It's no secret that our planet is struggling to cope with our single-use habits. Every year, around 150 million tonnes of single use plastic are produced, and more than 8 million tonnes of this is dumped into the sea, wreaking serious havoc on the environment. The UN recently warned that we have only 12 years to limit the dangerous impact of climate change – and the changes that need to be made aren't just imperative for big companies and corporate giants – hell no. It's normal people like us who need to look at our daily habits and make small changes to our lives.
We don't want to get all preachy on your asses – far be it from us to tell you how to live your lives – but for those of you who are interested in making a few small changes that add up to make a big difference, here are our top tips for cutting back on single-use plastic.
1) Buy a reusable water bottle
Forget buying a flimsy plastic bottle of water every day – invest in a good quality reusable bottle instead, and fill it up for free. As well as filling it up at home, at work, and in the library, make sure you check out the Refill scheme – an amazing initiative that lists nearby places around the country where you can refill your water bottle, completely free of charge. They've got a free app so you can always scout out refill stations exactly when and where you need them, and if you're looking for a stylish reusable bottle, they've designed a seriously chic, durable option – check it out here.
Cost of reusable water bottle: £5 – £25, depending on brand/style – a cost that you'll soon offset by not purchasing single use water bottles.
Plastic saved: if you typically buy a bottle of water every working day of the week, you'll cut back on around 270 plastic bottles per year.
2) Use Wriggle's BYO lunchbox scheme to cut back on single-use takeaway food packaging
Working with hundreds of restaurants, cafes and street food traders, Wriggle know just how problematic the takeaway food industry is in terms of the amount of single-use packaging it generates. Picking up and transporting your takeaway wrap, your lunchtime burger, and your little healthy salad box typically requires a whole lot of single-use stuff – boxes, tubs, cartons and napkins – and we want to do our bit to offset that.
We've just launched BYO Lunchbox – our initiative to help customers and the food industry to ditch single-use plastics and packaging. The scheme is simple: grab yourself one of our super-stylish reusable bamboo lunchboxes, and take that with you when you pick up a takeaway lunch from tonnes of cafes, restaurants and street food stalls around the city – see who's participating in the scheme by clicking here. The high quality, organic bamboo lunchboxes are BPA free, eco-friendly and dishwasher safe, and are super roomy – perfect for transporting lunches of all shapes and sizes.
Cost of Wriggle's reusable bamboo lunchboxes: £5
Single-use packaging saved: this depends how regularly you go for lunches, but since on average 75% of the British public buy their lunch each day rather than bringing in a packed lunch, switching to a reusable lunchbox could soon save you a LOT of single-use packaging. Not to mention these lunchboxes are cute AF.
3) Buy a reusable coffee cup
This one is simple: get yourself a nice reusable cup for buying hot drinks when you're out and about, and stick it in your bag so it's always with you – no excuses! These days, this is such a no brainer: most cafes offer a discount to customers who bring their own cup, and the government have plans to clamp down on single use cups, too. Why is ditching single use cups such a big deal? Because every year, the UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups, and less than 1% of these get recycled – that's a serious amount of single-use materials hitting the landfills. Switch to a chic reusable cup for your daily caffeine fix, and start doing your bit to tackle the mountain.
Cost of a reusable cup: £5 – £15
Single-use materials saved: if you bought one takeaway coffee every morning on your way to work in 2018, that would be 261 single-use takeaway cups. Switch to a reusable, save money, and do your bit.
4) Stop ordering food online and shop local
Although convenient, ordering your shopping online means that more often than not, it comes swaddled in a surprising amount of plastic wrappers, bags and boxes – and by the time it's delivered, it's too late to choose a plastic-free alternative. Head out to your local green grocer instead, and opt for loose, locally sourced vegetables with fewer air miles, that can be popped in a tote bag or a paper bag.
Cost of shopping local: of course, this depends on where you live and shop, but it's feasible that by switching to shopping locally, you can expect to save money on the delivery of your shopping from an online supermarket. Shopping locally has other benefits, too: getting to know your local greengrocer means you'll get tips on the best seasonal produce; you can support a local independent business, and keep money moving through the local economy rather than pumping it back into the supermarket giants.
Single-use materials saved: this depends on your shopping habits, but you can expect to cut back on a couple of bags' worth of plastic wrapping and plastic bags, too. On that note...
5) Get a tote or string bag for your shopping, and store it in your handbag/rucksack
Research shows that sales of single-use plastic carrier bags have fallen by 86% since the introduction of the 5p charge, but over a billion are still being sold each year – and these bags do not degrade – they stick around forever. Do your bit by grabbing one of those tote bags you'll undoubtedly have lying around and stick it in the rucksack or handbag that you use on a daily basis. Having it with you at all times means you can't be caught short, and you'll be more likely to use it when you're picking up odds and ends, thus saving you from succumbing to the not-so-fantastic plastic.
Cost of a tote or string bag: these are cheap as chips – most of us have several lying around, or you can pick them up in most shops for a couple of quid.
Single-use plastic bags saved: over a billion plastic bags are still being sold per year in the UK – if every single one of us made this simple change, then we could reduce this down to 0.
6) Ditch the plastic straws
Most people have got the message on this one already – there's been an unprecedented amount of publicity around the evils of plastic straws over the last year. In case you didn't get the memo: roughly 8.5 billion plastic straws are chucked out each year, ending up in oceans and on beaches around the world. The government are looking to implement a country-wide ban on plastic straws, and many business – large and small – have already taken a stand against the straw. Set your personal stance on this and say no to the plastic straw where it's offered – if you really need to slurp your liquids, invest in a metal straw instead.
Cost of metal straw: around £2
Amount of single-use plastic saved: reports suggest that roughly 15,700 tonnes of single-use plastic are thrown away each year in the UK, as a direct consequence of single-use straws.
7) Get rid of the cling film
Ditch the cling film and opt for foil or Beeswax Wraps. They’re made using organic cotton, beeswax, pine resin and organic jojoba oil. Totally natural and totally food safe. They keep your food super fresh, they’re reusable, biodegradable, and come in mega cute patterns. All you need to do is use the warmth of your hands to help mould the Beeswax Wrap over a piece of food, bowl, dish, etc. and the wrap will hold its seal once it starts to cool down. The Beeswax Wrap allows your food to breath and keeps your cheese, fruit, vegetables, bread, baked goods and anything else you want to use them for, nice and fresh! Instead of buying these awesome wraps, how about making your own?Try your hand at a workshop like this.
Cost of Beeswax Wraps: £5 - £20
Amount of single-use plastic saved: Cling film is unfortunately entirely un-recyclable so is 100% headed for the incinerator or landfill. Switch to foil and pop it in the recycling after use, or opt for one of these fun beeswax wraps.
8) Say no to plastic cutlery
Grab yourself a lovely little spork set and save yourself up to 466 pieces of unnecessary single-use plastic a year. It’s estimated that disposable cutlery in the UK is used for just three minutes before it is chucked. Bringing your own chopsticks is already huge in China & Japan and is helping to combat the 20 million trees cut down yearly for single-use chopstick use. You’re already used to the idea of taking along your own coffee cup, and hopefully soon container - so why not take along your own cutlery too?!
Cost of portable cutlery: £4 - £18
Amount of single-use plastic saved: It's estimated that 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in just the United States alone.
9) Enlist the Milkman!
Remember the days of getting your ice cold milk delivered fresh every morning? Well guess what, the Milkman’s back and with some awesome added extras. Just pop your postcode into Milk&More and you’ll be able to see who your local milkman is (ours is Alan and we love him). You can also get fresh bread, juice, eggs and loads of other handy household goods delivered right to your door FOR FREE before 7am. Need we say more?
Cost of milk delivery: 81p for a pint of milk and free delivery
Amount of single-use plastic saved: We buy a million plastic bottles per minute and 91% of those are not recycled. Says it all.
10) BYO Beer Bottle
A BYO Beer Bottle revolution is under way in the UK. Trendy, craft beer breweries are now offering a reusable ‘growlers’ that are made from glass or ceramic and typically hold just over three pints. A fab option if you want your favourite brew to take away and enjoy in the comfort of your own home. By cutting out bottling costs it saves the businesses money, and also eliminates single-use waste. There are also some that swear growler beer tastes better too. Grab yourself one from Moor Beer in Bristol or Bison Beer in Brighton.
Cost of a growler: £25 for a Bison Growler full of beer
Amount of single-use plastic saved: The world's beer and soda consumption uses about 200 billion aluminium cans every year. This is 6,700 cans every second. Ditch the tinnies and opt for a growler instead.
What other steps do you take to cut down on your single-use plastic usage? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions and ideas!