If anything, COVID-19 has made us more aware that our actions, as human beings, are affecting climate change and the plastic pollution crisis.With lockdowns happening all across the world, we’ve started to see reductions in carbon emissions, and that’s made it clear to governments and businesses that change needs to happen.
Whilst we hear about it all regularly in the news and the larger-scale change needs to come from governmental legislation; there is still something we can all do as businesses and individuals to really make a change.
As advocates of a greener lifestyle, from our compostable cards to our eco-friendly card packaging, we’ve put together 7 simple ways we can reduce our plastic consumption in 2021.
- Reusable drinkware
Some of the most harrowing images we see in the media show the amount of single-use plastic bottles that are not only left on the streets but are infiltrating our oceans.
As humans, we generally have busy lives, which has led to the majority of us opting for convenience rather than our planet’s health. Having said that, companies and individuals are taking giant steps in the right direction. As a result, there’s widespread production and sales of reusable plastic bottles, metal bottles, recycled reusable bottles, metal coffee flasks, recycled coffee flasks, and so much more. There are so many options available now that are more eco-friendly, recyclable and affordable.
There are also cafés and restaurants that will give you discounts if you bring your own coffee cup (after all, it’s an expense they don’t have to account for). So, whether you’re a business investing in drinkware for your employees or an individual making a change, reusable drinkware is a simple step to take.
- Plastic straws – no thank you
Worldwide we have started to see a massive shift in a ban on single-use plastics. Last year our government in the UK decided to ban single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
There was a slight delay due to the pandemic, but the movement is still underway. We look forward to restaurants and supermarkets in the UK and around the world that will adopt these new legislations to help prevent further plastic in our oceans.
If companies take time to make adjustments, you can always purchase your own metal or paper straws to use instead. There are also cotton pads available that are reusable and washable. Many companies provide alternatives that can actually turn out to be more affordable for both businesses and individuals.
- A bag for your life, not mine
When the ‘bag for life’ was first introduced, it felt like supermarkets were making a change in the right direction.
Having said this, the original ‘bag for life’ in the UK was still made of plastic, just a more durable kind of plastic that had a longer life span.
That’s why the tax was introduced because as human beings, we can be forgetful, and we all live in a busy world where we don’t necessarily have the time to remember that plastic bag every time – so why don’t we just get another?
We are pleased to see that supermarkets are now opting for greener alternatives. For example, Waitrose collects plastic bags on delivery to recycle, and recyclable bags are now becoming more prominent amongst retailers.
Whilst this is a vast improvement, a simple alternative is to purchase a cotton, natural and sustainable bag that you can use over and over again, rather than throw away. They’re more durable, last longer, and some even support charities fighting against the climate crisis.
- Switch up your dental care
Bamboo toothbrushes can be a sustainable alternative to a plastic one. They typically have bamboo stems and environmentally friendly bristles, so they can be managed in normal household waste streams when disposed of. It packs the same punch as a regular plastic toothbrush but with a lot less (aka no) plastic.
You can order them online or go to a local, sustainable shop to get one. There are also eco-friendly toothpastes and plastic-free flosses you can invest in, too, if you want to make a bigger contribution and still keep your teeth healthy.
- Make sure your gift card is green
Gift cards can be a great way to give presents, especially during a worldwide pandemic.
One of the best ways you can reduce your plastic consumption is by giving them an environmentally friendly gift card. There are plenty of businesses that purchase plastic free cards yet don’t always advertise. Check with your retailers to see if that’s an option. Look out for the Plastic Free Trust Mark and FSC logos on the cards to find out if they’re environmentally friendly.
Adopting a greener alternative can help reduce plastic consumption as you can recycle gift cards or add them to natural waste as they’re compostable without impacting the environment.
- Shop responsibly
By now we know that plastic pollution and the climate crisis is a global issue. There have been plastic-free shops popping up in each town and city in the UK, and supermarkets are actively adopting new plastic-free approaches.
With plastic-free or reduced plastic shops, you can always find ways to get your basics such as pasta, rice, grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll need to bring your own jars and containers, weigh them first and then collect what you need, but it’s an approach that eliminates the need for single-use plastic containers and packaging.
There are also farmers markets you can go to in order to get fresh produce. However, if these options seem a little expensive, you can try planting your own vegetable patch or just opting for the single items in the fruit and veg aisle at the supermarket rather than opting for the pre-wrapped.
In addition to this, you can order boxes online with fresh fruit and veg, and milkmen are back in town to give you plastic free, glass-bottled milk delivered to your door.
- Buy second hand or sustainable clothing
One of the things we most forget about is that our clothing is mainly made of polyester and other materials that not only fall into our plumbing systems when we wash them but also there are plenty of us who are guilty of just throwing old clothes away too.
One of the things you can do for the environment is to buy second hand or sustainable clothing. If you don’t want to do either of those, then just donating your clothes when you no longer want them to charities can give an added lease of life and help protect the environment.
Whether you choose just one option or all or opt for other alternatives, it’s a small step for humanity to save the planet that we live on.
Juliette joined Green Gift Cards, an eco-friendly card packaging provider in the UK, in Nov 2020, bringing along with her over 12 years of experience in the gift card industry having managed card programmes for some of the UK’s biggest retail brands.