Reusable coffee cup

Simple steps you can take to help reduce plastic waste in your daily life

  • 17 March 2021
  • 4 min read
Are you keen to reduce plastic waste? Eager to help the environment by tackling plastic pollution? Here are a few steps to get you started.

We’ve become addicted to plastic. Approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic is generated each year. Microplastics have been found in every location surveyed worldwide and eleven million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean each year. This needs to change.

You may have read about the University's Revolution Plastics initiative, which is bringing together scientists, businesses, campaigners and citizens who share our ambition to transform the way we make, use and dispose of this polluting material. We can all play a part.

Here are ten top tips on how to use less plastic:

1. Make a plastic pledge 

Whether it's choosing soap instead of bottled shower gel, or boycotting single-use plastic food cartons and sachets, setting yourself a realistic, achievable plastic pledge is a great first step. Then, communicate your pledge to manufacturers, your local council and your MP and explain why you’re doing it. And encourage others to cut down plastic waste too.

2. Adopt a positive attitude

Focus on what you can do to address the problem. Plastic pollution is a complex, global issue. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but your individual actions will make a difference. By working together we can take the action that will create a healthier world.

3. Be creative

Single-use plastics don’t necessarily need to be single-use. There are lots of ways that plastic bottles can be reused around the home — turn them into plant pots, bird feeders or use them for crafts. 

 
Windmill made from upcycled plastic bottles

Upcycle plastics in arts and crafts

Upcycling a plastic bottle to create a painted plant pot

Turn an old plastic bottle into a painted plant pot

4. Reduce the number of plastic items in your home

Look around and consider how many objects and materials contain plastic — your mobile phone, clothes, even carpets and sofas. When replacing such products, look for natural materials that don’t contain plastic, such as wool or cotton. Fibrous materials such as faux fur tend to shed non-natural fibres into the air we breathe. To help minimise this, keep plastic items out of direct sunlight as this causes materials to break down and release airborne microplastics

 

5. Get involved with plastics research

 

Join the revolution. Get involved with the University’s research as part of Revolution Plastics. This year we’ll be running what is believed to be the world’s first, city-wide plastic pollution survey, right here in Portsmouth. The University is collaborating with Portsmouth-based Jetsam Tech to tackle plastic waste in our city. If you want to help make a difference, register your interest via this form.

Plastic fibres in the air

Materials such as faux fur tend to shed non-natural fibres into the air we breathe

6. Put a recycling bin in your bathroom

Simple, yet effective. An awful lot of the products that we ought to be recycling but don't are found in the bathroom. It's about convenience. 

7. Plan your shopping trips 

It’s easy to buy more than we need. And then end up throwing a lot of it away. Planning ahead is an effective way to reduce plastic waste and packaging. 

8. Try zero waste stores

Shop at environmentally-conscious stores, such as the Package Free Larder on Elm Grove in Southsea. You can purchase only what you need to minimise food waste and take refillable tubs to avoid unnecessary packaging.

Package free food stored in glass jars

9. Reduce, reuse, recycle

One of the most well known mottos when it comes to recycling. Some argue there should be a first step before any of these — refuse. Refusing plastic is the most effective way to minimise plastic waste. 2.5 billion coffee cups, lined with plastic, are used and thrown away each year in the UK but only 0.25% are recycled (Source: Environmental Audit Committee, 2017-19). Take a reusable cup or drinks bottle when heading out so you can still enjoy a coffee on the go, without the plastic waste.

10. Spread the word

Share what you’ve learned and show it can be done. Talk to friends, family, classmates or your employer about how to change the way we buy, use and dispose of plastic. Why not join a local community group, such as Plastic Free Portsmouth, to take action on plastics in your neighbourhood? 

 


Keen to learn more? Watch our community video and Revolution Plastics online event. Our expert panel shared these top tips and more ideas about how to use less plastic in daily life. 

If you’ve got a great idea to tackle plastics, whether it's a plan to reduce waste in your workplace or school, or an idea for a plastics research project get in touch with our Revolution Plastics team for advice and support.

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