How to Reduce Single-Use Plastic While Out of the House?
We know how difficult it can be to not use single-use plastics when you are out and about, and more so if your area has not yet embraced a more sustainable culture. Because being out of home is amazing and makes us happy, we have some tips and recommendations for you to enjoy the outer world while still beating the challenge for Plastic Free July.
You are about to see how much fun and cool it can be to avoid single-use plastics, to reuse your own stuff and to say no to waste. If you decided to join the challenge, more on this on the blog Plastic Free July - Join the Challenge!, you are just about to turn the odds on single-use plastics!
Alternatives to single-use plastics out of home
Reusable Bag vs. Single-use bags
When we talk about single-use bags it is important to keep one thing in mind, no matter what a single-use bag is made of, by definition it is not sustainable! When you think about all the resources involved in producing, packing, transporting and hopefully recycling it makes no sense to use them for only a few hours or even minutes.
Although not great, compostable bags take less resources to produce and the emissions produced when they decompose are lower. The catch here is that for a compostable bag to decompose, temperatures of up to 70º are required, which do not happen in nature hence they will not decompose and still pollute our oceans.
Paper bags are the least harming as they will easily decompose in the natural environment and leave not harmful trace behind. The issue with them is that they cost the planet a large amount of forests each year. The process to produce paper bags is not sustainable either and can be very water intensive if not from recycled paper.
So.. what is the best option? Reusable bags! There is absolutely no way around it, re-using again and again the same bag to go grocery shopping, to take to the beach or even to take your lunch to work can save the planet from at least 144 plastic bags a year per person. If you get your hands on a fairtrade and high quality cotton bag , you may go years without using other bag!
Here you have a couple of fun plastic free reusable bags recommendations:
- Strong Organic and Responsible Sources Cotton Tote Bag "Movamos el Culo por El Planeta"
- Light Organic and Responsible Sourced Cotton Tote Bag "People & Planet"
- Organic and Fairtrade String Turtle Bag
- Bulk Groceries Mesh Bag
Reusable Bottle Vs. Single-use Plastic Bottles
During the time you have been reading this post so far, around one million plastic bottles were sold around the world. Most of these will end up polluting our beautiful environment, harming the sea life and staying around for more than 450 years before they decompose.
Add to this madness the fact that only around 35% of all plastic bottles are actually recycled and you end up with a massive issue and also with a massive amount of plastic leaking into our planet, harming it minute by minute.
The Solution to single-use plastic bottles are reusable bottles. With reusable bottles you can carry from home or buy to-go any drink and enjoy at anytime. You will save money and on top of that you will save hundreds of plastic bottles from going to the landfill each year.
Here you have a few plastic-free bottles to choose the one best suits you:
- Light Water Bottle 500ml sustainably made from stainless steel.
- Insulated Water Bottle made sustainably by 24 Bottles.
- Collapsible Bottle from Stojo made with silicone.
Reusable Straws Vs. Single-use Straws
So the single-use straw issue will vary a lot based on where in the world you are based. If you are in Spain you can celebrate a win, since this year was passed a law to completely ban single-use straws from restaurants and bars and heavily tax those businesses distributing them. If on the other hand you are in USA the government may still need more pressure to crack down on single use plastic straws.
Either way, we use way too many single use straws, in Spain 13 million plastic straws are consumed every day. This is the highest in Europe. For a product that you will only use for a few minutes and that it will take up to 500 years to decompose it sounds quite crazy don't you think?
Turning easily into microplastics and the frequency with which sea life like turtles confuse them with food and die unable to eat more food, are enough reasons to look for a plastic free reusable alternative. Sustainable reusable straws are the way to go.
Reusable Coffee Cups Vs. Single-use Coffee Cups
We all love a warm cup of coffee in winter or an icy cup of morning kick in summer, but one thing we don't like are disposable coffee cups.
In recent years with the boom of take away and the fast pace life of the city we are more than ever relying on take away drinks in between breaks. We think this is amazing and we too love a coffee, with oat milk and a touch of love from that independent coffee shop around the corner. But it can't come to the expense of our planet and the life in it.
If instead of using single-use cups we used reusable coffee cups we could save a lot of waste and potentially money by the end of the year. Imagine we drink each week 5 takeaway drinks like coffee, in a year we could save more than 250 single use cups from going to the landfill, 9.21kg of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere, 0.83kg of plastic and 5.63 kg of timber used to make the cups.
Have a look at the KeepCup calculator yourself and see how much waste you can save with a reusable coffee cup.
If you suggest to your local coffee shops to use your reusable cup in exchange for a small discount, you may soon be paying for the cost of the reusable cup and you can feel like a real hero!
Some of our favourite cups for coffees and drinks to-go:
- Collapsible Cup 355ml from Stojo
- Big Collapsible Cup with Straw 470ml
- Reusable Glass Coffee Cup from KeepCup
Reusable Food Storage Vs. Single-use Take-Away packaging
Until very recently the most common single use plastic in beaches all around the world were cigarette buds, not it is food packaging.
During the 34 years that Ocean Conservacy has been organizing beach cleanups cigarette buds have been the number one polluter with 4,2 million buds collected. Last year food packaging like plastic wrapping, bags and food boxes took over the first place with 4,7 million units picked up.
This change in ocean pollution shows the increase in unsustainable food production and on-the-go behaviour. If we want to carry on enjoying the beauty of the natural world and we want future generations to see nature the way we saw it, then we must pull the brakes and reconsider our actions and those of the food industry.
While pushing for change and more accountability from industry is needed, there are some plastic free swaps you can do that will help you avoid single-use plastic to take food out.
We have a few cool recommendations for plastic free food storage, eating out has never been easier and more fun!
Tips for a plastic free routine out of home.
There are a few things you can do that can have a large positive impact on your local community, the environment and how easy you will find to avoid plastic:
- Shop from Zero Waste Shops and the local market.
- Carry your own produce and tote bags.
- Buy in bulk. You will save money and lots of useless packaging.
- Before leaving home check you got your to-go essentials in your bag, you never know when you will need them! Reusable Water bottle. Tote Bag. Metal or Bamboo Straw. Reusable Coffee Cup. Lunch Box...
- Say no to single-use. When easily offered the single-use, proudly say no, because you are changing the world with every decision! You rock!
Now you have the knowledge, the solutions and the power to go to the outside world confident that you don't need single-use plastics. Make sure to teach and share what you learn along the way, because together we are the solution!