The Plastic Challenge

Or, 13 Easy Steps to Not Fucking Up The Planet Even More

plasticc
Because it’s already pretty fucked up

We all know that unnecessary plastic in our oceans is causing problems. 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year, 50% of which is predicted to have a single-use lifespan. A large amount of this is making its way into the ocean, where it is negatively affecting nearly 700 species.

But all is not lost! Challenge yourself with these easy steps: for everyone from the destitute to those with deep pockets, from the stressed to the time-to-spare and the motivated to the … well … just meh.

EASY-PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY, SINGLE-USE PLASTICS MAKE ME QUEASY!

1. CARRY A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE!

Environmentally friendly and cost effective! Chuck it into your bag before you head out and if you know you’re going to get hit by that caffeine craving, throw in a reusable coffee cup!

2. REFUSE THE STRAW

straws
Little tubes of death

Go on, don’t be shy. Take a big old gulp from that glass! Feels good, huh! Straws have a decimating effect on marine environments, add to the collective effort and refuse the straw.

That being said, if elegantly sipping a straw is more your style invest in some metal straws from Amazon for less than £3!

3. CARRY REUSABLE BAGS

Be brave, take that first step into adulthood – buy that reusable bag! And here’s the important part – remember to take it with you!

4. REUSE 

Sometimes plastic consumption is unavoidable… but that doesn’t mean that it must go in the bin straight afterwards! Get crafty! You can decorate plastic cups for a student pencil pot, milk cartons make excellent plant pots and come Christmas time, you can use plastic containers to present homemade goodies! There are some other great ideas here .

5. BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSHES

Think about the little things. Get yourself a bamboo toothbrush next time your bristles give up for as little as £3. It’ll last longer and less plastic in the ocean from you!

bamboo
Still won’t make up for the fact you forget to floss though


6. PACKED LUNCH

Take a reusable container to work whether stress-eating has you tucking into a pasta bake or you’re on top of your game with your 5-a-day!

You can equally cut down on your food waste, save leftovers and you’ve got yourself a lunch for the next day.

7. SHAMPOO… IN A BAR?

Weird, right? For £6 you can have yourself a shampoo bar that will last up to 6 months. No harm to the environment AND a long-term saving! You can bag yourself a shampoo bar from Amazon, or Lush have some great smelling bars too.

8. AVOID MICROPLASTICS

Check shower products for “polyethylene” and “polypropylene”. Found them? These tiny plastic particles are entering the ocean through our sewer systems. Sea creatures ingest them and in turn humans that eat marine life. …. Watch out for products containing these!  

9. HIT THE CHARITY SHOPS

Many clothes contain synthetic plastics, let’s make sure that they are being re-used. Pop to the local charity shop and rifle through the racks! Many a £3 gem has been found this way! Not only are you reducing the amount of plastic in the ocean by reusing and not adding to demand, you’re also helping to fight the fashion industry (go you!). If you’re interested in finding out more about the fashion industry pop to our article “The rapid rise of fast fashion”.


9. GET YOUR MILK DELIVERED
Get milk delivered, reuse your glass bottles instead of buying 2/3 plastic bottles a week! Hence no more morning dashes to the corner shop in your pyjamas! Even better, switch to milk alternatives such as almond or hazelnut that are kept in cartons!

 

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There’s more than one reason your mum likes the milkman     [Image Source]
10. NATURAL INGREDIENTS

Get handy in the kitchen. Learn how to make your own pasta sauce, pizza base and curry! Cut out the plastic-wrapped convenience foods and get your apron on!

11. CHEWING GUM

Ever wondered what that weird texture was? It’s plastic! Look around for plastic free chewing gum… Or opt for mints instead!

12. NATURAL CLEANING PRODUCTS

Baking powder, vinegar and water are all excellent natural cleaning products! If you’re feeling brave invest in this and give it a go!

13. DIY

It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly to repair then replace. Have a look on YouTube if you’re unsure how to go about it. If it really has seen the last of its days replace it with a second-hand item!

Take on the challenge, reduce the plastic you put in the ocean today!

Charlie Bedwell is a third year BA Psychology university student at the University of Reading.

 

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