how to go plastic free eco living family travel explore reduce single use plastic

How To Reduce Single-Use Plastic In Your Daily Life

What is the problem with plastic?  Is it really that bad?  What can I do about it? We answer your questions in the mother of all eco-friendly posts. You will find practical tips on how to reduce single-use plastic in your life and inspiration to go plastic-free using cool eco-friendly products to help you get started.

This is a long post, I won’t lie, so if you’re in a hurry, you can use the links in the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections that interest you.

In short, we are killing our planet and we are doing it at an alarming rate, but there is something you can and should do about it TODAY!

Family Travel explore reduce single-use plastic
Media Source: The Scientist

First off, let me congratulate you if you are fully informed of the problem and already make a conscious effort, in whatever shape or form, to reduce the dreadful effect of single-use plastic, pollution and global warming.

From the top of our hearts and from the bottom of our oceans: Thank you Thank you.

Now please do a bit more and share this post so that we can get more people to follow in our footsteps. And please please please share your tips and experience by commenting below? We need to hear it.

kids having fun family travel explore mat meg mel

My Perspective

My biggest dream is that all children must live free of child abuse and poverty. I just want us to rescue all of them, put them in a warm bath, a warm bed, fill their bellies with warm food and keep them safe. Every child is entitled to at least that little. Hear hear! You say.

I don’t know how, but I do know that one day when my own children are set free – hopefully as well adjusted, well-loved and well-cared for adults and hopefully at the age of 18 and no later – I will have saved at least three!

But my heart is heavy today because I fear there won’t be a one day.

Dramatic, I know, but this time, not overly. Not with the speed at which earth is dying and not with the way we humans choose to live and have been living for the last one hundred years, more pointedly, the last few decades.

The danger is real. Many people still don’t know or understand what’s going on. The truth is that it’s almost too late to save our planet from the devastating effects of pollution and global warming.

extinction rebellion banner
Plastic pollution is part of the environmental crisis we face. Visit Rebellion Earth to see what our youth is doing in The Extinction Rebellion and support them!
eco friendly family travel explore reduce single use plastic

There may not be an inhabitable world for our children’s children, to grow up, live and thrive in.

Unless we get to work.

NOW!

And that goes for all of us. Every human; man, woman and child, who values fresh air to breathe, fresh food to eat and a place to live – like… say, Earth.

Eco warrior certificate to reduce single use plastic Family Travel Explore

Join The Squad

One thing we can do for all children right now, today, is to get up off our derrieres and first save the planet for them, right? And that you can do by making small changes to your daily routine.

Grab your natural, organic, reusable, bio-degradable superhero cape and be the fierce eco-warrior you never knew you wanted or needed to be.

But how Lindsy?

Choose two or three things to try this week and join an elite squad of eco-warrior just by reducing the amount of single-use plastic you buy and use every day!

If you commit to trying at least 2 or 3 eco-tips today and let me know in the comments below or by email which ones you picked, I’ll even email you your own special Eco-Warrior certificate! You can download a PDF certificate and issue it to yourself or friends and family, stick it on the fridge and take pride in the fact that you’re taking action.

What Is The Problem With Plastic?

The problem with plastic is that we cannot get rid of it! We invented plastic a hundred years ago to be durable and long-lasting.

It’s cheap to make, but expensive and complicated to destroy. The destruction process causes more forms of harmful pollution, such as air pollution.

Most plastics can only be recycled once. Around 50% of the plastic that people use are used only once!

The body can absorb plastic chemicals. Approximately 93% of Americans who are age 6 and above have tested positive for BPA.

The amount of plastic thrown away ANNUALLY is enough to circle the earth four times!

It takes more than 400 years for a single plastic toothbrush to decompose!

In Los Angeles, around 10 metric tons of plastic fragments such as soda bottles, straws, and grocery bags are thrown into the Pacific Ocean. That’s one city!

Ocean reefs are dying all over the world, including the Great Barrier Reef. I haven’t seen it yet. The Maldives are sinking because of rising sea levels. I haven’t been there yet either. Irrespective of my travel frustrations – which in itself can cause a serious carbon-footprint dilemma – more islands and seafront towns face imminent danger because of global warming. Plastic pollution greatly contributes to the issue.

Recently, I watched a program where they investigated what happens to plastic waste in Britain and found that it ended up in China. The people were pleading for them to stop sending and dumping waste in their oceans and on their shores because it’s not only killing the environment, but they are suffering from serious illness together with their children because of it!

About 97% of plastics ever made still exist. 

How shocking!

Apart from the small amount of plastic that is incinerated, every other piece of plastic ever made continues to exist in some form or shape. Read This Article

Just think about it. Where does it go? The problem of plastic pollution is bigger than you and I thought.

It has far-reaching and long-lasting consequences that will affect you directly if it hasn’t already.

But Where To Begin?

I’ll be flattered if my post alone propels you into action-gear. However, I will understand if you need more.

Cuddle up with any Blue Planet movie by Sir David Attenborough tonight to get a beautiful glimpse of the ugly truth.

Countries must introduce a law to stop the manufacturing of single-use plastic across the world IMMEDIATELY, thereby forcing companies to reclaim plastic waste and use that instead in the manufacturing process. There sure is plenty enough of it going around already. We don’t want more!

THE END IS NIGH FOR THROUGH-AWAY PLASTIC: The EU bans single-use plastic!

We want to see more of this.

No more plastic
Big chain restaurants taking a stand against plastic pollution and doing their part to reduce the single-use plastic!

You’ll be as affected as I was to watch a mother sperm whale swim around for days with her dead baby, not knowing why her nursing calf is gone. It was killed by the deadly toxins in her milk, which she got from the plastic contaminated fish she feeds on.

Or at the thousands of baby leatherback turtles who swim out to sea to find a safe place to feed and grow, but instead get caught and strangled in drifting plastic waste and, unable to feed themselves, starve.

All needles, senseless, and preventable deaths.

ocean-plastic-pollution

Or watch Albatross by Chris Jordan. I’ll warn you, it’s slow-moving and the kids got bored fast, but the images will get the message across. The artist shows you, in detail, how our carelessly discarded plastic waste causes the slow, agonising death of thousands of sea birds on a remote island called Midway, located more than two thousand miles from the nearest continent in the Pacific Ocean. Far-reaching consequences indeed.

Not now, but after you’ve read this post, just do a quick Google and YouTube search for plastic pollution. You’ll be shocked at the facts and figures, not to mention the devasting images we never see in our shiny plastic-wrapped lives.

You’ll find the need to take action. No-one can say or should be able to say that they did not know and that is why we must help to create awareness.

What Can We Do To Reduce Single-Use Plastic Pollution?

If we, the consumers, you and me, make the conscious decision today, to change the way we shop, eat, live in a way that will reduce single-use plastic every day, organisations will be forced to change and to take action! It’s simple economics: if we keep buying it, they will keep making it.

The thing is, there are people who have been fighting to reduce plastic pollution for many many years, but why are there still so many of us who are oblivious to the struggle? Who refuses to do something about it?

And why are we not all doing our part?

I’m the worst of all, I admit. I’m lazy when it comes to things that make me do more than I absolutely have to. The ‘have to‘ part is almost always debatable and it’s easy for me to justify putting it off for so many reasons.

We’re all busy! Who has time to rinse the darn glass bottles? So instead of putting it in the recycling box, it goes in the general rubbish bin. The black one. The evil one with all the bad stuff that we cannot recycle, that goes to the rubbish tip and goodness-knows-where else, likely ending up in our waterways and oceans to poison sea life and in turn, us.

Organic handmade shampoo and conditioner
Organic handmade shampoo and conditioner

I don’t have the time or the energy to make my own shampoos and soaps or to leave the concoction on for twenty minutes at a time for-crying-out-loud! But there’s a solution. Just buy the organic, handmade soaps that come in eco-friendly packaging.

We’ve known that we have to recycle for a long time and I did it as long as it was easy enough and didn’t require too much effort. Right? That was me for too long; too busy and comfortable to be inconvenienced with it all.

Now, I rinse, recycle or repurpose every glass bottle. I separate and recycle everything I can find and I’ve signed up to start living a plastic-free life. I can’t stand plastic straws or drinking coffee in a takeaway cup. Buying a drink in a plastic bottle is a scary thought. Even the sight of a plastic-wrapped bread makes me stop and think about where that plastic wrapping will end up?

If we do this right, our children will grow up with the eco-friendly mindset that is vital to our global conservation effort.

single-use plastic

Create Awareness

We will, and you should too, tell everyone who wants to listen about the problem and, more importantly, about the solution to plastic pollution and how to reduce single-use plastic. Believe it or not, there are many people around the world who’ve not even heard of recycling or about the environmental dangers we face together.

While I can’t see our house being 100% plastic-free and going green won’t happen overnight, it’s easier to start living a more environmentally friendly life than you think!

Eco-Friendly Starter Kit Gift Boxes

Click here to view our new sustainably produced eco Living range

10 Tips To Help You Reduce Single-Use Plastic Pollution

The bad word of the century, in terms of plastic pollution, is ‘single-use‘ and the keyword is ‘reusable‘.

Things you can do to reduce single-use plastic – some you probably didn’t even know contained plastic – is to stop smoking, stop using disposable razor blades (ok, that’s obvious), stop chewing gum and stop using certain types of Facewash. A tube of Facewash can contain up to 300 000 plastic beads!

With that in mind, here are ten more tips and products to get you going in the right direction today.

1. Reusable Straws

Plastic straws are an unnecessary evil and one of the biggest through-away plastic contaminants on earth! This one we can all do to reduce single-use plastic.

I’m not a fan of paper straws and they’re not truly reusable, are they? They look beautiful at parties, but they get soggy and soft after a few sips so they’re not suitable for longterm use. Stainless steel or bamboo straws are better options. Telescopic straws are even handier because they fold down small enough to fit into your pocket.

If you don’t have a reusable straw when you’re out, choose not to take a straw and join the #strawless movement on social media. Even our children are happy to have drinks without straws because they’ve seen the devastating effect straws have on our oceans. We’re so used to drinking with straws when we’re out, that we forget to refuse it!

emergency water filter straw
Water filter straw

Water filter straws can help to reduce single-use plastic because you won’t have to buy bottled water anymore. You can drink straight from any water source, even in developing countries. Simply refill your water bottle direct from the source and drink through the emergency water filter straw. They’re a must-have when camping, hiking and travelling.

Read Why You Should Absolutely Never Use A Plastic Straw Again

Reusable foldable travel cup
Telescopic silicone cup

2. Reusable Foldable Travel Cups

You don’t need to take the disposable coffee cup at the coffee shop just because they give it to you. Have your reusable cup ready and ask if they will make your take away coffee in your own cup. Many major coffee chains are not yet geared to recycle disposable cups. Make it easier by being prepared. Telescopic cups can be folded small enough to fit in your bag or they come with a carabiner to attach to your bag or backpack.

Reusable Eco-Friendly Bamboo Travel Cutlery

3. Reusable Travel Cutlery

Carry your own reusable travel cutlery set so that you won’t have to use through-away cutlery when you’re out and about. You can reduce single-use plastic pollution every time you get a takeaway if you’re prepared.

If a portable bamboo cutlery set is not your style, the stainless steel dinnerware might suit you better. You may have to leave it in your checked baggage during flights because I’m not sure you’ll be allowed to take it onto a plane in carry-on luggage for security reasons. Do check with your airline.

My telescopic straw, foldable coffee cup and bamboo cutlery set, neatly fit into my handbag or backpack without taking up too much space. If I use a smaller bag, they can all clip onto the outside with handy carabiners and if one or two hang on the outside, people will see and ask about them, won’t they? And there you go spreading awareness.

4. Organic Handmade Soap

An alternative to shop-bought shampoo, conditioner and shower in plastic bottles, is natural handmade bars made of pure organic vegan-friendly ingredients. Try it out before you ditch the idea. It’s certainly a great option for someone like me who doesn’t always get the self-made version done in time, on time, just right or at all. The wash pouches help with the foaming action to build up that nice lather we love so much.

5. Eco-Friendly Organic Toiletries

Basic products that you have to buy anyway. When you’re current plastic version is ready to be retired, check locally if it can be recycled, dispose of it responsibly and buy sustainable eco-friendly alternatives. I’m trying them all out myself and I can tell that they work just great and they are worth every penny because each help to reduce single-use plastic. Anti-static bamboo combs, bamboo toothbrushes, cotton swabs, tube squeezers, are all basic items that get the job done while being kind to the environment.

6. Reusable Feminine Hygiene Products

Did you know that sanitary pads consist largely of plastic? A disposable sanitary pad requires about 500–800 years to decompose. Thousands of tons of disposable sanitary waste is generated every month all over the world. The toxins in female sanitary products are not only harmful to your body, but they seep into ground soil at landfills, poison the environment, cause horrific odour pollution and widespread health problems.

Healthier options are washable cloth pads and silicone menstrual cups. Silicone is safe because it does not leak chemicals and as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic, it decomposes more easily without spreading toxins.

Use your cup together with a washable cloth pad during heavy flow and switch to one or the other on lighter days. Menstrual cups and reusable pads may be more expensive than a box of tampons, but with proper care can last for many years.

Yes, it’s a big adjustment for us and it will take time to get the hang of it, but it is so worth the effort ladies!

Click Here for Reusable Shopping Bags

7. Choose Items That Are Packaged Plastic-Free

This is harder said than done, I know. Once you’re aware of the issue, you notice that almost everything comes wrapped in plastic! It’s the same as when you get a new car. Suddenly you notice that everyone’s driving it when you’ve never seen them on the road before.

The sad thing is that most crinkly plastic packaging and plastic bags cannot be recycled. Check the back of the package to see if it is recyclable or not. Shop for fresh produce at your local farmers market where you can buy fruit and veg loose. Opt for unwrapped items in the supermarket if they have it.

Use your own reusable mesh bags to bundle lose produce or use the paper bread bags available at farmers markets and stores. Sometimes you just have to ask for them. If you have the option to choose between something packaged in plastic or in a cardboard box, go for the latter. Should you have no alternative, at least check if the plastic packaging is recyclable.

Make sure you always have a reusable foldable shopping bag at hand. They easily fit into a purse or pocket, but unfold to a large size, perfect for those impulse buys when you would normally end up using a dreaded plastic bag.

repurpose reduce single-use plastic
Photo Credit: The Owner Builder Network

8. Repurpose

Repurpose the jars, cans, plastic bottles, ice cream tubs your groceries come in. Wash and use what you can in the house instead of buying more Tupperware and unnecessary containers. Drive down consumerism by not buying everything brand new, but find ways to make old things into new creations.

If you’re a bit like me and need inspiration for this sort of thing, you can find great repurposing ideas here, here and here.

9. Make It From Scratch

Instead of buying it in a plastic bottle, make what you can from scratch. Yes, it’s cheaper and easier than you think and there are some cracking recipes out there for you; really easy recipes that even I not only want to but manage to make. From homemade shampoo and conditioner to cleaning products, you can make it with chemical-free ingredients, which you may already have in your kitchen. It’s worth a try!

HOMEMADE SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER

I’m currently trying out poo-free hair wash. It’s not what you think! Poo-free is short for shampoo-free, but because the wash is chemical-free you can call it poo-free in that sense! You use baking soda and water, and you can choose to rinse with apple cider vinegar and water or not. It works for some and not for others. Here’s a fun post for you about how to go Poo-Free

Some of the best ingredients that you can use for hair treatment is mayonnaise (apparently a great moisturising hair mask on its own), coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, banana and yoghurt.

Read this blogpost for awesome homemade treatment recipe ideas. Find more recipes and reviews here and here.

reduce single-use plastic. homemade cleaning products
homemade cleaning products
HOMEMADE CLEANING PRODUCTS

You can buy chemical-free cleaning products from eco-conscious shops, but the problem we want to solve is continuously buying the product in plastic containers. For great ideas and recipes to make your own chemical-free cleaning products read this post and this one.

HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE

Easy homemade toothpaste recipe’s from authoritydental.org

Baking Soda & Water

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 drop of your favourite essential oil(s)
  • A few drops of water

Baking Soda, Salt, & Water

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 3 drops of your favourite essential oil(s)
  • A few drops of water

Baking Soda & Coconut Oil

  • 2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 10 drops of your favourite essential oil(s)
Photo Credit: Paleohacks.com

10. Opt For Sustainable Plastic-Free Products

Select products made of metal or sustainable wood, such as bamboo. Silicone products are a more eco-friendly alternative to plastic and so is glass. Buy silicone, stainless steel and glass for your kitchen. Get wooden toys for the kids, search for natural organic and bio-degradable products everywhere else.

Please read this super post by Anna & Anthony of Green Mochila blog about responsible eco travelling.

Read this Friends Of The Earth Post About Plastic-Free Alternatives

The green options are out there for you to find. They may be a tad more expensive than cheap plastic versions but think of the impact those few extra pennies will have on the future of our planet and the health of our oceans. Remarkable!


In full disclosure, the products referred to in this post are for sale on my own website www.getthingumajigs.com. Delivery of items that are not in stock with me can take from 3 to 8 weeks, depending on where you are in the world. You can probably get these products faster from Amazon, but hopefully not cheaper if you take into account that I do not charge for delivery. Please feel free to contact me directly on email should you have any queries: lindsy at familytravelexplore dot com

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How To Reduce Single-Use Plastic In Your Daily Life

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