You just have to look around to see the devastating impact that plastic is having on our planet. Plastic pollutes at every stage of its lifecycle from when the oil and gas is used to produce it, to the waste which litters our streets, gets thrown in landfill or incinerated. 

It’s clear we need to drastically reduce the amount of plastic we use, but it can seem a bit daunting to cut out the plastic that is so common in our lives. Almost 1000 people have now taken our Plastic Free Friday pledge vowing to take action against plastic each Friday. They’ve pledged to avoid single-use plastic, ask politicians to do more to tackle plastic pollution, and tell companies and shops to cut plastic use. 

We asked our Plastic Free Friday pledgers for their best plastic-free swaps to help you take action:

“The simplest thing for me has been replacing plastic water bottles with a reusable bottle”

Swapping plastic water bottles for a reusable one is one of the easiest swaps you can make. Lots of public places like train stations and town centres now have public water fountains where you can top up, and cafes or restaurants carrying the Refill logo will let you fill your bottle up for free. 

“Using local independent retailers who don’t pre-pack everything in plastic”

Many independent shops sell loose fruit and vegetables, and there’s been an increase in the number of plastic free shops across Scotland where you can fill reusable containers with everything from rice and beans to laundry liquid and shampoo.  

“Replacing one-use sanitary towels with washable ones” 

Standard menstrual pads contain up to 90% plastic and many tampons have plastic applicators which are often washed up beaches around the country. Switching to reusable products is an effective way to cut down on regular plastic consumption and save money too. 

“The thing that’s made the biggest difference for me is getting in the habit of making more food from scratch”

Most ready meals and packaged food comes wrapped in plastic, most of which isn’t easily recyclable. If you can, making food from scratch will not only reduce plastic but it’s also a much healthier option too. 

“Shampoo and soap bars are long lasting and effective!”

Soaps and shampoo is increasingly available in a solid bar form. This means it’s more eco-friendly to keep yourself clean and looking great, plus it will cut down on bottles cluttering up your shower. 

“Just carrying reusable items. Having them at work and having them in your car is a step in the right direction for reducing”

Being prepared is one of the easiest ways to avoid plastic. If you’re on the go then carrying a reusable bottle, coffee cup and shopping bag will help you from getting caught out and having to use single-use items. Packing your bag the night before is always a big help too! 

“Make our own soap, toiletries, and household cleaners

Several of our Plastic Free Friday pledgers told us they cut down on their plastic use by making their own household products. If you have more time on your hands and want to experiment, then you can find some easy recipes online like making a simple household cleaner from vinegar, water and essential oils. Check out this blog for recipes to make our own DIY cleaning products. 

“Many supermarkets now allow customers to bring their own containers. This should be widely advertised.”

Did you know many supermarkets let you take your own containers at the deli containers? Next time you head to the fresh food counter, take your own reusable tub from the house. This will cut down on plastic but help remind the supermarket that this is an issue they should care about too. 

“Earlier this year, I did a survey of my plastic usage, recording everything. Over half the plastic items I used were tea bags, so I cut them out, using loose-leaf tea with an infuser instead.”

And finally, do you really know how much plastic you get through? Why not follow this plastic pledgers lead and do a survey of your own plastic use so you’ll be more aware of what plastic you can try cut down on first.

Have you taken our Plastic Free Friday Pledge yet? Click here to sign up today and make this year the one where you pledge to cut your plastic use. 

These tips were submitted as part of a survey into how people had succeeded in cutting their use of plastic. Read about their experiences here