Plastic-free? The top four we can’t ignore


Here in the UK, we use plastic without too much consideration. However times are changing.

Do you remember how people used to smoke whilst walking down the street?  If you see people walking down the street these days, you may be inclined to ask, why are they still doing that?

One day, hopefully not too far away, we will be saying the same thing about single use plastic!


Becoming plastic free won’t happen over night. Like anything, it takes time and small changes add up to bigger ones.  Since taking on the plastic free challenge, I have found that in the beginning it’s more about making small swaps and cultivating the will to make small changes.


The top four we can’t ignore


By saying no to the top four single-use plastics above, I have been able to make a big impact and reduce the amount of recycling that my family and our team produce in the office.

I’m slightly embarrassed to say, that not long ago and until we took the challenge on, we as a family knew that it was recycling collection day only as our bin was near-full to the brim!

So, here are the some tips on the top four we can’t ignore

  • plastic bags;
  • water bottles;
  • takeaway coffee cups;
  • and plastic straws.


Plastic Bags


Plastic bags are incredibly dangerous to our wildlife and environment. Bring your own reusable bags and help put an end to this plastic waste!

Reusable tote / cotton shopping bags are a fantastic alternative to plastic bags. It’s a great idea to keep a stash of your reusable bags somewhere where you’ll remember them; like in the boot of your car or by your front door, in your handbag or your day bag.

Reusable bags go beyond just grocery shopping – bring them along for all shopping trips!

Your next steps

To make an even greater impact, consider making your own reusable shopping bags using repurposed fabric. Check out the Boomerang Bags- link will open in a new window movement, there are even local groups to join.

If you prefer to buy, choose bags that are made from natural fibres such as ethically-produced cotton, jute, or hemp or recycled plastic bottles.

**This month, we are giving away a reusable Chris James Mind Body bag with every purchase from our shop.**

For those living in places that have not banned the plastic bag yet, get involved with a local advocacy group and petition your governing body to make a change!

The impact

  • Plastic is fatal for animals who mistake it for food or become entangled in it
  • Plastic bags break up into tiny micro plastics and remain indefinitely in the environment, which are hazardous to your health and your children’s health.
  • By choosing to refuse plastic bags, you can save around 500 plastic bags per year from entering our oceans and landfill 


Plastic water bottles


BYO reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic ones.


Avoiding buying single-use plastic water bottles is as simple as carrying your own reusable alternative with you. Be sure to choose a socially-responsible and environmentally-friendly alternative, such as a reusable bottle made from stainless steel, glass, or safe aluminium.

Your next steps:

Go further with your impact by encouraging and supporting businesses to provide refillable water stations, as we have in our offices.

Don’t underestimate the impact of writing to your local government. Ask them to ban single-use plastic and hold manufacturers accountable by implementing extended producer responsibility schemes.

The impact

  • Reduce the pollution produced by plastic water bottles, which end up in landfills and impact millions of animals and habitats


Takeaway coffee cups


Bring a reusable coffee cup or dine-in at your local café.


You can easily avoid takeaway coffee cups by bringing along your own reusable alternative. There are many reusable coffee cups available on the market. Keep it in your bag or on your desk at work; wherever you’ll remember to use it!

Many people choose socially and environmentally-friendly reusables made of ceramic, glass, plastic or stainless steel.  Please see links below.

You don’t even need to purchase a special cup. You can bring a mug or jar from home – just be conscious of using items that can heat up or don’t travel well if you’re going far.

Your next steps

Spread the word about reusable coffee cups with your friends, family members and colleagues, especially if you go out for coffee runs with them.

The impact

  • Coffee cups are not recyclable in most locations. Even ‘compostable’ cups are rarely composted as they require very specific facilities and conditions
  • Bringing your own cup shows others how easy it is to reduce their waste and creates a new trend


Plastic straws


Many bars and cafes put plastic straws in every drink. If you’re able to, request your cold drink is made without a single-use plastic straw. It’s important that you state this before your drink is made!



If you prefer to drink from straws, you can also bring your own sustainable alternatives. There are stainless steel, bamboo, and glass options available on the market, and even foldable reusable straws that you can easily keep in your purse or pocket.

The next steps

Going beyond refusing single-use straws, you can also encourage and support businesses to only provide straws when requested, rather than as a default. You can connect them to to source posters and help them find out more about sourcing alternatives to plastic straws.

You can also encourage schools, day care centres, and other child-minding communities you may be involved with to rethink the use of plastic straws in arts and crafts.

The impact

  • Single-use straws are used for a few minutes then discarded, where they’ll remain in the environment indefinitely
  • They are lightweight and easily blown down drains and into waterways, rivers and oceans and can become stuck in the airways of animals, or if mistaken for food and ingested can be fatal
  • Together, we can get straws out of the top 10 list of items collected in beach cleanups


While, we as a family are not yet totally plastic free, we have been able to significantly reduce the amount of plastic we have in our lives, and now that my mind is switched onto it, I am continually looking at ways to reduce our plastic footprint.

We’ve pulled together some quick swaps to help you out day to day: 

A String bag

A Re-usable Water Bottle 

A Re-usable cup The worlds first cup made from used paper cups! Brilliant! And it won’t break the bank either

If you like to drink out of glass, we found this great one from Turtle Cup.
And 50p from every sale goes to #2minutebeachclean helping them tackle plastic pollution on our beaches.

If you want to start making more of a change have a look at these zero waste shops:


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