Wednesday 31 May 2017

Take the 100 step plastic reduction challenge

In our modern world is is impossible to avoid plastic.  It is all around us that in many cases we probably do not even notice it yet its negative effect on the planet is devastating.  Plastic is made from fossil fuels that were laid down many millions of years ago, locking up carbon and you can read more about why this is so bad in a recent blog I wrote - 100 ways to reduce your plastic use. Scientists estimate that there are 269,000 tons of plastic pollution may be floating in the world's oceans made up of some 5.25 TRILLION plastic particles.  We are even eating plastic and microplastic particles have been found in mussels, oysters and sea scallops.  It is even estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic, by weight, in the ocean than fish.  That is plastic that YOU and I have used and thrown away. 

Image from the Marine Conservation Society

We absolutely need to reduce how much plastic we use, especially single use plastic.  The Marine Conservation Society is challenging us to The Plastic Challenge and to give up all single use plastic for a month.  Will you join in?  Even if you cannot give up all single use plastic for a month please see what you can do.  Could you swap your ketchup from a plastic bottle to a glass one?  Or what about making some snacks rather than buying plastic wrapped cakes?  Do you really need another toiletry product or could you find those hankies and ditch those plastic wrapped tissues?   There is lots of useful information on the Marine Conservation Society Plastic Challenge website and I can help you a bit more.  Why not use my 100 ways to reduce plastic list to help identify where you are using plastic and how you can ban it from your life for ever.  

Will you take my 100 ways to reduce your plastic challenge too and feed back how your plastic reduction journey is going?  If you blog about it please do add a link in a comment.

Together we can work together to reduce this plastic scourge. 

My plastic reduction successes and failures

Food and Drink, Shopping

1.  Buy food from bulk bins that use paper bags
2.  Store loose food in glass jars - mason or kilner jars look great
3.  Say no to fizzy drinks and water in plastic bottles
4.  Squeeze your own fruit juice
5.  Make your own coleslaw and other salads
6.  Buy loose fruit/veg not those that are pre-packed in plastic bags or trays.  I was saddened to see how much UK fresh produce was plastic wrapped though.
7.  You don't need to place a single fruit or veg you buy in a bag at all
8.  Avoid ready meals
9.  Eat less take-aways
10.  Make your own ketchup/mayonnaise etc or buy these in glass bottles .
11.  Stop chewing gum - it's made from plastic
12.  Grow some of your own food 
13.  Shop at farmers' markets and take your own non plastic bags
14. Use local shops (butcher, baker etc) who will allow you to take your own non plastic bags
15.  Use you milk man
16.  Buy an ice cream cone rather than  plastic wrapped ice cream/lolly
17.  Make your own yoghurt
18.  Make your own snack bars, cakes and biscuits
19.  Avoid multi-packs with products wrapped in plastic film or cans with ring holders
20.  If you must buy something in plastic buy the biggest size possible which contains proportionally less plastic per kg/litre of product
21.  Buy wine with real corks, not plastic
22.  Buy refills which use less plastic packaging than new products
23.  Do not use coffee pods 
24.  Do not buy individually plastic wrapped tea bags

Out and About 

25.  Say no to plastic straws in food outlets
26.  Say no to plastic bags in all shops, not just supermarkets
27.  If you find somewhere that doesn't use plastic throw away cutlery, tell the world about it via your friends and social media.  The Lost Gardens of Heligan use wooden cutlery, not plastic.
28.  Say no to "cardboard" coffee cups - they are lined with polyethylene aka plastic.  Take your own mug instead. 
29.  Take your own wooden chop sticks to your local Chinese restaurant.
30.  Ask for a finger bowl and cloth instead of plastic wrapped wipes in restaurants
31.  Don't buy plastic wrapped magazines

Babies and Children

32.  Switch from disposable nappies to washable cloth ones
33.  Ditch disposable wipes and use a washable cloth
34.  Buy glass feeding bottles
35.  Buy wooden toys
36.  For pack lunches avoid plastic wrapped foods and offer sandwiches wrapped in foil or greaseproof paper, a piece of fruit, a home-made snack and a drink in a reusable bottle
37.  Pass on unwanted plastic toys to younger children/toy libraries/play groups etc


38.  Make your own cleaning products with bicarbonate of soda and vinegar ensuring these are bought in cardboard boxes and glass bottles
39.  Use washing powder sold in cardboard boxes rather than washing liquid
40.  Use soap nuts or washing balls instead of washing liquid
41.  You don't need wipes - use a washable cloth
42.  Use dishwasher tabs in biodegradable film

Personal Care

43.  Ditch disposable razors for a metal safety razor or go hirsute
44.  Use a bar of soap not liquid soap in a plastic bottle
45.  Use shampoo bars
46.  Stop using shower gels that contain micro beads - these are made from polyethylene i.e. plastic - 
47.  Buy wooden handled tooth brushes .
48.  Buy a wooden handled hairbrush
49.  Use washable menstrual products
50.  Make your own remedies for minor ailments eg elderberry port for sore throats stored in a glass bottle .
51.  Use a handkerchief not plastic wrapped tissues
52.  Give up smoking!


53.  Avoid clothes and shoes made from synthetic materials
54.  Make your own clothes using old materiel when you can or upcycling old clothes to new
55.  Buy second hand clothes that have minimal plastic packaging

Around the house

56.  Use glass, metal or wooden storage containers
57.  Use wooden or metal cooking utensils
58.  Do you really need to bag it before you bin it? 
59.  If it's broken can you mend it?
60.  Say no to junk mail - sign up to The Mail Preference Service
61.  Download music and films instead of buying CDs and DVDs
62.  Use matches not a disposable lighter
63.  When doing DIY and house renovations go for natural products - wooden door frames, cotton curtains etc
64.  Use old sheets as dust covers not new plastic ones
65.  Wash and reuse that plastic freezer bag

At work

66.  Take in your own mug for water and drinks from the machines
67.  Use all paper jiffy bags, not those with plastic inside
68.  Buy envelopes without plastic windows
69.  Go for paperless billing to avoid plastic window envelopes .
70.  Buy a "real" pen that uses a refill
71.  Do not upgrade to a new phone etc.  You were quite happy with your old one when you first got it!


72.  So no to plastic pet toys
73.  Avoid plastic feed bowls
74.  Avoid pet food in plastic sachets .
75.  Make your own pet treats

Christmas, Easter, birthdays etc

76.  Give service gifts such as a free baby sitting night, evening at the theatre, a meal out, sponsor a child or support a wildlife/environmental charity
77.  Wrap gifts without sellotape - use raffia or string and get creative
78.  Make decorations from natural materials
79.  Make plastic free gifts such as preserves and handmade clothes/accessories
80.  Send e-cards
81.  At parties ask guests to bring their own cutlery and crockery rather than supplying plastic throw away ones
82.  Make your own chocolate gifts at Easter to avoid all that plastic
83.  Avoid buying online where products are often sent with lots of plastic wrapping
84.  Grow your own flowers/pot plants as gifts

In the garden

85.  Use terracotta or biodegradable plant pots
87.  Re-purpose yoghurt pots as seedling pots .
88.  Use plastic bottles to help direct water to the roots tomato plants etc - details here: water-wise tomatoes
89.  Use polystyrene as crocks in your plant pots
89.  Make your own labels from plastic bottles or buy those made from natural materials

In Summary

For the foreseeable future plastic is going to be part of our everyday lives but we can take steps to reduce how much we use which can be summarised thus:

90.  Get into the habit of seeing where plastic exists is the first step to reducing how much of it you have in your life
91.  Think before you buy and switch to non plastic alternatives where possible - silicone is a safer option
92.  Re-use the plastic you do have as much as you can .
93.  Upcycle plastic into new things
94.  Ask yourself "Do I really need to buy this plastic product?" .
95.  Write to manufacturers to say you are boycotting their plastic based products or packaging
96.  If you must buy plastic then look for second hand rather than new
97.  Work towards eliminating single use plastic in your life
98.  If you have to buy a plastic item (not something in plastic packaging) make it the best quality possible to ensure it lasts as long as possible
99. If you follow the 4 Rs you will help reduce your plastic use - reduce, re-use, repair and recycle (the first 3 being the most important)
100.   Finally and perhaps most important of all we need a fifth R - Raising awareness.  When people are aware of a problem they are much better placed to find a solution so please, share this post and let's help everyone to reduce their plastic habit

Will YOU take the challenge?  Please do let me know how you get on in a comment.  Also drop me a note if you have any other great ideas of how we can all reduce the amount of plastic we use in our lives and more importantly chuck away and I'll add them to a new blog post soon.


  1. When I go shopping I take my own bags and when I get plastic bags I make sure to recycle them by taking them to the supermarket and place them in the recycle bin, I don't like stuff that has a lot of packaging that isn't needed. I rarely use the clothes dryer preferring to hang my washing on the line in order to dry.

    1. In the UK I was really pleased to just be handed the shoes I bought without them being put in a bag ... but then I saw how much fresh produce was plastic wrapped and realise the UK still has along way to go to reduce the plastic scourge ... and the belief by so many that it is necessary. But each step each of us takes to reduce plastic in our lives is s positive one.

    2. I found out recently that many supermarkets take the bags from the recycle bin and throw them in the trash. :(

  2. What a great challenge! I'll have to see how well I'm doing so we can compare. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday Blog Hop!

  3. Fabulous challenged - pinned and shared.

  4. I love this list! I also like how you share what you did well and shared the struggles, too! I do many of these things, but I'm going to try to step it up a bit!

  5. HI Rosie,
    I sure will give it a try, but I do as many of these as I can already, but I think there is few things I could approve in. #GoingGreenLinky Tweeted & pinning.

  6. This is a fantastic lists with tons of great ideas.
    My next step is to purchase a safety razor but they are quite expensive so I want to make sure I get the right one!

    I'd also like to replace the kids plastic water bottles with a non-plastic alternative but I'm not sure what would work.

    Going to share this on my social feeds #GoingGreenLinky

  7. Fantastic list, thanks for sharing. Lx

  8. This is a great list Rosie. Thank you for sharing. #GoingGreenLinky

  9. Rosie,
    These are really great ideas. I never realized how many ways we use plastic. I store in glass and cover and use plates to cover bowls but never thought about straws when eating out or the plastic cutlery- thank you for helping to raise my awareness..

  10. I somehow missed this post earlier in the year but lots of good ideas here. I am trying to cut down on plastic but still have a long way to go - we have recently swapped to bar soap rather than liquid soap.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.