WHAT YOU CAN DO
There are so many ways that you can contribute to tackling plastic pollution. You can volunteer for PFND, become an SAS community leader in your area, donate, make individual changes to your consumption, or educate and inspire yourself and others around you with plastic-free solutions.
INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS - IN THE HOME
As a consumer, there are lots of small changes that you can make to help create the world that you would like to see in the future.
The list of ideas can be daunting, so start with ideas that you can easily manage and fit into your routines. As time goes on you can add more items to your plastic free life. You could start by going plastic free for one or two days a week.
Use up what you have.
There is no environmental advantage to binning plastic items you already have. Use them up, and when they need to replaced, choose items with no or less plastic.
Focus on single use plastic.
We all have plastic items in our homes and Rome wasn’t built in a day. The fastest environmental gains will be made if we reduce or stop single use plastic.
We love the book ‘No More Plastic’ by Martin Dorey which has heaps of ideas and tips. Here’s a few to get you started…
Consider replacing clingfilm with beeswax wraps, compostable parchment paper or recyclable foil.
Re-use plastic tubs while you have them, and consider replacing with glass or Pyrex jars or containers in the longer term.
Airtight glass jars and tins can not only be a plastic free option but can look good in your kitchen, and don’t leech nasty hormone-disrupting chemicals into your food in the way that plastic containers have been proven to.
Bring back the milkman! Consider having your milk delivered in glass bottles (or buy them if you have a local source). You can often have other products such as fruit juice delivered in glass bottles too.
Ditch all those plastic bottles of cleaning products, and instead use some tried and tested natural ingredients instead such as white vinegar, lemons and bicarbonate of soda.
Use brands like Ecover and BioD who sell detergents such as washing up liquid in bulk sizes for refilling your bottles, which not only reduces the use of plastic but can be cost effective too.
Instead of using unsustainable scourers and sponges, think about reusable cloths, loofahs or bamboo bushes.
Opt for wooden or stainless steel washing pegs.
Use a guppie bag in your washing machine to catch microplastic before they head down the drain and out to sea.
Try an eco-egg, soapnuts, or plastic-packaging free detergent – they’re better than you think!
Use laundry powder and dishwasher powder or tablets in boxes rather than plastic bottles.
TOOTHBRUSHES AND RAZORS
Bamboo or wood toothbrushes are widely available, and disposable razors can be replaced with stainless steel versions.
If bamboo brushes aren’t for you, an electric toothbrush where only the head is replaced is more environmentally friendly than a disposable toothbrush.
Also look out for plastic free toothpaste!
LOTIONS, POTIONS & CREAMS
Most bathroom products are packaged in plastic. Why not replace your liquid soaps, shampoo and conditioner with bars
Look out for plastic-free deodorant
Buy face cream in glass jars
Avoid products containing (plastic) microbeads which end up in our waterways
Most loo rolls are wrapped in packaging. Try alternative products such as Who gives a Crap. The loo rolls are delivered to your door in a sturdy cardboard box and pretty paper.
Think before you flush. Only pee, paper, puke and poo should go down the toilet.
PLASTIC FREE PERIODS
Not only are traditional sanitary items disposable, but most sanitary towels are 90% plastic. Switch to more sustainable (and cheaper) menstrual products such as washable pads, menstrual cups, menstrual sponges and organic disposables.
Avoid plastic applicators
WIPES AND BUDS
Ditch the wetwipes. If you really need to use them, opt for reusable cheeky wipes instead.
Cut up old pyjamas or t-shirts for flannels or wipes
Buy reusable cotton make up remover pads
Make sure your cotton buds aren’t on a plastic stick
Balloons are made of plastic and end up either in landfill or, if they are helium-filled, can also end up in our waterways. Why not go for bunting instead – it’s pretty and reusable!
Avoid glitter and man-made confetti: Instead try press-stamping colourful autumn leaves
Get creative with gift wrap – use paper stamps to pretty up brown paper, or why not try reusable cloth gift wrap.
Think before you gift. Could you buy someone an experience, a book or make some baked goods as an alternative to a plastic or plastic-wrapped gift?
INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS - OUT AND ABOUT
Plastic is everywhere – from the coffee shop to the football pitch. So before you head out, make sure you are reusable-ready! You might want to consider keeping some the following in your bag or car:
A reusable coffee cup
A stainless steel or glass water bottle
Cloth or canvas produce and shopping bags
A bamboo or stainless steel reusable straw
Be aware of packaging – try to buy unwrapped fruit, veg and bread where possible. If a supermarket gives you mountains of excess packaging you can always send it back to their freepost address with a note explaining why.
Consider bulk buying - where you can’t do plastic free, it is still possible to get more product for the amount of plastic if you buy in bulk.
Buy from local producers - local produce is less likely to have travelled long distances and be wrapped in plastic.
Take your own containers - whether you’re shopping at the local market or in a supermarket, take your own containers to the butchers, deli, or fishmongers.
Instead of buying bread, biscuits and cakes, why not make your own and reduce unnecessary plastic wrap!
When you have a drink, politely ask for no straw or stirrer. If you’re offered one, perhaps you could suggest that they use other options.
When you have that ice-cream on a hot summer’s day, ask for a cone instead of a plastic lined tub. And request a wooden spoon instead of a plastic one.
Instead of having a take-away coffee, why not take 5 minutes, take a seat and drink out of a china cup? Most take-away coffee cups are not recyclable. Even the compostable cup is not all it’s made out to be – whilst it has a more eco-friendly start in life (made from potato starch instead of fossil fuel-based products), it can contaminate in recycling. In the UK there are very few industrial composting facilities, so your compostable cup is unlikely to make it there. However, DO recycle the plastic lid!
Love pizza? Try to buy pizzas that don’t use plastic or Styrofoam trays or boxes which contain a plastic ‘tables’ in the centre of the box.
BEACH & RIVER CLEANS
Everyone is welcome to join our beach cleans and river cleans, but you don’t have to wait for an organised event, just head out with friends or family, or on your own, and see how much litter you can collect from the shoreline, riverside, and parks. Don’t forget to recycle anything you find when you get home!
SPREAD THE WORD
Share your knowledge and tips with your friends, family and colleagues to encourage them to reduce their ‘plastic footprint’.
Follow and support organisations such as Plastic Free North Devon on Social Media
Contact your local MP
Why not watch ‘A Plastic Ocean’ (available on Netflix) with friends for a deeper understanding of the plastic problem
AND FINALLY… DON’T FORGET THE 4 R’s
Reduce your plastic consumption. Think about it - do you really need it?
Be creative in how you can re-use your plastic. We’ve seen milk bottles turned into bird feeders, and all sorts of wonderful things. Take a pic, tag us on social media if you come up with something new!
Using sites such as Gumtree, or sale and swap Facebook groups can be a great way to get rid of no-longer-wanted plastic products that still have life in them. Be it garden chairs or hair straighteners, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Make sure you explore all of the other avenues before sending something to landfill.
Recycle anything you can no longer use. Make sure you adhere to your local councils’ rules and regulations for recycling. Wash out things that will be recycled, and sort them properly - contaminated recycling refuse is one of the key reasons that recyclable materials end up in landfill.
Check out your local supermarket carparks or community spaces for more niche materials such as textiles recycling.