This might be an obvious topic, but it still seems to be one that a lot of people ignore entirely. Plastic bottle consumption, once you really start to pay attention to it, is quite scary, and, frankly, a bit overwhelming. Water, squash, juice, smoothies, fizzy drinks, milk, shampoo, shower gel, cleaning products… the vast majority of liquids seem to be sold in plastic bottles, so trying to cut down on how many you buy can be difficult.
I think that the first step along this road is to start recycling and reusing any plastic bottles you already have. So refill them when you want to take a drink somewhere, then wash them out and use them again. I did this for a while, and it must have saved a lot of bottles (as well as a fair bit of money) just to reuse one instead of buying a new one every time you want a drink. Many people have concerns that reusing plastic can cause chemicals to leach out into your water/food, so obviously don’t do it if you feel it is dangerous. (If you want to know more about this, have a look at Beth Terry’s book, Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too).
Check out your local recycling facilities and see if you can recycle the ones that aren’t good enough to be used again. Thankfully, my council recycles them, which makes me feel better when I have to get rid of one.
I’ve also decided to save any plastic bottles that can’t be used for drinks – such as shampoo bottles – to use for other things in the future. Somewhere down the line I’m planning to try and make my own cleaning products, and I will obviously need something to put them in.
My next step was to buy a metal bottle to reuse instead of plastic ones. I got mine from One Green Bottle; it’s made of stainless steel (except the lid, which is plastic, and the paint on the outside) and I now carry it around in my handbag with me, so it’s there whenever I want a drink. I think it is worth paying for something like this because it’s going to save you a lot of money in the long run. This article explains why getting a reusable metal bottle is better than getting a plastic or glass one.
But obviously, there are still lots of things you want to buy that are sold in plastic bottles. So my ideas are:
- Buy drinks in glass bottles instead of plastic when possible.
- Buy in bulk – a big bottle of squash will use less packaging than several smaller ones.
- Buy products in bottles made of recycled materials. For example, Lush’s black tubs are all made of recycled materials and you can give them back to the store when you’ve finished with them to be recycled again.
- Buy products without packaging – such as my packaging-free solid shampoo bar (see Week 1: Shampoo post).
Finally, I would suggest researching places you are visiting to see if they will have facilities to refill bottles with water. For example, I climbed Mount Snowdon recently, and the toilets in the cafe at the top encouraged climbers to save water, providing a variety of tips on how to do this – but there were no drinking fountains anywhere, which spoilt this campaign for me a bit!
So my aim is to keep using my metal bottle and only buy a drink in a plastic bottle when I’m in real need – like when I was at the top of Snowdon and knew I would need a drink on the way down!