusable cup as well as starting to make their own reusable cups.

There are plenty of options for reusable coffee cups with many at a very reasonable price. So if you take advantage of the extra money off your coffee with the reusable cup you’ll be able to pay it off in no time.

Avoid plastic cutlery and plastic straws

Plastic Cutlery is something that has become common in many takeaway shops and is just another form of unnecessary single-use plastic. A fairly new concept of portable, reusable cutlery is something that can help in preventing the need for single-use plastic knives and forks.

These generally come as a cutlery set of knife, fork and spoon with a case so that they are easy to carry around. Non-plastic straws are also widely available in a similar fashion to the cutlery sets. You can get these in a range of materials including wood, plastic and metal, although these will need cleaning fairly regularly.

Carry your own food and containers

Carrying your own food rather than buying, for example, a sandwich from a shop can help you reduce the amount of plastic packaging you are buying and inevitably your plastic waste.

By packing your own food in reusable containers you won’t need to buy food packaged in plastic, and your reusable containers will mean you won’t need to throw anything away either.

Plastic-free chewing gum

The majority of chewing gums are made up of a synthetic rubber which in essence is a plastic. In fact, 85% of people in the UK don’t know that these chewing gums contain plastic. So when used and thrown away most chewing gums are pretty much a single-use plastic.

So avoiding chewing gum altogether is one way to avoid this form of plastic waste. However, there are a few new companies that have been popping up making natural, biodegradable chewing gums. Iceland has now become the first UK supermarket to stock this form of chewing gum from a brand called ‘Simply Gum’.

Buy in bulk

Unfortunately, in today’s world, there may be times where avoiding single-use plastic is unavoidable. Despite this, there are still ways to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that you buy. One concern is when you buy products, such as clothes online or certain foods, they will always come in plastic packaging. A way to reduce the amount of plastic packaging you’re buying and inevitably throwing away is to buy in bulk.

Often when you buy in bulk you will be able to buy products that come in less plastic packaging than they would have if they were to be bought individually. In the case of online clothing, a lot of retailers will put more than one item of clothing in the same plastic packaging, meaning buying lots of pieces of clothing in one order will reduce the amount of plastic packaging they will send out and in turn the amount of plastic waste you are throwing away.

Keep watching for new anti-plastic initiatives

As people and companies become more aware of the world’s plastic waste problem, companies are starting to take action with new plastic-free products, such as the ones we’ve already discussed in this blog. So make sure you’re keeping an eye out for new ways to reduce your plastic footprint.

You can also get involved with non-profit organisations and initiatives which are helping to combat the plastic pollution problem. Incredible Oceans is a fantastic example of a not-for-profit organisation that are helping protect our oceans from plastic pollution. They run education programmes, events and festivals using charismatic marine creatures to tell critical ocean stories in engaging and entertaining ways.

These changes may seem small but if we all change our mindset around plastic, we can all make a huge difference and preserve the future of our planet. Join us on the Water-to-Go journey and together we will change the world, one bottle at a time.

World Oceans Day 2016

On June, 8th, we celebrated World Oceans Day. The oceans cover 70% of our planet, so it’s fitting that we join together to celebrate them!

World Oceans Day is the official UN-designated international day of ocean celebration. On June 8th each year, we celebrate the ocean, its importance in our lives, and how we can protect it.

This year’s theme is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” and individuals and organisations across the planet are taking action for prevention of plastic pollution in our ocean.

At Water-to-Go, our mission is to eliminate the need for single-use plastic (SUP) water bottles by offering a safe, environmentally friendly alternative, which delivers clean, filtered water, from nearly any source, anywhere in the world.

So, for World Oceans Day 2016, we take a look at SUP water bottles and how they can affect our planet.

worldoceansdayblogPlastic is used everywhere. Why? It’s extremely durable, lightweight, cheap and versatile, which is why it has replaced materials, such as metal, glass and wood. The global production of plastics is now around 265 million tonnes per year! Unfortunately, plastics are one of the most hazardous forms of litter when in our oceans.

Plastics are made from hydrocarbons and hence, very difficult to breakdown. When they’re in the sea, plastic breaks down at a very slow rate.

“Estimates for plastic degradation at sea range from 450 to 1,000 years. However, plastics may never fully degrade; they simply break down into smaller and smaller fragments and ultimately into microscopic plastic pieces or plastic dust.”– Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Pollution Policy & Position Statement.

The Marine Conservation Society, the largest marine charity in the UK, also highlight the amount of plastics that actually end up in our oceans:

“A study of the distribution and abundance of large marine debris on continental shelves and slopes in European seas recorded concentrations up to 101,000 pieces of debris per km2 (Galgani et al., 2000). At most sample stations, plastic (mainly bags and bottles) accounted for more than 70% of the total debris.”

RS25163_DSC_5446The MCS have recorded the shocking amount of plastic waste that is made up from SUP bottles:

“During the 2014 Great British Beach Clean 7,962 drinks bottles and 14,750 caps and lids were found. Plastic drinks bottles accounted for 2.8% of all litter and had a density of 69 items/km. Caps and lids accounted for 5.4% of total litter with an average density of 132 items/km.”

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So, how do SUP bottles make it into our oceans in the first place? Simple, we live in a throw away society. We all know the importance of recycling, however, it’s not always an option, especially when we are out of the house and there are no recycling bins near by. The situation can be even worse when we’re on holiday. You’re in a hot country so are consuming more water to top up your hydration levels. You may choose bottled water for a number of reasons – you don’t trust the local tap water, it tastes better and is convenient. But unfortunately, not all countries have the resources to recycle. That means we just don’t know where it will end up. Either in a landfill or floating in the Sea where it will be broken down into small enough pieces to be eaten and end up in the food chain. Or worse, it could contribute to the 100,000 marine mammals and 1,000,000 sea birds that are killed each year from ingesting plastics.

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So, how can we reduce the amount of plastic bottles in our oceans?

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

The simplest way is to try and reduce the amount of SUP we consume, and when we do use plastic, make sure we can reuse it and recycle it. As previously mentioned, recycling can be hard when we don’t have a special bin outside but it is absolutely vital in order to prevent plastic pollution.

We have partnered with the MCS this June for their ‘Plastic Challenge’. The challenge is to say goodbye to conveniences like pre-packed sandwiches, ready meals and plastic-bottled drinks for a day, a week or the whole month.

MCS offers help and advice through an online community all through the month of June. There is also an online shop with products to help you say goodbye to plastic waste. Our Water-to-Go, 75cl and GO! Filter Bottles are available and to celebrate the Plastic Challenge we’ve got 15% off using the code MCS16 at checkout. Not only do you get a discount, we’ll match the discount and donate 15% directly to MCS.

 

5p for plastic bags in England

From today, (5th October 2015) shoppers in England will be charged 5p for plastic bags in a bid to reduce the plastic waste it causes.

England is the last part of the UK to start charging for bags and dresses with a similar tax already in place in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

However, the new tax does not apply to everyone. Shops with 250 or more employees must charge 5p but smaller shops and paper bags are exempt.

Stores can still provide free bags for customers who are buying uncooked meat or fish, prescriptions, fresh produce (E.g. flowers), and take away food such as chips.

Some environmental campaigners are worried that these exemptions may make this ban less successful then in other parts of the UK.

It is estimated that nearly 8 billion plastic bags are given away in England alone. It is expected that the new levy will reduce that amount by 75%.

The cash generated by the bag tax will be donated to charities nominated by the shops.

Single-use carrier bags can take 1,000 years to degrade. Not only detrimental to wildlife but it is estimated that there are 70 bags per mile on our coastlines.

Do you agree with the charge, or should they be banned completely?

The same argument could be made for single-use plastic water bottles, which are still a huge burden on our ecosystem. Over 70 billion single use plastic water bottles are consumed annually in the US and Europe alone; National Geographic estimate that a maximum of 20% are recycled.