Whether we are going on holiday or going on a picnic, the amount of rubbish we produce and the amount of plastic we use is staggering. Luckily there is a growing number of alternatives on the market, for us to replace unsustainable items with eco-friendly alternatives:
Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials we can use to produce a number of reusable items. These include plates, cups, cutlery and even kitchen roll. It is incredibly easy to grow bamboo, and the versatile grass grows extremely fast.
Opting for a bamboo reusable means that you don’t have to invest in disposable cutlery, that you will then throw away. This will also save you money in the long run.
It might be a good idea to invest in bamboo lunch boxes that you can put your food into. Meaning that you don’t have to buy food which is most likely to be wrapped in plastic or contaminates the packaging with food waste that then cannot be recycled.
Reusable shopping bags
In 2021, the UK Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, claimed that the charge for plastic bags had decreased their sale by 95% in supermarkets. Many people now are opting for reusable bags whether they are made from cotton or a thicker plastic that can be reused again and again. These bags mean you never again have to use a single-use plastic bag.
Many supermarkets also carry out a scheme that if your reusable bag breaks, they will replace it for you if you bring your broken bag back to them.
Make sure you always have a reusable bag on you or in the car, so you always have one handy.
Reusable cups and bottles
When you go to get a hot drink from a café, most of their take-away cups are non-recyclable. This is due to many of them being lined with a plastic that can’t be recycled, or they have been contaminated by the drink you have ordered. Meaning they must be put in the bin and will be sent to landfill.
Alternatively, you can reuse a reusable cup, and many come with a lid in order to keep your drinks hot for longer. These come in a variety of styles and sizes.
If hot drinks aren’t your thing and you prefer to drink water, there is a wide range of water bottles currently on the market. A lot of cafés and restaurants will happily fill up your bottles for free and at certain train stations they have specific refill zones.
Whichever you choose you will be happy to know that you have reduced your need for single-use plastics.
The UK Government has now put a ban on the distribution of plastic single-use straws. Many retailers and restaurants are now opting for paper straws as they are much more environmentally friendly. However, these are still single use and cannot always be recycled due to the contamination from use. There are alternatives, however, including bamboo and metal straws. These straws can be used again and again as they can be washed multiple times. There is nothing stopping you from taking these with you when you go out to eat and saying no to the straws that are offered.
When we have leftovers, make food for a trip out or for when going to work the chances are we have wrapped it in cling film or plastic wrap. Cling film is a very difficult material to recycle, and it often gets thrown into the bin, allowing them to release harmful chemicals as it breaks down. Instead of using plastic to cover your food, try opting for a wrap made with beeswax.
The cotton wraps are lined with beeswax so that they will mould around most foods and containers. Once you have used them wash them and let them dry and then they can be used again. If washed correctly, a beeswax wrap will last for up to a year before it no longer sticks to itself. Therefore, as a green consumer it will have prevented you from using single-use plastic wrap and lowering your carbon footprint as it is not going to landfill. Many beeswax wraps are also compostable so it will never have to see a landfill.
One of the biggest pains of eating on the go is the mess, especially if you have children with you. This means that you usually reach into your bag for a wet wipe to clean your messy hands and face. In one day, roughly 30 million wet wipes are added to landfill sites, and they take years to biodegrade.
As an alternative you could use a cloth napkin, there are range to choose from with various patterns. For tougher messes you could wet the cloth with water from your reusable water bottle. You then take them home and add them to your washing, and once dry you can use them again.