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Hidden plastics in everyday life

Posted by Arden on 31st May 2018

Hidden plastics in everyday life

Plastics are all over the news at the moment, from the latte levvy and plastic tax to the new plastic-free trust mark (the latter of which we’re very proud to be part of!)

Plastic water bottles, bags and straws tend to get the most shame and retribution but plastics wind up in the depths of the ocean in other ways that aren’t as widely discussed. We recently read Martin Dorey’s No. More Plastic. Honestly - such a great, quick read by the founder of the beach clean-up app 2minutesolution, and these are three of the “hidden plastics” in our everyday life that we are going to try and reduce!

In Your Kitchen

We all know that our fruit and veggies come in plastic bags to keep them fresh or portioned and - when we’re busy – a pre-prepared bag of salad can be way more appealing that a big whole lettuce that needs a good clean. We also get through A LOT of plastic milk bottles as a nation (for all our tea, right?!) and you’ll even find hidden plastics in the majority of regular paper teabags and in “paper” cups or tins of food which are often lined with plastic.

Some tips on how to reduce it:

  • Think real food that you buy whole rather than pre-portioned or tinned…we know loose fruit and veg options in the supermarkets are dire, but buy loose where possible and why not make a Saturday trip to a local farmers market to avoid the plastic wrap. 
  • Look out for the A Plastic Planet “Plastic Free Trust Mark” on products in the supermarkets so you can easily choose products that use plant-based plastic-looking materials that aren’t actually plastic and will biodegrade. Our tea temples will be donning the logo later this year! 
  • Keep cotton or reusable tote bags with you all the time… in your bag, in your boot (we’re sometimes guilty of forgetting them before heading to the shops!)
  • Reuse or recycle the plastic you do have to bring in to the home
  • Nudge your local council to upgrade its recycling capacities if they’re not quite up to scratch. Some councils don’t take food waste which is where biodegradable materials like our tea temples and inner plastic bags should go to break down. 

In your Clothing

Clothing made from acrylic, nylon polypropylene and elastane contains plastic.

When washed, these materials create plastic lint which can make its way to the ocean from our washing machines. Apparently, a single fleece sheds roughly 2 grams of microfibers every wash!

Another problem with clothing made from artificial materials is that if it gets thrown out, it will never fully break down in landfill. We Brits toss out 680,000,000 items of clothing every spring, meaning, your graphic tees with pizza on the front will live on forever!

Solutions:

  • Switch to more natural fibres like cotton or wool.
  • Purchase an In-line filter for your washing machine, to collect the lint.
  • Wash clothes less frequently, at lower temperatures, or make sure the wash is full (which agitates the clothing less, causing fewer fibres to be shed).
  • Donate old clothes or trade clothes with friends.
  • If the clothes are ripped or broken, try repairing them before replacing. Certain brands offer repair services which saves you money and reduces waste. Win win!

In YOUR bathrooms

Some of the worst plastics are hiding in your bathroom.

Wet wipes, cotton buds, and feminine hygiene products—these all contain plastics. Sadly many of these are flushed down the toilets, and into the ocean with the 8 million ton statistic. Wet wipes are close to becoming outlawed because of this and because they clog up sewer pipes which can cause flooding.

Solutions:

  • Replace wet wipes with reusable flannels, paper tissues, or bamboo wipes which can be composted.
  • Plastic cotton bud sticks can be replaced with wooden or paper ones.
  • Feminine hygiene products are harder to replace but people are quickly moving towards menstrual cup - better for the planet and you'll save LOADS of money in the process. 

Have you got any other tips for avoiding plastics hiding out in everyday items? Let us know in the comments or tell us on social using the tag #BigPlasticClearOut @teapigs                                           

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