Reduce plastic waste going in the landfill – nine top tips

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recycled plastic milk and water bottlesA friend was recently lamenting that she wished we could recycle more plastic. Often they were left with plastic containers, trays and bottles that they could not get rid of.

While I sympathise to a certain point, I do feel that the onus is on us as consumers to show the supermarkets and the Government what we want.

So often people feel helpless when it comes to environmental issues. They feel they are the victims of some immovable force that is much bigger than them. I like to play the optimist and I believe that with enough of us saying the same thing, changes WILL happen.

It’s easy to dramatically reduce the amount of waste plastic we have to get rid of by making a few simple changes to our lifestyle.

1- Buy loose fruit and vegetables from a farm shop or farmers market, rather than shrinkbuy vegetables and fruit loose instead of wrapped wrapped ones from a supermarket. Alternatively, sign up for a vegetable box scheme or grow some of your own food.

2- Use a local butcher. They will use a sheet of grease proof paper and one thin plastic bag rather than a polystyrene tray and cling film. It’s not perfect, but it’s far less plastic to get rid of.

3- Bake your own bread. With bread making machines galore, it is no longer the chore it once was (although I’m one of those weird people who actually *like* kneading and baking home made bread - no packaging in sight!by hand). You can throw everything in the bread machine at night and come down to the aroma of fresh bread in the morning.

4- Use the local milkman who will clean and reuse your glass bottles, rather than buying milk in plastic cartons.

5- Use a refill scheme for household products, such as Ecover. You get a reduction on the cost of a full bottle and you get to reuse the plastic instead of ditching it. Search the Ecover database for details of your nearest refill stockistuse your local milkman

6- Over a million plastic bags are consumed per minute, worldwide. Buy or make a couple of cloth bags and say no to plastic carrier bags in the future. Check out the gorgeously funky Morsbags site for a sewing pattern. If you’re not a seamstress then treat yourself to an Onya bag , Gorgeous bag from Doy, made from recycled tetrapak cartonsor the amazing Doy Bag.

7- If you have leftovers, don’t reach for the clingfilm to store food. Use a dish covered with a plate instead. It’s healthier for you and the environment. Likewise, if you take sandwiches to school or work, use paper bags from your vegetable box, unbleached parchment paper or the inner waxed bags from breakfast cereal.

8- It’s worth checking out your local recycling facilities. Where I live, for example, we can recycle plastic drinking bottles, milk bottles and washing up liquid bottles. Check out this recycle more site for details of your nearest facility.
ditch the plastic bag
9- Remember that you are entitled to leave any unnecessary packaging at the supermarket till. So if you do not have a choice about buying something wrapped in plastic then make a statement by leaving excess packaging at the checkout for them to dispose of.


  1. Melissa McCann on March 26, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    These are great tips!! I think plastic in so many ways might be the bane of our collective existence. Truly, it doesn’t break down, can leach toxins into our food, and it unsightly on roadsides – not to mention the use of fossil fuels in its creation! (If memory serves me correctly…).
    Ahh, but the convenience! That’s the clincher – we all know it’s bad but it’s so darn convenient.
    This article is full of great ideas. I’m going to look into the refill scheme, but I have a feeling it’s just not available in our area. And I totally get you about the kneading the bread thing – there’s something cathartic about handling the dough! Although I don’t have the time to make near as much bread as I’d like to.

    Cheers and thanks for the wonderful tips!

  2. Mrs Green on March 28, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Melissa!
    I was writing about convenience just today – what a coincidence that you mention it. There will be a post on that later and how my desire for convenience means I have more rubbish than I care to own up to each week……

    I hope you find a refill scheme near you. If not, would it be possible for you to set up a co-op with some other families and buy things in bulk? At least this is less packaging to get rid of.

    Have a beautiful weekend,
    Mrs G x

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