I’ve always thought I was doing ok for the environment – I have reusable shopping bags, I bought a reusable water bottle and try not to buy bottled water, I have solar panels and I recycle everything our council will collect. But then I watched the heart-breaking film A Plastic Ocean and realised there is so much more to do.

The film (it’s on Netflix if you haven’t seen it) shows birds filled with plastic. Their stomachs are so full of plastic pieces they can’t eat or fly, and so eventually die a painful death. It also shows the extent of plastic filling the sea.

It’s so sad, and also mortifying, when you realise you’ve unwittingly contributed to this mountain of plastic. When I looked round my house after watching the film I realised there was SO MUCH plastic everywhere. Plastic bags and bottles are just the start of it.

So much of the food I buy, as well as practically every internet purchase, comes wrapped in plastic. Bin bags. Yogurt. Milk. Pizza. Shampoo bottles. Pens. Toilet paper. Dishwasher tablets. All in plastic. Unwanted straws are added to my drinks in restaurants. When you really start to look around it’s almost endless.

As this month is plastic free July, I’ve been looking for tiny but super easy ways to reduce plastic…

1. Switch your cotton buds

Stop using cotton buds or switch to non-plastic varieties (see the Switch the stick campaign by City to Sea).

2. Use reusable sanitary protection

Tampons and sanitary pads invariably come wrapped in plastic and also get flushed into the sea. Switch to reusables like Mooncup and Thinx and you’ll also save a ton of money in the long run.

3. Order from shops that use less plastic packaging

It’s surprisingly hard to do to this, but Surfdome delivers in cardboard boxes not plastic bags (although the products often still come plastic).

4. Buy less food in plastic packaging

Not all food packaging is evil –a lot actually helps reduce food waste because it helps keep the food fresher for longer. That said, plenty of food comes unnecessarily packaged in plastic and you can often opt for the loose version or products in paper or glass packaging.

5. Buy in bulk

It’s not easy to get rid of all plastic containers, but by buying in bulk you can at least use only one container rather than many. I’ve found things like yogurt and shampoo are often available to buy in larger, longer-lasting containers. Shampoo bottles are also accepted at a lot of recycling centres – find your nearest here.

Tiny, easy ways to use less plastic

Main image: Plastic Ocean.

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