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It's easy to look at those sad, sad pictures of marine animals, trapped by plastic rings or swallowing plastic bags, and get discouraged by the current state of humanity.
But with 8 million metric tonnes dumped in the ocean every year, the issue cannot afford to be ignored any longer.
Everyone wants to help, it seems, but not everyone knows how.
It is my personal belief that living plastic-free is impossible from where I currently live. For example, I would choose paper bags over plastic ones 100 percent of the time, but the option isn't there in most supermarkets.
I do find myself annoyed and upset most days, but that doesn't mean I have given up and forgotten about the plastic problem. I have managed to change a few things in my day to day life without sacrificing the quality of the things I use.
So, without further ado, here are five cheap and easy ways to reduce plastic usage...
Reusable Water Bottles
Average Price: £5 to £20
I used to travel away from home for 12 hours most days to study a very manual subject that involved being on my feet most of the day. Needless to say, I drank a lot of water.
I remember sitting in the back of my mum's car and looking at the little pocket on the back of my seat to see it full of water bottles, built up over a week. Seeing them all lined up made me undertake a little experiment:
To measure my routine water intake and how that correlated to the number of water bottles I used. The results were as follows:
I had been using up two full plastic water bottles per day. However, I was refilling and traveling with one each day, meaning that the actual water bottle usage was one (1) new bottle per day.Initially, I thought this wasn't so bad, but then I had a little thought:
- Seven (7) bottles per week...
- 30 bottles per month...
- That's 365 bottles per year!
I knew, for a fact, I would not recycle every single one of those bottles.
So, I did my research and came across the reusable water bottle!
It is worth noting that I am one of those people, yes, one of those "tap water tastes worse than bottled water!" people. I know, and I'm sorry.
But this led me to an even better discovery: A reusable water bottle that filters as you drink!
Because of this, the bottles and filters cost me around £18. However, I did find that bottles without filters are much much cheaper.
Bars of Soap
Average Price: £8 to £30
This is one of the changes that requires you to pay for quality. I have, so far, exchanged my body wash for bars of soap. This has cut my body wash plastic bottle use by 100 percent (an encouraging statistic). However, it has raised the amount I usually spend on body wash by 400 percent (eek!).
Because I am taking the change step by step, so as not to interfere with my skin or hair health, I have not exchanged my shampoo or conditioner as of yet, but it is very much in the pipeline as the option is available to me.
Average Prices: £5 to £13
A simple story: I bought them online. They're toothbrushes that work just the same as regular ones. 10 out of 10. Buy them already!
Average Price: £20 to £50
This is more of an investment. Most reusable razors are made from high-quality metal and wood.
The one I bought is sturdy, easy to disassemble for cleaning, and very efficient—and because you can buy lots of replacement razors for a cheap price, the maintenance of such an item is literally pennies.
However, this was one of the bigger changes on the list because the razor does not adjust or tilt as you shave, meaning it takes a bit of practice. I would recommend using rivers of shaving cream when you first start!
Use the options available to you.
This change is an easy one if made possible by the powers at be.
For example, you're going to buy a fizzy drink from a supermarket. You enter and see 500ml plastic bottles and 250ml cans of the same drink. It is more environmentally conscious to buy two cans since aluminum takes 200 to 500 years to break down naturally, while plastic bottles can take up to 1,000 years to decompose fully.
The only requirement for this method to work is if the supermarket itself has the aluminum can option available.
Some more examples of things companies can make available to people:
- Paper over plastic straws.
- Wooden over plastic cutlery.
- Glass containers over plastic ones.
And many more!
If the plastic-free option is there, then choose it every time to encourage the companies to make the change, and put out the option in the future.
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