How to reduce your personal plastic footprint

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Reducing the amount of single use plastics we use is something which is a hot topic in 2019.

Today (July 3) is International Plastic Bag Free Day with environmentalists arguing that we should get rid of single use plastic bags altogether. Each plastic bag is only used for an average of 25 minutes, according to Plastic Bag Free Day, and yet it can take between 100 and 500 years to disintegrate.

At La-Z-Boy UK, we already taken steps to move away from using plastic packaging by replacing it with eco-friendly alternatives. In 2018, we eliminated all plastic wrapping on our Far East models and are currently working to do the same for the products we make in Europe.

Instead of plastic, we now use quilted woven protective bags, which are 100 per cent recycled and can be completely recycled after use. The bags, which are used with an outer carton, were thoroughly tested for 12 months to ensure they offered the high level of protection necessary to minimise any potential damage to our products.

But what can you do as a consumer to reduce the amount of plastic you use?

Keep a reusable bag with you

Most of us own reusable bags but the challenge is remembering to take them with you when you need them. Impromptu shopping trips can often lead to feeling forced to pay the 5p plastic bag charge and then feeling guilty for using more single use plastic. Try to avoid this situation by buying reusable bags which fold down small and keeping them in your handbag, car or pocket. Once you have used them for shopping, try to get into the habit of putting them back so you’ll have them to hand when you next need a bag.

Carry your own reusable cup or bottle for drinks

Lots of coffee shops now offer a discount to customers who bring their own reusable cups, instead of using a takeaway one. Taking your own cup can feel a little odd at first but the more people who do it, the more commonplace and natural it will feel. Making sure you have a cup with you does require a bit of thought and planning but there are options on the market which collapse down to a smaller size when not in use. If you’re someone who buys lots of bottles of water, make sure you have a reusable bottle with you which you can refill at drinks fountains throughout the day. According to the WWF, plastic bottles are one of the most commonly found items during clean-ups of beaches and the lids often end up in the stomach of seabirds.

Swap cling film for foil

Whether you’re wrapping sandwiches for a packed lunch or popping leftovers in the fridge, chances are you’ll reach for a roll of cling film. However, this plastic product cannot be used again or recycled so is not a good choice for the environment. Swap cling film for foil, which can be recycled (providing you remember to pop it in the right bin). You could also invest in other eco-friendly alternatives for wrapping food. These include Beeswax Wraps, which come in attractive designs, are made from cotton and beeswax and can be washed and reused.

Go without a straw

Most restaurants and pubs have already drastically cut down on the amount of plastic straws they use and a ban will come into force in April next year across the UK. However, some places do still offer them so try to get into the habit of turning them down. If you like using a straw and are not a fan of the paper alternatives which have been introduced in lots of food and drink outlets or you need to use a straw for medical reasons, buy a reusable straw and pop it in your handbag. There are a number of choices out there, including straws made from stainless steel, glass, silicone, bamboo and acrylic.