The reported problems of plastic in our environment, from our soils to our seas, has shown us that it is more important than ever before to ditch plastic from our daily lives. The best way to do this is to swap single-use for reusable alternatives.
Remembering to grab items such as water bottles, coffee cups and shopping bags as we head out the door should be as important as picking up your wallet, keys or phone. There are plenty of other changes that you can make as well.
In the UK, we use 13 billion plastic bottles every year, that's all drinks, milk and toiletry bottles. Water bottles make up a staggering 60 per cent of this. Instead of buying bottled water, simply use a reusable drinks bottle instead. Whether you're heading out to work, the shops, school or just out to play, make sure you remember, reuse and refill your drinks bottle.
Thanks to a fantastic local initiative called Refill Hertfordshire, topping up your water bottle when out and about is being made even easier. Refill Hertfordshire allows public places - such as cafés, pubs, takeaways and restaurants - to register as Refill Stations that will happily refill your bottle with free tap water on request.
There are more than 100 Refill Stations registered in Dacorum. You can find your nearest Refill stations on the go by downloading the Refill app or keeping an eye out for Refill window stickers.
We need support in building the number of Refill Stations listed in Hertfordshire. Find out how you can register your business - it only takes a minute and is completely free to take part.
We also need support in promoting Refill Hertfordshire locally. If you'd like to help, either as an individual or local group, please email email@example.com.
Around 15 per cent of people in the UK only ever drink bottled water. By switching from bottled water to either tap or filtered water you will not only be drastically reducing the amount of plastic used, but saving money, too. Tap water doesn't carry the carbon footprint, either.
Remember your reusables on the go
The UK uses 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year, and only 1 in 400 of these can be recycled. If you enjoy hot drinks on the go, it’s time to invest in a reusable cup. Check out different cups available to buy and discounts that are offered for using your own cup.
The 5p bag charge resulted in an 85 per cent drop in plastic bag use - let’s get that to 100 per cent. Leave your reusable bags in your car, handbag or by the door so you always remember to use them.
Making packed lunches for you or the whole family can not only help cut down the amount of waste you create, but it is often much healthier and cheaper than buying food on the go.
Sporks, chopsticks or just normal knives and forks - there are lots of different reusable cutlery choices to choose from. If you're planning on eating on the go, make sure you have a set ready to pop in your bag or pocket.
Straws suck! Remind restaurants and bars that you don’t want them in your drink when you place your order. There are plenty of reusable versions available made of metal, silicon, bamboo, hard plastic or even glass, for you to slip into your bag before heading out.
The UK uses 58.8 million face masks every day and only 10 per cent are reused. Sadly, they are often discarded on our streets, and in our parks and green spaces. Reusable masks will save money in the long run and are much better for the environment. Plus, you can get almost any colour and design, and you can even make your own.
If you choose to use a disposable mask, please always dispose of it in a litter bin or your grey-lidded bin at home.
Remember your reusables at home
In the bathroom
Swap your shower gel bottle and hand pump for a bar of soap. Simple but effective and they'll last much longer, too. If you can't give up your liquid hand wash or shower gel, look out for refill shops where you can take your own container. The Herts Waste Aware page lists some refill shops in the county.
Shampoo and conditioner bars
Ditch your old plastic bottles for these brilliant bars, which are a great alternative. They work just as well and many of the brands that create these bars are also cruelty free (meaning they don't test on animals) and use more natural ingredients.
Whether they're for cleaning up babies and children, make-up removal or household cleaning, did you know the majority of wipes on the market are made up of plastic? These don't biodegrade and aren't recyclable, so reducing their use is important. You can either buy reusable wipes or make your own DIY ones - there are plenty of how-to guides online.
Please remember to never flush disposable wipes down the toilet as they cause environmental issues in our seas and sewers. They should go in the grey bin only.
Your average sanitary pad can contain the equivalent of four plastic carrier bags. Find out more about reusable period products.
From birth to potty, a child can use around 4,500 disposable nappies. Each of these can take up to 500 years to degrade in landfill. 'Real' nappies not only help the environment and expose your baby to less chemicals, but they can also save you up to £500. Find out more about reusable nappies
Cut your single-use plastic consumption even further by switching your plastic disposable razor for a reusable razor. Whether you're male or female, there are plenty on the market to suit your needs.
In the kitchen
Same taste, less waste
Food such as fruit and vegetables can often be bought loose instead of wrapped in plastic. All supermarket tills have weighing scales so that you can pay for what you buy at the till without using any pesky plastic bags. If you prefer to have your food protected on your shop, bring your own bags or tubs with you to the supermarket.
In the past 40 years, the number of people using glass bottles has dropped around 90 per cent. Let’s get back to the good old days - find your nearest milkman.
Make your own cleaning products. Most things can be cleaned easily by using a simple recipe of white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. No need to buy lots of trigger sprays and bleach bottles.
Ditch the cling film and invest in reusable food wrap or have a go at making your own reusable beeswax-coated wrap.
Invest in reusable plastic sets of tableware, which are great for parties, picnics and barbecues. This will not only reduce your plastic and paper use but also save you money. And any food waste is more likely to head into the food caddy rather than being thrown away with a disposable plate.
The energy used to manufacture a battery is around 50 times greater than it gives out. Between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes of batteries are wasted in the UK each year. If you invest in rechargeable batteries, you'll ultimately spend less than on single-use batteries, as well as reducing the amount of batteries created and thrown away. If you have single-use batteries - always make sure to recycle them in a designated battery recycling box.
Find out more about reducing, reusing and recycling in Dacorum, as well as making this year more environmentally friendly.