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21 ways you can ditch plastic in 2021

It’s no-plastic July! Here at Thred, we’ve been making a conscious effort to cut down on our plastic consumption and recycle responsibly when it is unavoidable. Here’s some tips on how you can cut your plastic use down too.

As you might already know, it’s our mission to spread the word about positive social change, so this month we want to share 21 of the easiest ways to get closer to a plastic-free lifestyle.

Alongside urging big companies to change their current methods of plastic production, we can all make subtle but impactful changes that reduce plastic in our lives. Let’s get started!


  1. Switch out plastic bottles for a reusable bottle

A major contribution to plastic pollution is single-use water bottles. In fact, one million plastic bottles are sold globally every minute. Metal bottles like these will keep your drinks ice cold for the entire day. With so many options, colours, and designs to choose from, there’s one for everyone – continuing to buy plastic bottles is just silly!


  1. Bring a canvas tote bag with you when shopping

A reusable tote bag is one of the easiest ways to cut down on your single use plastic habit. They look good, they’re better for the environment, and you can wash them as needed, too. Consider that every second 160,000 plastic bags are used around the world. If you’re only popping to the shop for a few things, carry your items home if you can.

Keep up with @byebyeplasticbags on Instagram, an initiative underway in 30+ countries, providing workshops and events that raise awareness of the issue of single use plastics.


  1. Bring your own travel mug

Reusable coffee cups are not new, but many of us still opt for a single-use cup when grabbing our morning tea and coffee. A recent report says 7 million disposable coffee cups are thrown out every day in the UK alone –  that’s 2.5 billion each year. We can do better!

For the latest in ocean cleanup innovation, check out @5gyres who are using science to create solutions to our global plastic problem.


  1. Dodge unnecessary plastic cutlery and plates

Many eateries offer wooden utensils nowadays, but if you find your local lunch spot still won’t ditch the plastic version, pop a fork and knife from home in your bag.  IKEA has a stunning bamboo line to keep in your home. When ordering a takeaway, be sure to select ‘no cutlery’ if you don’t need it.

Over 99 percent of plastics are made from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels called petrochemicals, which isn’t so tasty when you really think about it.


  1. Look for a no-waste supermarket near you

With food packaging being responsible for half of all plastic waste, no-waste supermarkets are popping up all over. Find one near you, pack a couple of glass jars, and stock up on cereal, pasta, rice, beans, and other foods without the unnecessary packaging.

Here’s a map that highlights the coastlines where all this plastic is ending up.


  1. Sparkle sustainably

Glitter is the emblem of festival season, which is looking to make a major comeback this year. A quick Google search will result in tons of brands making biodegradable glitter so you can rave guilt-free, knowing more tiny plastics aren’t ending up in our oceans, into sea life, and back into us.

It’s worth the switch, knowing that microplastics are so invasive that one hundred percent of all mussels tested in the UK contained them.


  1. Say goodbye to your plastic toothbrush

As with most plastics, toothbrushes stick around in the environment for 500 years. As the demand for more sustainable materials increased, big brands like Colgate have even released a bamboo line! This small but impactful change isn’t expensive either. Most bamboo toothbrushes are within the same price point as the plastic kind.

For all your household and personal care needs, @plasticfreedom_ has got you covered at their completely plastic free online shop.


  1. Quit buying fast fashion

Many of the cheap fabrics used by fast fashion brands shed thousands of tiny microplastics everywhere – while you’re wearing them and inside your washing machine. Look out for sustainable materials like 100% cotton, wool, or other natural materials. Clothing made from these fabrics will also last a lot longer.

Powerful images that depict the realities of our plastic problem can be found at @free_from_plastic.


  1. Check that recycling label

We know that avoiding plastic is sometimes impossible, especially when much of our to-go foods are packaged in plastic pots and wrappers. When there’s no other option, be sure to read the recycling information on the packaging. Sometimes pots can be washed and recycled, but the protective film isn’t yet. Be sure to separate them accordingly.

Question your local takeaway about the kinds of packaging they use. Compostable, plant-based alternatives like Vegware and Greenman are widely available, so the use of styrofoam and plastic boxes can be phased out. Organisations like @theoceancleanup are developing new technologies to clean up the mess we’ve created thus far.


  1. Bring lunch to school / work

Packing your own lunch will undoubtedly cut daily plastic waste contribution in half – bonus points if the reusable container is glass. Getting into this habit will also have a positive impact on your wallet after a few weeks.

@plasticbank is an incredible initiative that is turning plastic waste into recycled pellets by paying citizens across 5 nations who clean them up from their local neighbourhoods and coastlines.


  1. Invest in a soda streamer

On the back of cutting down on plastic water bottles, a soda streamer is the ideal replacement if you’re a fan of fizzy drinks and sparkling water. The starter kit is on sale this month and comes with 4 reusable bottles – essential when beverage containers make up 14 percent all plastic waste.  The kit comes with two soda flavours and you can even make kombucha!


  1. Use matches instead of plastic lighters

Lighting candles with a match is so satisfying. If you need a lighter for whatever reason, look out for refillable metal types like Zippo.

Follow @plasticfreejuly to take the plastic-free challenge and discover some of the simplest ways you can reduce your plastic consumption on a day to day basis.


  1. Swap out chewing gum for mints

Literally, the stuff is pure plastic! If a mint isn’t doing it for you, look for plant based alternatives to chewing gum like Glee or Chewsy.


  1. No more micro-beads please

Check those face scrub and hand soap labels. UK-based readers shouldn’t find any microbead ingredients (Polyethylene and Polymethyl Methacrylate) as these have been banned, but microbeads are factory-made microplastics that many soapy products contain elsewhere in the world. By avoiding these, you’ll slice your contribution to the 5 trillion pieces of plastic already floating in our oceans.

Stunning photos, interesting facts, and tips for protecting our oceans can be found at @plasticoceans on Instagram.


  1. Look for hardened paper cups 

Our affinity for using disposable cups at things like parties and beer pong matches isn’t going away, but hardened paper cups are an excellent alternative to the plastic ones  – be sure to pick up stainless steel or paper straws too!

Most countries can’t manage the amount of plastic they’re currently producing, therefore it’s being dumped on other nations who also can’t deal with it fast enough. Stainless steel cups offer an even longer lasting alternative. Check out @plasticpollutes for the ultimate reusable product tips.


  1. Try out reusable sanitary products

The average woman will throw away close to 10,000 tampon applicators in her lifetime. Reusable options like the cup are becoming more common. They’re safe, clean, and can be worn much longer. Less faff for you and the environment.


  1. Break an eco-friendly sweat

Polyester, nylon, acrylic and other synthetic fibres are all fabrics made from plastic. These cheap materials now make up 60 percent of our clothing.

Many big gymwear brands like Nike have introduced a recycled fabric line. From running jackets, to leggings and full football kits, the line is inclusive of whatever you need.


  1. Send coffee pods back to the company

Over 300million aluminium coffee pods are used every year in the UK and 95 percent of those will end up in landfill.  If you have a coffee machine in your home or office, check to see if the company you’re ordering from has a recycling program. Many already do!

They’ll provide you with a free bag for the empty pods, which you send back to be disposed of properly – like Nespresso’s Podback system.


  1. Switch to bar soap instead of liquid

Oh, the classic bar of soap. It does the same job, only with zero waste. Not a fan? Some big-name stores have launched global refill stations for liquid soaps. Be sure to reuse your empty bottles, or make the extra effort to take them out to your recycle bin.

Bear in mind, the US burns 6x more plastic waste than it recycles though, so that bar of soap is looking like the most sustainable option for now!


  1. Use a shampoo bar

The main ingredient in shampoo is water, so several brands have made shampoo bars that liquify as you add water in the shower! With options available for every hair type, plastic bottles will no longer clutter your bathroom space.


  1. Shop at a farmers’ market

Not only will you be selecting wrapper-free produce (don’t forget your own reusable bags), but you’ll be supporting local businesses which is always a major plus.


That’s it! Twenty-one simple ways to reduce your plastic waste footprint.

We don’t expect readers to tackle all of these at once. Unfortunately, the convenience of plastic has seen it woven into so many parts of our lives that it’s difficult to avoid completely.

However, we’d like you to join us in the challenge of phasing out single use plastics by being more aware of the little moments where their use can be eliminated.

These small actions can add up to major positive changes for the environment, something our planet definitely needs right now.

For more eco-inspiration and updates on environmental efforts, be sure to follow these five incredible activists:

Franziska – founder of Glass Half Full, which recycles glass into sand to slow coastal erosion, provide disaster relief to damaged shorelines, eco-construction and much more

Morgan Cook – writer of the blog Mostly Eco Morgan where you can discover simple ways to live more sustainably and read up on subjects like mental health and feminism

Shane Brown – a true ocean lover – some might even say CEO of the ocean – he shares stunning TikToks of marine life and removes the various types of pollution he comes across while snorkelling

Leah Thomas – creator of the Intersectional Feminist where she sheds light on environmental issues as they relate to social justice, with awesome how-to guides and simple tips for becoming more eco-friendly

Chelsea Yamasephotographer and environmental warrior, Chelsea aims to draw attention to the beauty of our oceans to encourage others to protect them.

If you have any plastic-ditching tips you’d like to share, pop us a message on Instagram – we’re all ears.