Reduce plastic - Shorebox

How To Reduce Plastic: Beginner’s Guide

Hello there, internet-traveller! You’ve stumbled across our guide on how to reduce plastic. Good on you. You’ll pick up easy, ready-to-go tips, which are guaranteed to dramatically reduce your plastic waste. Let’s show Plastic Free July what we’re made of.

  • Part 1: Reduce plastic when out-and-about
  • Part 2: Reduce plastic in your bathroom
  • Part 3: Reduce plastic in your kitchen

Part 1: Reduce plastic when out-and-about

Reduce plastic when out-and-about - Shorebox

It’s mind boggling to think how much single-use plastic we encounter on a daily basis. We asked our friends working in cities to total up the amount of plastic they throw away in a typical working day. On average, they use three coffee cups and lids, a set of plastic cutlery, a plastic bottle, and up to two plastic bags daily. Now multiply that by 260 working days in a year. Yikes.

You can easily avoid them by making sure you’ve got these three simple items in your bag.


1.   Reusable bottle

Plastic bottles are the most common type of plastic pollution found in European waterways. By taking a reusable bottle out with you, you could save you a staggering 175 plastic bottles a year. There’s even an app to help you locate free water refill points. And if you fancy a different type of drink on-the-go, at least opt for a canned one and make sure you recycle it. Easy peasy! 


2.   Coffee cup

Coffee drinkers in the UK throw away 7 million cups every single day. Paper cups contain a plastic lining, so the vast majority are unrecyclable. Take a reusable cup with you on coffee trips instead. Many coffee chains reward cup-bearers with a discount, so it’s a win-win!


Bonus tips

  • Double up your coffee cup as a water cup to save yourself bag space.
  • Save money by using a glass jar as a reusable cup for both coffee and water.


3.   Cutlery set


A pet peeve of ours is when people grab plastic cutlery at food outlets, even though they’re heading back to an office or cafeteria — where there’s metal cutlery! Grrr. But when that’s not an option, your own cutlery set saves you throwing away plastic knives, forks, and spoons. Pop your cutlery from home in your bag, or treat yourself to a lightweight bamboo set.


Part 2: Reduce plastic in your bathroom

Next, we’re heading to one of the most plastic-laden rooms of the house — the bathroom. From plastic bottles to tubes and tubs, it can feel overwhelming knowing where to start. Take a deep breath, look them straight in the eye, and apply these easy tips. You’ll cut down on plastic faster than you can say ‘‘intergalactic bath bomb”.

1.   Soap bars

We rave about soap bars to anyone who’ll listen (sorry, Marge at the deli counter). And rightly so. As well as paper-wrapped soap bars being plastic-free, they last longer than liquid soap, and are inexpensive. Replacing liquid hand soap and shower gel are great places to start. You can also get soap bar alternatives to:

  • Face cleanser
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shaving cream
  • Body lotion
  • Moisturiser
  • Dog shampoo

See, even your canine friend can save on plastic.

Shop: Paper-wrapped soap

Bonus tips

  • If you’re having withdrawals from liquid soap, turn your soap bar scraps (the little bits you get towards the end of their life) into liquid! Reuse an old soap dispenser and follow this tutorial to make sure none of your soap goes to waste.
  • Overloaded with bars? Coconut oil in a glass tub is a plastic-free alternative to many products, including make up remover, hair masks, serums, and body moisturisers. It’s amazingly effective, affordable, and smells like cupcakes.

Read more: 6 ways to get the most out of your soap bar

2.   Cotton buds

Plastic cotton buds are a scourge on the environment. Many people flush them down the loo, making them one of the most common types of litter found on beaches. Disgusting, right? They’re also potentially deadly to the unfortunate marine animals that end up ingesting them. Opt for paper stems and cardboard packaging instead. Compost them when you’re done for top marks from us!

3.  Toothbrushes

Did you know that every plastic toothbrush we’ve ever used still exists somewhere today? Many are likely to be in the ocean. Wash your hands (and teeth) of plastic brushes by switching to a bamboo toothbrush. The wooden handles* take just six months to decompose in a home composter. Much better!

If you can’t bear to part from electric toothbrushes, the Sonic Toothbrush by Georganics is a great option. Georganics runs a Zero to Landfill scheme, so you can send back your old toothbrush heads for free to be recycled. Alternatively, Live Coco sells recyclable toothbrush heads for Oral-B electric toothbrushes.

*The bristles are still plastic, so these need to be removed and put into your plastic recycling. The only plastic-free option for toothbrush bristles available today is pig hair…each to their own. Do check which plastics your council collects first.

Part 3: Reduce plastic from your kitchen


The kitchen is home to many a yummy thing, but also lots of single-use plastic. Don’t worry, we’re not going to deny you your chocolate mousse. But putting a bit more thought into your food shopping, storage, and cleaning can really make a difference.

1.  Fruit and veg

Going plastic-free with your fruit and veg is a great place to start. Many supermarkets now sell them without packaging. The catch is, you’re encouraged to grab those thin plastic bags to put them in. Take your own produce bags instead, and voila — you’re cutting down on a lot of weekly plastic waste. There’s also no harm in putting them straight into your basket (you’re probably going to wash, peel or cook them, anyway!).

2.  Food storage

Dare we say the c-word? Cling film is as single-use as it gets. There are plenty of easy and free ways to store food without needing to reach for plastic. You can repurpose jars, or simply put plates on top of bowls. Feeling fancy? Food wraps are a great alternative to cling film — they’re made with wax, last for years, and are compostable at the end of life. Many vegetables, like carrots and celery, are happy being stood in a glass of water. And when you’re on-the-go, reusable food bags and steel tins are the perfect companions.


3.  Sponges and cloths

Synthetic sponges are hugely wasteful kitchen items. They shed tiny plastic microfibers which go down drains and end up in rivers, lakes, and eventually the ocean. Aim for these plastic-free materials next time you buy a sponge instead.


Bonus tips

  • The same goes for bathroom sponges — be that for the body or general cleaning. Some sponges are long enough to cut in half, so you can use one half for the kitchen and the other for the bathroom.
  • Cut old tea towels into quarters to use as reusable kitchen roll or cleaning cloths. This saves on plastic packaging, paper, and money! 
And there you have it! Your beginner’s guide is complete. You’re ready to show Plastic Free July what you’re made of.
Browse our plastic-free shop for eco-friendly products, or check out our eco-friendly subscription box to reduce plastic step-by-step each month. Enjoy 10% off your first box with the code “FIRSTBOX”!

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