6 ways to reduce single-use plastic

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6 ways to reduce single-use plastic

Packaging makes up nearly 70% of our plastic waste in the UK (WRAP). PET-rifying we know, but it's easier than you think to switch from single-use plastics to reusables.

Here are 6 easy ways to reduce single-use, starting with reducing the amount of single-use plastics you buy. We've also shared our favourite reusables for when you're out and about.

These tips are part of something bigger. At Hubbub, we want to see a world where everyone makes choices that are good for the environment. Check out what we do and how your actions add up.

1) Get a reusable water bottle

Every year in the UK we use approximately 13 billion plastic bottles, and only 7.5 billion get recycled! Switching from disposable plastic bottles will save you money when you’re on the move, and there are so many designs available now that it’s a great way to express your personal style too. Not sure where to fill up? This awesome refill app shares where you can refill your water bottle for free throughout the UK, or any restaurant or café will happily refill it with tap water too.

2) Coffee to go please

Did you know that we throw away half a million single use coffee cups every day in the UK, less than 4% of which are recycled? This daily treat is causing havoc for the planet and is a headache for recyclers - due to a tricky mix of plastic film inside of the cups, they need a special recycling facility that isn't widely available. Watch our Hubbub Investigates vlog to hear more about this. The havoc doesn't stop here either - if cups with dregs of coffee end up in other recycling bins, they could make the whole batch dirty meaning none of it can be recycled! That’s a latte to handle! Stay grounded and check out our top tips for switching to a reusable coffee cup today.

Here are a few ways we can get our caffeine fix without creating more waste.

3) Bag of tricks

The environment bagged a winner when the plastic bag charge was introduced in England, as it led to an outstanding 85% decrease in use. Despite this, we can all remember a time when we simply forgot to bring our bag with us and this can cause a dilemma, as reusable bags are only a more sustainable choice if we use them enough times and for long enough.

4) Waxy wrapping

Cling film is an unnecessary plastic in the home that often gets thrown away after use. There are more and more great alternatives made from natural materials that work just as well at keeping your food fresh. Why not give beeswax wraps a try? These colourful creations are made in the UK using all natural ingredients and are reusable and compostable too. Fancy making your own? It’s easier than you think with this DIY tutorial.

5) Drop the disposable cutlery

Used only for a few moments, your single use fork, knife or spoon can take over 200 years to decompose! Choose reusable cutlery & straws or even pack your own for when you’re out and about – just grab your usual fork and knife from the kitchen!

6) Loose & fruity

Choosing loose fruit and veg at the supermarket is an easy way to skip the plastic. It also means you get full control over the amount you’re buying and the quality of each – which could save you money and reduce food waste. Try a reusable mesh bag for packing loose fruit and veg rather than the single use plastic ones. Sign the Choose Loose petition to ask all supermarkets to offer at least the top 5 produce plastic free.

6) Is refill really cheaper?

It might seem like reusables are more expensive but the whole point is that you only have to buy them once, so they will start to earn their keep after a certain number of uses. And refill can start saving you money instantly – like with discounts on a reusable coffee cup.

In 2023 we worked with multiple supermarkets including Marks & Spencers and Asda to help boost the use of refill stations in their stores and they all guaranteed that gram for gram, refill ingredients would be cheaper than packaged – which is really exciting. Hopefully we’ll see more refill stations popping up in local supermarkets. There are also lots of independent zero waste shops, (which might be a bit more expensive) and you can find your nearest one with this refill app, as well as adding to the map if you know of other locations.

Of course, you don’t have to change everything in your house at once, start with one thing at a time. The bathroom can be a great place to start, where you can switch to a bar of soap rather than a bottle, and swap shampoos and cleaning products to refillables, all the way down to a tiny and mighty reusable swab!

We do more than recycling. 

Ever wondered what food you can freeze, or how to make your smartphone last longer? Find out below.

See Hubbub in action 

From Community Fridges that cut food waste to Ballot Bins that halve cigarette litter, our campaigns show what taking action that's good for the environment looks like in practice.