Our Earth Day guide to putting the planet over plastics

Our Earth Day guide to putting the planet over plastics

Earth Day 2024 has adopted the theme ‘Planet vs Plastics’ in a bid to get people to end the use of plastic. Their goal? Reduce the production of ALL plastics by 60% before we reach 2040. 

While it might seem like a big target, it’s one we can’t opt out of. Plastics have only grown as a threat to the planet, breaking down into microplastics, which release toxic chemicals into our food and water sources and circulate through the very air we breathe. 

A study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology claims humans could be consuming 39,000 to 52,000 micro plastic particles a year - and up to 121,000 when particles we inhale are factored in too. This equates to about the weight of a bar of soap of micro plastics consumed every year. 

With more plastic produced in the last ten years than in the entire 20th century, it’s not a matter of if, but when, we swap out plastics for the sake of the planet. 

But don’t worry - because we’ve come prepared with the ‘how’ of cutting plastic use.




Household items

  1. Use stainless steel straws instead of plastic ones - or better yet - skip the straw altogether and enjoy your beverage straight from the glass.
  2. Choose glass over plastic for all your household staples. That means swapping the convenient 'squeeze top' products like tomato sauce, honey or mayo, and going for all glass jars or BPA-free cans.
  3. Replace plastic ziplock bags with silicone food storage bags. They’re durable and can be reused many times and easily washed between uses. 
  4. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap in plastic bottles - and if you’re up for the challenge, try swapping out shampoo and conditioner, dishwashing powder, and laundry detergent for brands that offer cardboard packaging.
  5. Swap regular purchases of plastic cleaning products for a cheaper DIY solution. You can buy amber glass spray bottles (or reuse existing ones in your home) and make your own cleaning products using ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. It’s win-win!
  6. Stop using plastic ice cube trays that inevitably break, requiring you to buy more. Instead, invest in a set of stainless steel ones that will last you a lifetime. Easy.
  7. Buy bulk ingredients from wholefood shops - things like oats, nuts, beans and pasta - to avoid the plastic packaging. You can visit these shops with your glass storage jars or bags, plus you’ll save money buying in bulk too. 




For the kids

  1. Skip the plastic school lunch boxes for the little ones and opt for a long-lasting, buy-once, stainless steel lunchbox. While you’re at it, swap the disposable plastic cutlery for stainless steel ones from home (or special school-only sets).
  2. Take the same approach and get the kids to choose their own stainless steel water bottles for school or sport.
  3. Switch to a wooden hairbrush instead of a plastic one. Wooden brushes are durable and biodegradable, and come in all sorts of styles now with a range of ethical brands.
  4. While it’s one of the harder swaps to make, if you’ve got little bubs, consider using cloth nappies instead of disposable ones. Cloth versions can be reused multiple times, saving money, but also reducing the amount of plastic waste generated.
  5. Swap the plastic playmats for linen or other organic material ones. The plastic ones are not just bad for the planet either - they’re almost always made using PVC, which is a toxic plastic full of dangerous chemical additives including phthalates, lead, and cadmium, which can be toxic to your child's health.


Personal care

  1. Ditch the plastic wrapped toilet paper and go with online toilet paper. Subscriptions like Who Gives A Crap or Yarn’n are affordable, ethical and automatic - meaning you can set and forget, without the fear of running out. 
  2. Start using plastic-free feminine hygiene products like period underwear and menstrual cups, and encourage your young teens to do the same. And if you do need to have an emergency pack of tampons on standby, choose brands that use less plastic like TOM organic, which uses cardboard packaging despite still having to wrap their tampons in the individual plastic wrap.
  3. Use exfoliating mits, dry brushes and cloths made of natural fibres to clean your face and body, avoiding plastic scrub brushes or loofahs.
  4. Say goodbye to the plastic floss coated in 'non stick' teflon and go for natural variations that use bamboo and other biodegradable materials.
  5. Swap skincare products for ethical brands that use less (or recycled) plastic packaging and definitely don’t use plastic micro beads that wind up back in the waterways when you’re using them.



Out and about

  1. Stop accepting receipts and where needed, ask for the receipt to be sent digitally. Receipts covered in thermal coatings (the ones that feel glossy and plasticky) are covered in BPA.
  2. Bring your own reusable coffee cup to cafes for your daily caffeine fix. Many cafes offer discounts for customers who bring their own cups - a nice little bonus for being a friend to the planet.
  3. While it’s long been an accepted practice, bringing your own reusable shopping bags is a big way to avoid plastic. Keep a stash of reusable bags in your car for groceries, and if desperate, opt for the paper bags in store over plastic, or go for cloth ones, which last longer.
  4. Say no to offers of plastic bags, cutlery or straws when ordering takeaway food. A handy swap is to have a cardboard box to carry takeaway orders in, and to use cotton bags for supermarket items like produce.
  5. Buy your bread fresh from a bakery, rather than in plastic at the supermarket. That way, you can request a paper bag - or bring your own - and enjoy fresher, tasty bread while you’re at it. 
  6. Purchase items like furniture, clothing, and electronics secondhand to reduce the demand for new plastic products. Ending plastic is about voting with your wallet, so buying secondhand keeps demand low and additionally extends the life and use of pre-existing products.



A plastic-free future

With such high targets to hit in the fight to end plastic, it can feel like an overwhelming mission. But when every individual cuts back their plastic consumption, that effect ripples out across billions of global citizens. And when it comes down to it, both Mother Nature and the people who care for her are utterly worth the effort.