How to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic in 2020

Determined to cut out plastic this year? Here's how to make a start by SYLVIA KLIMAKI, EDWINA LANGLEY

Avoid single-use plastic in 2020 (Unsplash)

Many of us have changed the way we think about plastic over the last couple of years, swapping single-use shopping bags for reusable totes, and plastic bottles of water for those that can be used again and again.

But while we’re starting to establish new habits, there is still a huge amount to do if we’re to tackle – and shrink – our plastic footprints.

Making 2020 the year you properly examine your daily plastic usage is a really good place to start.

The sheer scale of the plastic problem can feel overwhelming, but one simple rule will help you make an impact: reduce your plastic usage, or if that’s not possible, re-use and recycle.

Being prepared is key when it comes to reducing your reliance on single-use plastics.

Getting into the habit of having your coffee cup, water bottle and a reusable bag to hand makes it easy to say ‘no’ to single-use plastics – even if it does mean taking a bigger bag out with you.

Other ways to reduce plastic use in your home could include efforts to…

1.) Give up gum

Give up chewing gum which is made of synthetic rubber (plastic).

2.) Avoid buying frozen foods

Take special care when buying frozen foods at the supermarket because their packaging tends to be mostly plastic.

3.) Make freshly squeezed juice

Ditch bottled juices for juice that’s freshly-squeezed at home (it’s more delicious!) or choose to eat whole fruit and vegetables instead.

4.) Buy loose fruit and vegetables

Avoid packaged fruit and veg and buy loose items. Take a set of reusable bags when you go shopping.

5.) Be mindful when making packed lunches

Think about how you’re packaging packed lunches. Bringing sandwiches from home into work or school helps reduce waste packaging, but cling film and single-use plastic sandwich bags could be undoing some of your good work.

Consider using beeswax food wraps or swapping to reusable bags.

How to reuse plastic products

If you have to use plastic, make sure you use it multiple times.

From your grocery bag to water bottles and detergents, try to find alternative uses for items once they’ve served their primary purpose.

For example…

1.) Save jam jars

Save peanut butter, jam or honey jars and use them to store snacks, such as nuts and seeds.

2.) Make dressings in the bottles bought from the shop

Make your own dressings and sauces, and use the bottles from the ones you have already bought to store them.

3.) Use old water bottles as bird feeders

Cut off the bottom off any water bottles so you can use them as small planters or bird feeders.

4.) Use refillable bottles for your detergents, shampoos and body creams

Refill bottles of detergent and household cleaners, and do the same in the bathroom, with shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion.

Some products are widely recycled – 99% of all UK local authorities now offer collection facilities for plastic bottles – but recycling programmes vary depending on where you live, so be sure to check with your council or local recycling centre about what they accept. You can find your local recycling programme here.

Before throwing your plastics into the recycling bin, give them a thorough wash to guarantee they will eventually make it into recycling.


Finally, keep in mind that each time plastic is recycled, more material is added to help upgrade its quality (each piece of plastic can only be recycled two and three times), so re-using items several times before recycling is the best approach.

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