Understanding your plastic habits
A great way to start thinking about changing your plastic habits is by taking a proper look at how you use, and recycle, plastics around your home. We've provided some great tips and tools to get you started.
Make a start with a list
We recommend getting started by recording everything that goes in your bin and your recycling box.
Either keep a paper list stuck to the fridge or record it on your phone, keeping a tally of different items such as crisp packets, fruit punnets, clingfilm, non-recyclable plastic, etc.
Put a note on top of the bin to remind you, your work colleagues and any others in your household.
It's a simple step but you'll be surprised by the results!
We've provided a simple template for you to use which you can download below. We've included some space where you can think about how you can cut down on that waste in the future, as well as some examples to get you started.
You might want to extend the challenge to include plastic that you use when you’re out and about., make a note on your phone or snap a photo to keep track until you get home.
(Don't) put a lid on it
Out of sight can definitely be out of mind, once you've taken the plastic wrapping off an item and dropped it into your recycling bin or your general waste it's gone.
We recommend storing your plastic waste somewhere visible before it leaves your house - so you can be mindful of what you're using and where it might go afterwards.
Some single-use plastic wrapping can't be easily recycled
Top tip: we pop our non-recyclable plastic wrapping in a jar in the kitchen - a small reminder that that's what we're sending to landfill, or to be incinerated. It's become a game in our house now - can we get through the week without filling the jar up?
We recommend making a record of your waste for at least a week - to give you a really good idea of what you're using.
At the end of the week, take a look at the plastic waste in your bin and in your recycling box (or your jar on the side!). Write down realistic ways you think you can improve. The reason we include your green box too is because not all of the plastic in there actually gets recycled. We can’t recycle our way out of the plastic emergency we are in.
We need to cut down on the amount of plastic we use.
Here are some suggestions that work for us
- Buy fruit and vegetables loose from a greengrocer or a local market
- Taking a water bottle or reusable cup with you when you go out
- Buy bread from the bakery in a paper bag, or take your own bag and ask them to pop the bread in there
- Making flapjacks rather than shop-bought cereal bars
- Make your own ‘ready meals’ - batch cook recipes and freeze in portions. Save time and stop spending money on shop bought ready meals that often come with quite a bit of wasteful packaging
- Join our Plastic-free living tip swap Facebook page - it's a great place to share, and learn, helpful tips!
Our beaches and coast are littered with single-use plastic
Credit: Jack Holt
The point of the looking at your plastic use isn’t to make you feel bad, it's just to become aware.
You're doing a great thing by taking steps to understand the part your plastic habit plays, to become part of the solution.
“Remember there is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff
Change for good
Every July over 10,000 people take part in our Plastic Challenge and look at ways they can make small changes to cut down on their throwaway plastic consumption.
But you can understand your 'plastic habit' at any time during the year, and make simple adjustments to your everyday purchases to help protect the environment and protect our ocean from plastic pollution simply by comparing how much your plastic waste has reduced and resolve to make your new habits a permanent part of your lifestyle.