The plastic we innocently throw into our bins ends up in landfill, in our oceans, in our water - everywhere. It releases toxic chemicals into the soil, it can choke wildlife, it’s not widely recyclable, and even those plastics that are, are often not recycled regardless. In fact, most plastics last forever so every time you buy a plastic product, remember, it won’t just outlast you, but probably the entirety of humanity.
However, it’s important to be realistic about our plastic usage - because it is such a useful material, and this is something we also shouldn’t forget. It is found in nearly everything from milk cartons and food containers to cleaning products, toothbrushes, building construction materials, cars and everything in between. It’s hard to avoid using plastic altogether. But the good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to start being more mindful of how you use plastic and steps you can take to reduce your consumption.
Here are some ways to limit your exposure:
Boycott the worst offenders
By looking at the bottom of any plastic container, you’ll see that they are all numbered from 1 through to 7. The most damaging plastics are number 3 which is Polyvinyl Chloride and number 7 which is polycarbonate/other. These plastics are used in everyday items such as juice bottles, and if you can find alternatives, you’ll be making a big difference.
Replace your plastic containers
A reusable water bottle can significantly reduce the amount of plastic you purchase. You can also swap plastic lunch boxes for Mason jars, wooden Bento boxes or cloth sandwich bags. The most simple switch is to make sure you stop using plastic bags to carry your shopping and instead remember to take cloth or canvas ones with you to do your supermarket shops.
Refuse to buy bottled water
Buying bottled water when the water from the tap is perfectly clean and healthy to drink is one way to cut down on your plastic usage quickly. Most bottled water is just filtered tap water and the process to manufacture and ship a bottle of water to our supermarkets and local shops is hugely costly and wasteful. By having a reusable water bottle with you at all times, you can stop being part of this whilst also staying hydrated at the same time!
Be mindful of plastics when you shop
It’s so easy to do our weekly shop without thinking about how much plastic we are using, but by taking a little time and care, we can minimise the amount of plastic we use. Buy fruit and vegetables loose rather than packaged or in plastic bags, purposefully buy products that don’t have any packaging or those that come in glass jars and avoid convenience foods such as ready-meals which use excessive plastic packaging. It might take a little time to change your ways, but when you get into the habit of doing this, you’ll soon find it natural and you will easily be able to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back too.
Scan your home and swap things out
When you realise how much plastic you use in your home, you’ll be surprised at how many changes you can make. Making your own cleaning products can save you money and are much kinder to the environment - for example, baking soda and vinegar. Avoid non-stick cookware which can release dangerous perfluorochemicals when heated, and replace with cast iron alternatives instead. Making your own condiments means you can avoid those damaging plastics found in their containers and can be a fun cooking experiment too.
Don’t forget about your coffee mug!
Investing in a reusable coffee mug will also mean that you can stop purchasing your coffee in a throwaway container with a plastic lid. Most coffee shops are happy to use your cup to pour their coffee into if you can’t bear to give up your takeaway coffee, or you can save some money by making it yourself at home. Nowadays, many coffee shops will also reward you with a small discount if you provide you own reusable cup (what a bonus!)
In addition to our insulated water bottles and coffee cups, we also have a picnic bag. So, next time you are out and about you can further reduce your plastic waste by making all of your favourite treats and packing them away in a cooling picnic bag.
By making simple but effective changes, you could be on your way to becoming plastic free. At Inkerman, we aren’t quite there yet but are committed to becoming more sustainable, and making decisions both on behalf of the business, and personally that take into consideration the impact they’ll have on our planet.
At Inkerman we take the following steps to ensure we achieve sustainability in our small business:
- Our Inkerman red boxes are 100% biodegradable and we always encourage our clients to use the boxes for storage to give them a second life.
- Cardboard and packaging gets re-used
- Our carbon footprint is very low as we only deal with UK distributors and suppliers
- We recycle the offcuts of ribbon.
- We also recycle all our paper, cardboard and any plastic that we do use.